With the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference long expected to dominate the media this week, it was unsurprising that governments, associations, action groups and businesses around the world would take the opportunity to showcase their ESG agendas.

Within real estate circles, notably high among the chief takeaways from the popular annual Urban Land Institute and PWC’s Emerging Trends in Real Estate: Europe report, published on Wednesday, was how “the industry needs to restructure for resilience on many fronts, including adopting an ever-stronger ESG agenda.”

Meanwhile, on Monday, one of the sector’s biggest managers, the $69 billion BentallGreenOak, added itself to the growing cohort of real estate organizations pegging their carbon reduction plans to a specific year target. The New York and Toronto-based firm announced a net-zero emissions target for its entire portfolio at 2050 and has articulated the steps it intends to take to get there.

Like COP26, this week’s launch of the annual PERE Global Awards was also hotly anticipated in the industry, with PERE introducing four ESG categories. Taking the prize total beyond 70 for the first time in the awards’ 16-year history, we are introducing: ESG Firm of Year: Global; ESG Firm of the Year: North America; ESG Firm of the Year: Europe; and ESG Firm of the Year: Asia. These categories have been added in reflection of the surge in activity on both environmental and social fronts, with carbon cutting and social impact initiatives among investors and managers proliferating substantially.

To learn more about the 2021 PERE Global Awards and to enter, click here. When you do, you will find a link to award guidance intended for those organizations keen to enter, including specific criteria for inclusion in the ESG categories. For quick access to that, click here. Demonstrations of carbon-cutting targets, environmentally-friendly product launches and sustainability-focused hires are among the efforts that will qualify for inclusion.

Here is an extra hint at what environmental and sustainability-focused achievements are likely to stand out to our internal panel when it comes to determining the worthiest nominations: in the area of carbon reduction, for example, we will be prioritizing those with a concrete plan as well as an ambitious target. As Aviva Investors’ chief investment officer, Daniel McHugh stated at PERE’s Europe Forum last month, “a target is not a plan.” His subsequent point that organizations waiting for regulation to make their plans will be too late landed well with PERE’s audience and editorial team alike. The PERE Global Awards committee will also be taking note.

COP26 was always going to precipitate a slew of regulatory plans by governments around the world to tackle issues stemming from climate change. The UK, host nation to the gathering on this occasion, will mandate the publication by corporates of their net zero emission plans within two years in an effort to shine greater light on both the opportunity and challenge at hand.

You can count on the PERE Global Awards to shine industry lights, meanwhile, on those organizations which have kept pace.