The Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE) will be introducing ESG (environment, social and corporate governance) guidance this year to assist listed companies wishing to incorporate ESG reporting into their existing reporting processes.
“The publication of this ESG guidance is a first step in what we hope will be the start of a transformative process in our market. The ESG guidance encourages issuers to publicly share ESG information on a recurring basis,” QSE chief executive Rashid bin Ali al-Mansoori told the second Investor Relations Award, instituted by the QSE, in association with Iridium.
Stressing that adherence to the ESG Guidance would be based on voluntary participation, he said ESG comes as part of the sustainable stock exchanges (SSE) initiative of the United Nations.
The SSE initiative is a peer-to-peer learning platform for exploring how exchanges, in collaboration with investors, regulators, and companies, can enhance corporate transparency — and ultimately performance — on ESG issues and encourage sustainable investment.
The SSE — organised by the UN Conference on Trade and Development the UN Global Compact, the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative and the Principles for Responsible Investment — works through three main pillars of consensus building, research and capacity building.
“We are committed to promoting sustainable practices in our markets in the belief that businesses will only be successful in the long run if their models respect the triple bottom line of ‘profit, planet and people’,” al-Mansoori said.
Highlighting that investors are increasingly communicating their need for greater disclosure and transparency from publicly-listed companies, SSE said stock exchanges have a strategic role to play in this shift: they can encourage responsible investments by offering sustainability indices and other relevant financial instruments. “Moreover, by encouraging their listed companies to measure and publicly report their ESG performance and impacts, stock exchanges can promote better business practices within their capital markets,” it added.
A number of UN member countries are now adopting sustainability frameworks for their capital markets. Many have ‘comply or explain’ rules that help to guide disclosure for listed companies (and even non-listed companies). There are various challenges to the design, implementation, capacity and awareness of these initiatives and there is no “one size fits all” approach for markets around the world.
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