World’s Stock Exchanges Launching Sustainability Reporting Standards

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Sustainable reporting has come of age. The UN and the nonprofits are no longer the only ones advocating sustainability reporting, and the markets themselves are demanding it. When companies report on sustainability issues, they also tend to act more sustainably. Market analysts increasingly point toward a positive correlation between sustainability commitment and strong financial performance.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), as many as 21 more of the world's stock exchanges are gearing up to introduce sustainability reporting standards, which would bring the total number to 38. Seventeen stock exchanges already recommend their listed companies to report on ESG issues.

James Zhan, Director of the Division on Investment and Enterprise at UNCTAD, which co-organizes the Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative, said that 23 stock exchanges had committed to introduce new standards on sustainability reporting in 2016. Two stock exchanges have already implemented the new standards, and more are expected to follow.  

Many of the stock exchanges have already posted draft guidelines on their websites for comment and discussion. Zhan said the SSE initiative had helped spread corporate sustainability reporting by distributing model guidelines for use by the stock exchanges themselves and their listed members.

The SSE initiative works to advance sustainability in the markets. It is organized by UNCTAD, the United Nations Global Compact, the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative (UNEP-FI) and the Principles for Responsible Investment.

The private sector is seen as critical to achievement of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, and the SSE initiative is an important channel to get the private sector more involved in these Goals. The initiative now includes over 60 stock exchanges, representing more than 70 percent of listed equity markets, and some 30,000 companies with a market capitalization of over $55 trillion.

Anthony Miller, UNCTAD's SSE initiative coordinator, said that market expectations are shifting quickly and more and more stock exchanges are viewing sustainability reporting as necessary and inevitable.

Source and Image: UNCTAD