(Geneva, 8 October) Released today, the SSE 2014 Report on Progress (pdf) frames the discussion of the SSE 2014 Global Dialogue. A review of sustainability initiatives at 55 exchanges found substantial progress, engagement, and a set of emerging best practices among exchanges regarding promotion of sustainability reporting and sustainable business practices more generally. However it also recognized clear potential for the sector to do more. The report notes that many developments in the policy and regulatory landscape have been supportive of late, and highlights practical measures that policy makers and stock exchanges can take to promote sustainability, even in the face of systemic obstacles to sustainable capital markets.
Some key highlights of the report:
55 Stock Exchanges reviewed:
• Over forty per cent of the exchanges reviewed offer at least one index integrating social and/or environmental issues;
• Over one-third of the exchanges provide either sustainability reporting guidance or training to the listed companies on their exchange;
• Twelve of the 55 exchanges require aspects of environmental and social reporting for at least some of their companies, with 7 of those exchanges requiring such reporting for all listed companies.
The policy landscape is also supportive:
• 19 members of the G20 have at least one regulation in place requiring disclosure of some social and/or environmental metrics by companies;
• Of the 32 Securities regulators represented on the board of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), more than one-third have introduced a sustainability reporting initiative.
The sustainability development challenge:
While a ‘new mainstream’ is emerging among policymakers, regulators and exchanges, the sustainability challenges the world faces remain enormous. Further progress by exchanges and their regulators is particularly important given the wider sustainable development context, and the expected introduction of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. At present, financial markets are not set up to channel sufficient funds towards sustainable development objectives.
The UN SSE Initiative is co-organised by UNCTAD, the UN Global Compact, the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment and the UNEP Finance Initiative. Launched in 2009 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the SSE Initiative is a peer-to-peer learning platform for exploring how exchanges (in collaboration with policymakers, regulators, investors and companies) can promote responsible investment for sustainable development. Stock exchanges around the world are invited to join the initiative by signing a voluntary public commitment to promote sustainable business practices in their market.