Building on previous SSE dialogues in New York (2009) and Xiamen, China (2010), the most recent Global Dialogue was held on 18 June, 2012 in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. The event, which focused on the role of the world’s exchanges in encouraging responsible, long-term investment and creating sustainable financial markets, took place in the days leading up to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (also known as Rio+20) as part of the UN Global Compact’s Corporate Sustainability Forum (CSF).
The SSE 2012 was also part of the Forum’s Economics & Finance of Sustainable Development track. Sessions in this track explored how sustainable finance and responsible investment can contribute to a more efficient allocation of capital towards sustainable development and better achieve longer-term investment goals. The SSE 2012 contributed to the Forum’s objective of bringing greater scale and quality to sustainability practices.
Presenters at the SSE Global Dialogue included the Chairperson of the Brazilian SEC, CEOs and high-level representatives from BM&FBovespa, Borsa Istanbul, Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and NASDAQ OMX. Participants also heard European Parliament Rapporteur on Corporate Social Responsibility, UN officials and representatives from the investment community, including Aviva Investors (UK) and Public Investment Corporation (South Africa).
At the event a new phase of the SSE initiative was launched with the five participating stock exchanges making a public commitment to promoting sustainability in their markets and thus officially joining the SSE as Partner Exchanges. Since the event, several other leading exchanges have joined the group of SSE Partner Exchanges. UNCTAD, the UN Global Compact, the PRI and UNEP-FI, as the core organizer of the SSE initiative, additionally committed to supporting stock exchanges in this strive towards responsible financial markets.
The Dialogue was composed of three sessions. The first focused on the exploration on the role of stock exchanges and capital markets and driving sustainability disclosure and improved performance by listed companies in the context of Rio+20 (for further information, see the Rio +20 outcome document). The second session was devoted to a discussion on the progress of stock exchanges, investors, and regulators in promoting sustainable investment. In this session, capital market leaders showcased current best practices in promoting transparency and increased corporate disclosure and how this information is used in investment decisions. The third and final session focused on the regulatory dimension of ESG disclosure following the Rio+20 conference.
The meeting occurred amid increased political momentum towards achieving a consistent global approach on corporate sustainability reporting, including whether to have a clause on corporate sustainability reporting within the outcome document for Rio+20. As part of this effort, Aviva Investors created the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Coalition, which represents financial institutions, professional bodies, NGOs and investors with assets under management of approximately USD $2 trillion. The CSRC, which currently remains active, called on all governments at Rio+20, to commit to develop a policy framework to further corporate sustainability disclosure amongst listed companies. This culminated in the formal recognition, in the form of Paragraph 47, of the importance of corporate sustainability reporting by the UN.
The Global Dialogue further reflected the findings of the 2012 Sustainable Stock Exchanges: A Report on Progress, which captures the headway made by exchanges over the last years in promoting corporate sustainability.. Based on a survey of 27 of the globe’s largest exchanges, the report found that the majority of exchanges would welcome a global approach to consistent and material corporate sustainability reporting.