Emerging Markets Disclosure Project Renews Call for Sustainability Reporting

On March 1, the Emerging Markets Disclosure Project, an international initiative to improve corporate environmental, social and governance reporting in emerging markets, renewed its call for investors to sign its Investor Statement on Sustainability Reporting in Emerging Markets.  Signatories urge sustainability reporting per GRI  Guidelines and affirm that next generation leading companies will distinguish themselves through robust ESG reporting and be rewarded in the market.   In addition to new signatories, the Project, now in Phase 3, seeks to confirm the support of earlier signatories and gather updated information on assets under the management of the signatories.  March 31 is the cut off date for the current round of new signatories and updates.

 

The Project is led by a steering committee consisting of representatives from Boston Common Asset Management, Calvert Investments and the Social Investment Forum.  Phase 1 included a  September 2007  benchmark report on sustainability reporting in several emerging markets, including Brazil, China, India,  Russia, South Africa and South Korea, Corporate disclosure was assessed across five areas:

 

Public disclosure of sustainability issues
Dedicated sustainability area within the website or annual report
Existence of stand-alone sustainability report
Use of the GRI framework for the sustainability report
Existence of sustainability goals and benchmarks
While 87% of companies provided some ESG disclosure, only 27% indicated they used the GRI framework.

The Investor Statement was created in Phase 2, receiving the endorsement of 29 institutional investors with close to $1 Trillion in assets under management and 15 other sustainability supporters (NGO's and Research Organizations). The Project also launched an investor survey an analysis of responsible investment in emerging markets, reporting in 2009 that seven of ten investors/asset mangers representing $130 Billion in emerging market investment cited lack of ESG disclosure as the key challenge to investing in emerging markets.

Phase 3, now underway, uses country teams to promote greater ESG disclosure by companies operating  in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, South Africa and South Korea.  The renewed  initiative surrounding the Investor Statement will support this initiative.  The results will be highlighted in a report at the end of 2010.

 

Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon