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07 Jul 2017

Think 20 Summit names Yelena Novikova among the Young Global Changers for 2017

Yelena Novikova, GEM MIB 2014, represents Kazakhstan at the G20 Think 20 Summit in Berlin as one of 100 Young Global Changers.

The G20 Think 20 Summit unites young experts and noble laureates who share one common goal: brainstorm and present research-based policy solutions to the G20 leaders.

To accomplish this feat, this year the Summit launched the “Young Global Changers Scholarship Program”. One hundred applicants were selected to participate in the world’s leading think tanks with over 1,000 participants. Yelena Novikova was included among them.

According to Yelena, “the G20 representatives have provided us with one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be Young Global Changers. The visibility it gives us can be channeled to attract attention to our potentially life-changing efforts at home.” 

Yelena is no stranger to think tanks, and was particularly influenced by one focused on sustainability she particpated in during an internship at London’s “Tomorrow’s Company” back in 2010. Plagued by the lack of efficiency in the charity sector, she found that corporate social responsibility (CSR) and socially responsible investing were much more powerful ways of implementing social and environmental changes. This gap in research inspired her to shift gears and integrate Environmental, Social, and Governance factors (ESG) into her research.

Realizing her research could benefit from a deeper understanding of mainstream finance, she decided to return to school. She choose an MIB program at GEM’s London campus where she convinced a renowned Harvard Scholar, Mark Esposito, to supervise her ESG-related dissertation. 

After graduating, Yelena continued exploring ESG research, but quickly directed her focus to her home country of Kazakhstan. With a goal of finding ways to adapt best practices to better fit the local context, in March 2016 she embarked on a new research journey. She has since received a grant from the Soros Foundation in Kazakhstan and is working on integrating ESG practices through public policy.

Yelena believes that it is possible to improve Kazakhstan’s Single Accumulative Pension Fund (SAPF) by integrating material ESG risk evaluation, explaining that the “integration of financially material ESG factors could be effective through thoroughly designed public policy." She plans to use her research findings to advocate for it in emerging economies like Kazakhstan.