The Asset Owners Disclosure Project has made two high profile appointments to its board as it heads towards its new global disclosure cycle in 2012.

Former Australian Federal Opposition leader John Hewson and International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Sharan Burrow have joined the AODP board. Both Hewson and Burrow have extensive international experience working on the role of the financial system to manage the risks and opportunities posed by climate change.

Large asset owners in the financial system – including pension, super, insurance and sovereign wealth funds – control over $70trn of capital and how they manage that capital is crucial in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Hewson, who becomes Chair of the Asset Owners Disclosure Project, said “It is critical that we create more competition between the largest asset owners when it comes to managing climate change risks and opportunities. I look forward to guiding the Asset Owners Disclosure Project through its next phase of development to become the world’s leading rating organisation of asset owners and assisting asset owners towards best practice in a carbon-constrained economy.”

Burrow added “Climate change cannot be solved by policy alone and it requires trustees to embrace whatever change is necessary so that climate risk can be managed to the benefit of all their members. The stakes are incredibly high and we quickly need to protect workers’ capital against yet further systemic financial crashes like the one we are experiencing now.”

Asset Owners Disclosure Project Executive Director Julian Poulter said “JohnHewson and Sharan Burrow’s vast experience and diverse perspectives will ensure the best possible approach to reflect the interests of all stakeholders.”

The Asset Owners Disclosure Project will launch its new ratings system later this year and aims to rate funds with over $60 trillion worth of combined capital in the next year. There will be further announcements about board appointments and new initiatives through the year.

Mr Poulter added “These appointments further cement Asset Owners Disclosure Project’s focus on both the macro and micro impacts involved in climate change risk.”

Ms Burrow said “Climate change is the major challenge of the 21st Century and it is a key proxy for how asset owners deal with many other environmental, social and governance issues. The asset owners ultimately control how our investments are made and therefore how the opportunities for sustainable portfolios, jobs and economies are developed.”

“Stakeholders of all types need to see which asset owners are leading and by how much and who the laggards are so we can create pressure to drive change and move towards a more effective hedging of fund portfolios and a more robust financial system to deal with climate change,” said Mr Hewson.