South East Asian Capital Market Leaders Pursue Sustainable Business Agenda

Thai Minister of Finance H.E. Sommai Phasee welcoming participants of the High Level Policy Dialogue at the 2015 Regional Dialogue South East Asia

For the event programme, list of speakers, and press coverage please click here. 

(Bangkok, 18 May 2015) The United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative, a peer-to-peer learning platform for exploring how stock exchanges can promote improved corporate performance on environmental, social and governance issues, held its first Regional Dialogue for South East Asia in the heart of Bangkok earlier today.

Hosted by the Stock Exchange of Thailand and opened by Thai Minister of Finance H.E. Sommai Phasee, UNCTAD Secretary General Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi and UNEP Regional Director and Representative for Asia and the Pacific Mr. Kaveh Zahedi, this unique platform convened capital market leaders to tackle the most relevant and pressing sustainability topics in the region’s capital markets.

Involving more than 150 participants from 13 countries, the region’s first SSE Regional Dialogue included high level policy makers and capital market regulators alongside senior leadership from the stock exchanges of Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. The SSE platform provided an opportunity for these capital market stakeholders to work toward consensus on the role each can play to improve environmental, social and corporate governance performance

Ms. Kesara Manchusree, President of The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET), said the event was another step forward after SET became the first exchange in ASEAN to join the UN SSE initiative in July 2014. The move reinforces SET’s upcoming fifth decade of commitment to promote a sustainable development mechanism for the capital market and society.

“This first SSE Regional Dialogue in ASEAN was a platform for executives in ASEAN and global capital markets to exchange views on driving sustainable development, followed by a practical workshop to assist investors, listed companies and other capital market stakeholders in conducting Sustainable Development Reports and risk management,” added Ms. Kesara Manchusree.

“2015 may one day be viewed as a milestone year for sustainable development. It will mark the finalisation of the Sustainable Development Goals in September and the completion of a new inter-governmental global climate agreement in December. Ahead of these, the SSE Regional Dialogue provided an unparalleled opportunity for South East Asian market leaders to explore the role of stock exchanges, together with investors, companies and regulators, in facilitating the transition to a low carbon and inclusive economy,” said Mr. Eric Usher, acting Head of the UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP FI).

UNCTAD Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi welcomes new members of SSE initiative: Bursa Malaysia, Hanoi and Hochimin stock exchanges

During the Regional Dialogue, leaders of the Hanoi, Hochiminh and Malaysia Stock Exchanges announced their Public Commitments to join the SSE initiative as SSE Partner Exchanges.

“Hochiminh Stock Exchange (HOSE) is honored to join 19 leading exchanges around the world to become a partner of the UN’s Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative. Sustainability has been increasingly recognized as an important issue in capital markets. In Viet Nam, in fact, listed companies’ sustainability has been closely monitored and assessed in HOSE Annual Report Awards. Adopting the Initiative, HOSE positions itself in the focal role to promote good practices in the field, as the home to major public listed companies in Viet Nam,”  said Mr. Tra Le, Deputy CEO of HOSE.

Mr. Trung Nguyen Vu Quang, HNX Deputy CEO announces the Hanoi exchange's partnering with the UN’s Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative

“HNX recognizes that the participation in SSE will give stock exchanges an opportunity to gain more experience in enhancement of sustainable investment in global securities markets, which is in sync with the target to upgrade Vietnam’s securities market of the State Securities Commission of Vietnam. As HNX has made some achievements in promoting the Corporate Governance practice of our listed companies for the past years, we do look forward to getting much experience and knowledge from other SSE partner exchanges for successful implementation of our future cooperation plan on enhancement of  Green finance,” said Mr. Trung Nguyen Vu Quang, HNX Deputy CEO.

Dato’ Tajuddin Atan, CEO of Bursa Malaysia said, “Bursa Malaysia is pleased to join the other global exchanges on the SSE platform as a Partner Exchange. This integrates well with our existing agenda and commitment to stepping up our efforts in promoting sustainable practices in our marketplace. The conversation on sustainability started almost a decade ago with the introduction of the Bursa Malaysia Corporate Responsibility framework in 2006, leading on to the introduction of ASEAN’s first globally benchmarked Environment, Social & Governance index (“ESG Index”), the FTSE4Good Bursa Malaysia ESG Index (“F4GBM index”) in December last year.”

“The F4GBM index will be the reference point and benchmark that companies can aspire to in efforts to step-up the standards in stakeholder value creation and allow for investors to take into consideration non-financial aspects such as a company’s environmental and societal initiatives. Our joining as SSE Partner Exchange also complements our ongoing efforts in promoting sustainable practices which includes mandatory reporting, issuances of guides, advocacy and training. We look forward to participating in the SSE initiative as a global forum for sharing best practices on sustainability and capital markets,” Mr. Dato’ Tajuddin Atan added.

“The support and leadership from exchanges in the ASEAN region on sustainability issues is remarkable. With continued efforts and increased global collaboration-through platforms like the SSE and UN Global Compact- we will be well placed to meet the challenges and opportunities surrounding the implementation of the upcoming sustainable development goals,” said Gavin Power, Deputy Director of the UN Global Compact.

Engagement with senior capital market regulators was also an essential element of the SSE Regional Dialogue. Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission’s Secretary General Mr. Rapee Sucharitakul and Vietnam’s State Securities Commission Deputy Chairman Mr. Nguyen Thanh Long were both on hand to confer with exchanges and investors about how to promote sustainable capital markets.

UNCTAD Secretary General Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi addressing participants of the High Level Policy Dialogue at the 2015 SSE Regional Dialogue South East Asia

One of the largest institutional investors in the region Mayasia’s Khazanah Nasional Berhad, was represented by Deputy Chairman Mr. Mohamed Yakcop.

“There is a heightened interest in ESG and sustainability issues across South East Asian markets,” said Fiona Reynolds, Managing Director of the Principles for Responsible Investment. “The SSE is the ideal platform to facilitate vital discussion on these topics amongst policy makers and investors, as well as PRI signatories in this rapidly growing region.”

Following the success of South East Asia’s first SSE Regional Dialogue, the SSE initiative will convene further high level dialogues around the world in 2015 to bring private capital market actors’ support to inter-governmental negotiations on sustainable development and climate change.

“What we’ve seen today in South East Asia gives us confidence in the willingness and ability of capital market leaders to promote investment in sustainable development,” said James Zhan,  Director of UNCTAD’s Investment and Enterprise Division, reflecting on his dialogue with stock exchanges, institutional investors and policy makers in Bangkok. “But to tackle the challenges embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals, more will need to be done to ensure that investment translates into sustainable development outcomes. To begin action now on the post-2015 development agenda, we will continue this series of SSE Regional Dialogues, convening capital market leaders in Scandinavia and Africa later this year.”

The SSE initiative is convened by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the UN Global Compact, the UN Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative (UNEP-FI) and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). Interested parties are encouraged to visit the SSE website for more information on specific exchanges’ sustainability efforts and further opportunities to advance the integration of sustainability within capital markets.

Thai Minister of Finance H.E. Sommai Phasee and UNCTAD Secretary General Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi with participants of the High Level Policy Dialogue at the 2015 SSE Regional Dialogue South East Asia in Bangkok, Thailand

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