2010 Conference

Overview

The Sustainable Stock Exchanges 2010 Global Dialogue took place against the backdrop of UNCTAD’s World Investment Forum and the China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT) which brought together 1500 leaders from various stakeholder groups including governments, businesses, international organizations, investment promotion agencies, civil society, and international investment experts and practitioners from across the world.

The dialogue, which was co-convened by the PRI, UNCTAD, and the UN Global Compact and supported by the International Organisation for Securities Commissions (IOSCO), was a continuation of last year’s dialogue at UN Headquarters in New York where top executives explored how the world’s exchanges could work together with investors, regulators, and business to encourage responsible long-term approaches to investment. This year’s event which was sponsored by Aviva Investors, Bloomberg, and EIRIS, focused on the relationship between all major exchanges and the regulatory frameworks in which they operate in light of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.

The dialogue featured three core sessions, as well as a breakout session. The three sessions addressed the broader policy dimensions of building more responsible capital markets, the role of regulation versus voluntary initiatives, and the options for strengthening collaboration between investors, exchanges and regulators. The breakout session allowed individual stakeholder groups – investors, exchanges, and regulators – a chance to speak among themselves to identify key challenges and brainstorm new options.

“ESG issues are critical for creating a world economy that is more stable, inclusive and sustainable”, said Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of UNCTAD. “Stock exchanges and regulators have an important role to play: promoting standardized, transparent ESG disclosure, and empowering investors through corporate governance rules to make use of that information.”

A study commissioned by Aviva Investors on the sustainability practices of world’s top 30 exchanges*, launched at the event, shows that emerging market exchanges are, in many ways, leading the way in terms of implementing required sustainability disclosure and other measures to enhance corporate sustainability reporting of listed companies.

In recent years ESG disclosure rules were launched in Egypt, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Africa, among others. In 2010, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange became the first exchange in the world to require listed companies to move towards integrated reporting as required in King Code on Corporate Governance III.

This flurry of activity in many emerging markets is a recognition of the need to internalize environmental and social considerations into financial markets in order to promote more sustainable development. A key aspect of this process is producing more and better ESG reporting.

James Gifford, Executive Director of PRI, remarked: “Disclosing ESG performance data in a systematic way gives investors additional confidence that a company is effectively managing its risks and opportunities. The Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative, which is led and supported by investors, points to a clear business case for global stock exchanges to play a role in promoting transparent and sustainable financial markets.”

The study commissioned for the event found that currently two thirds of exchanges do not provide sustainability reporting guidance for listing companies. It also found only 25 per cent would consider altering listing rules to oblige companies to assess how responsible and sustainable their business model is and just over 10 per cent would consider suggesting that companies put this to a vote.

In Xiamen, Aviva Investors also announced that a coalition of investors will be writing to CEOs of global listing authorities and stock exchanges to demand that sustainability reporting becomes embedded within listing rules and that listed companies put a forward looking sustainability strategy to vote at their AGM. The ‘call to action’ already has the support of investors representing combined assets under management of US$800 billion with plans to enlist more supporters over coming weeks. The members of the ‘call to action’ to date include Aviva Investors, Fonds de réserve pour les retraites (FRR), SNS Asset Management, Triodos Investment Management B.V., Mn Services N.V., The Co-operative Asset Management, and Northwest & Ethical Investments. The ‘call to action’ is also supported by Ceres.

Speakers

  • Mr. James Zhan, Director, Division on Investment and Enterprise, UNCTAD
  • Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary General of UNCTAD
  • H.E. Mr. Fulin Shang, Chairman, China Securities Regulatory Commission, China
  • Mr. Georg Kell, Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact
  • H.E. Ms. Jane Diplock, Chairman, International Organisation of Securities Commissions
  • Mr. Paul Abberley, CEO, Aviva Investors London, United Kingdom
  • Mr. Mervyn King, Chairman of the Board, Global Reporting Initiative, Senior Counsel and former Judge on the Supreme Court of South Africa, South Africa
  • Mr. Huseyin Erkan, CEO, Istanbul Stock Exchange, Turkey
  • Ms. Carolyn Ervin, Director, Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs, OECD
  • Mr. Paul Clements-Hunt, Head, UNEP Finance Initiative
  • Mr. Liang Geng, Chairman, Shanghai Stock Exchange, China
  • Mr. Michel Maquil, President & CEO of the Luxembourg Stock Exchange, Luxembourg
  • Ms. Selvarany Rasiah, Chief Regulatory Officer, Bursa Malaysia, Malaysia
  • Mr. Donald MacDonald, Director of Trustee Board, BT Pension Scheme, and Chairman of the Board, Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI)
  • Mr. James Gifford, Executive Director, Principles for Responsible Investment
  • Mr. Paul Druckman, Chairman, Prince of Wales Accounting for Sustainability, United Kingdom
  • Mr. Kris Douma, Head of Responsible Investment & Active Ownership, Mn Services N.V., Netherlands
  • Ms. Song Liping, President, Shenzhen Stock Exchange, China
  • Mr. Seiji Kawazoe, Associate General Manager, Sumitomo Trust & Banking Co, Japan

Agenda

Opening Remarks

Viewing sustainability from a policy perspective: the role of capital markets.This session examines the role key actors in the capital markets can play to promote sustainable development. The session will review current best practices and highlight challenges and opportunities for the future.

This session will address the following questions:

  • How are asset owners and managers integrating ESG issues into their investment policies?
  • What role can stock exchanges play: experiences with ESG indices and disclosure rules
  • How has the financial crisis changed the way regulators view systemic risk, and how does this relate to long term sustainability risks?

 

Finding the best balance between voluntary exchange-led initiatives and regulation.This session looks at how individual markets can find the best balance between voluntary and regulatory initiatives to strengthen ESG practices among listed companies. ESG frameworks in most countries are a mixture of voluntary recommendations and regulatory requirements. Achieving the best balance between these two policy tools can depend on a market’s specific circumstances.

This session will address the following questions:

  • Are there certain subjects that should always be addressed through voluntary initiatives or through regulation? Is there a third way: voluntary requirements?
  • What is the appropriate role for regulators and what should be left to investors or stock exchanges?
  • Is there a difference between enforcing standards of reporting and standards of behaviour?
Breakout sessions: working groups on the role of exchanges, investors and regulators.During this session participants will be separated into three groups – exchanges, investors, and regulators – in order to discuss the various challenges and solutions to the sustainable stock exchanges agenda. After the breakout session, the three roundtable facilitators will be asked to report back during the next session.

Roundtable facilitators will moderate the discussion based on the following questions:

  • What are the main challenges for taking this agenda forward?
  • After hearing about recent developments since the 2009 Sustainable Stock Exchanges Conference, how can we build upon the momentum over the next year? What next steps can we collectively take as a group of exchanges, regulators, or investors?
  • How do we mainstream the ESG agenda amongst our peers, particularly the exchanges, regulators, or investors who are not currently in the room?
Strengthening collaboration to improve the ESG practices of listed companies.This session examines how exchanges, investors and regulators can strengthen their collaboration to further improve the ESG practices of listed companies. The roundtable leaders will present on their main takeaways from the breakout session and proposals for new partnerships and work streams will be discussed.

This session will address the following questions:

  • What are the key takeaways from the breakout session?
  • How can all three groups work together to promote responsible capital markets?
  • What tools, resources, or platforms do exchanges, regulators, and investors need to take this agenda forward?

Press

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