Five Questions about SRI – Weekly Expert Interview with Luisa Montes Contreras, Director and Founder of Ecovalores, Mexico City, Mexico – September 9, 2011

Each week Emerging Markets ESG publishes an interview entitled, “Five Questions about SRI.”  The interview features a practitioner’s insights about SRI in emerging markets and through Emerging Markets ESG shares this expertise with a wide global audience.  The goals of Five Questions about SRI are fourfold:

  • To reflect on what SRI in emerging markets means to practitioners;
  • To collect a catalogue of examples of SRI in practice in emerging markets;
  • To raise awareness about SRI in emerging markets; and
  • To enable SRI practitioners in emerging markets to network with peers around the world.

This week’s interview is with Luisa Montes Contreras, Director and Founder of Ecovalores, Mexico City, Mexico.

Luisa Montes Contreras founded EcoValores an independent research organisation specialising in environmental economics and sustainablity
assessments of Mexican companies in 2010.  EcoValores is the Mexican partner organisation of EIRIS – the leading global specialist in environmental, social and governance research on publicly listed companies. Prior to founding EcoValores Luisa was also a co-Founder and
director of Ecobanca an environment incubator investing in environment projects in Mexico. Ecobanca is a nonprofit orgainisation, which aims to provide a link between start-up projects and venture capitalists. Luisa studied economics at the Autonomous Institute of Technology of Mexico (ITAM). She holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from ITAM and a Master’s degree in Environmental Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She was an environmental economics professor at ITAM, where she also consulted on various environmental services diploma courses. Before that, she was Director of the Department of Economic and Social Analysis. She has more than ten years of
experience in the financial sector, which included working at Banamex in the areas of economic analysis and financial engineering.

Emerging Markets ESG:  How would you define socially responsible investment (SRI)?

Luisa Montes ContrerasSRI is investment that makes not only financial sense but social and environmental sense. Its investment that benefits the investor, the society and the environment is in.

Emerging Markets ESG:  What distinguishes SRI from mainstream investment? 

Luisa Montes Contreras: That society’s  needs are taken into account as well as private investments needs.

Emerging Markets ESG:   Which extra-financial theme – environmental, social or governance – is the most challenging for companies in Mexico to manage?

Luisa Montes ContrerasAt this time Mexican listed companies have been working on governance issues for more than
ten years due to the markets’ regulatory changes that have taken place in this period. However environmental and social issues have lagged compared to governance.

Emerging Markets ESG:  Which extra-financial theme – environmental, social or governance – is the most challenging for investors in Mexico to analyze?

Luisa Montes ContrerasI believe environmental issues are the most challenging for investors, because it’s always difficult to compare the
environmental performance of companies operating in different sectors.

Emerging Markets ESG:  Ecovalores began its work in 2000.  What has happened in the field of SRI in Mexico during the past decade, and, in your opinion, what is the greatest challenge presently?

Luisa Montes ContrerasIn the past decade, only two Mexican financial institutions have developed SRI instruments:  Grupo Monex and Grupo Financiero Bancomer.  They have met the challenge of giving equivalent financial results and communicating the extra element of the social good.