Updated with correction
BlackRock's investment stewardship team will press for more details on how companies are dealing with climate risk, and ask them to focus more on natural capital, according to the asset manager's stewardship priorities released Thursday.
On climate impact, "we are asking for more detailed discussion in corporate disclosures on how they are assessing" and managing it, Michelle Edkins, managing director in BlackRock's investment stewardship team, said in an interview.
On subjects like sustainable agriculture, biodiversity, deforestation, and fresh water and oceans, "the investment case we are making is for the need for companies to be mindful of their impact on natural capital," she said.
Last year, BlackRock began mapping its engagement priorities to specific United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, to assess how a company's business practices, products, and services might contribute. Mapping outcomes "is something we are working hard to do," Ms. Edkins said.
On natural capital issues, BlackRock will refer to the SASB Materiality Map to see how companies align.
BlackRock has been under pressure from shareholder advocacy groups to use its outsized position to back various ESG shareholder proposals. "This year we are more inclined to support shareholder proposals on those issues where we agree it is a business risk for the companies, as long as it is not unduly prescriptive," Ms. Edkins said.
When it publishes its voting recap at the end of the proxy season, "there will have been more votes against directors for inadequate progress on sustainability issues, and there will be more votes for shareholder proposals," especially those on climate and other environmental issues, she said.
"A lot of what is reflected in the priorities is a result of engagement experiences," she said. "We are building on what has come before. We are trying to push for continued improvements."