CSA Staff Notice 81-334 ESG-Related Investment Fund Disclosure [Part G Guidance]
Part G Guidance
I. Investment Objectives and Fund Names

Investment Objectives and Fund Names

An investment fund is required to disclose, in its prospectus, the fundamental investment objectives of the fund, including information that describes the fundamental nature or fundamental features of the fund that distinguish it from other funds.[FN 15] Similarly, an investment fund is required to include, in its Fund Facts or ETF Facts, as applicable, a description of the fundamental nature or fundamental features of the fund that distinguish it from other funds. [FN 16]

A fund’s name and investment objectives play a role in identifying the primary focus of the fund and distinguishing it from other funds. A fund’s name and investment objectives should therefore accurately reflect the primary focus of the fund. To prevent greenwashing, it is important that the name and investment objectives of a fund accurately reflect the extent to which the fund is focused on ESG, where applicable, including the particular aspect(s) of ESG that the fund is focused on.

Staff note that funds that do not have ESG-related investment objectives may still use ESG strategies. However, a fund that uses one or more ESG strategies as a material or essential aspect of the fund, as evidenced by the name of the fund or the manner in which it is marketed, is required to disclose such ESG strategies as an investment objective in its prospectus [FN 17] and in its Fund Facts or ETF Facts, as applicable. [FN 18] As discussed above, staff remind funds that the description of these ESG strategies must be written using plain language so that investors can understand the fund‘s investment objectives, in accordance with the requirement that the prospectus provide full, true and plain disclosure of all material facts.

Furthermore, a fund that primarily invests or intends to primarily invest, or whose name implies that it will primarily invest, in a type of issuer or industry segment associated with ESG is required to indicate this in its fundamental investment objectives, [FN 19] as well as in its Fund Facts or ETF Facts, as applicable. [FN 20] For example, this may include a fund that intends to primarily invest in companies that are transitioning to a low-carbon economy or a fund whose name implies that it will primarily invest in the water conservation industry.

Staff note that the existing requirements draw a link between a fund’s name and its investment objectives in order to ensure that there is consistency between them, given the importance of a fund’s name in distinguishing it from other funds. Accordingly, in staff’s view, where a fund’s name references ESG or other related terms such as sustainability, green, social responsibility, etc., the fundamental investment objectives of the fund are required to reference the aspect of ESG included in the name of the fund. This is illustrated in Figure 1 below.

Staff acknowledge that not all ESG-related investment objectives relate to a measurable ESG outcome. However, where an ESG Fund intends to generate a measurable ESG outcome, staff encourage such funds to clearly state the intended outcome as part of their investment objectives in order to allow investors to identify funds that match their own ESG-related goals. For example, staff encourage funds that aim to reduce carbon emissions to disclose a measurable carbon emissions reduction target in their investment objectives. The inclusion of a measurable ESG outcome in a fund’s investment objectives would also allow funds to provide meaningful continuous disclosure that reports on whether the fund is achieving its intended ESG outcome.

FN 15 Item 4(1) of Part B of Form 81-101F1 Contents of Simplified Prospectus (Form 81-101F1); Item 5.1(1) of Form 41-101F2.

FN 16 Item 3(1) of Part I of Form 81-101F3 Contents of Fund Facts Document (Form 81-101F3); Item 3(1) of Part I of Form 41-101F4 Information Required in an ETF Facts Document (Form 41-101F4).

FN 17 Instruction (3) to Item 4 of Part B of Form 81-101F1 states that if a particular investment strategy is a material aspect of the fund, as evidenced by the name of the fund or the manner in which it is marketed, this strategy must be disclosed as an investment objective. Similarly, Instruction (3) to Item 5 of Form 41-101F2 states that if a particular investment strategy is an essential aspect of the fund, as evidenced by the name of the fund or the manner in which it is marketed, this strategy must be disclosed as an investment objective

FN 18 Instruction (2) to Item 3 of Part I of Form 81-101F3; Instruction (2) to Item 3 of Part I of Form 41-101F4.

FN 19 Instruction (2) to Item 4 of Part B of Form 81-101F1 states that a mutual fund’s fundamental investment objectives must indicate if the mutual fund primarily invests, or intends to primarily invest, or if its name implies that it will primarily invest, in a particular type of issuer or industry segment. Similarly, Instruction (2) to Item 5 of Form 41-101F2 states that if a fund primarily invests, or intends to primarily invest, or if its name implies that it will primarily invest, in a particular type of issuer or particular industry segment, the fundamental investment objectives should so indicate.

FN 20 Instruction (1) to Item 3 of Part I of Form 81-101F3; Instruction (1) to Item 3 of Form 41-101F4.