World Federation of Exchanges Revises ESG Guidance
The World Federation of Exchanges (“WFE”), the global industry group for exchanges and CCPs, has published a revised edition of its Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) Guidance & Metrics.
Developed by the WFE’s Sustainability Working Group and first published at the end of 2015, the WFE’s ESG Guidance & Metrics are designed to provide a reference point for exchanges looking to introduce, improve or require ESG reporting in their markets. Since its publication, over 35 stock exchanges around the world have issued or committed to issuing ESG reporting guidance for their listed companies.
Today’s revised version seeks to update the 2015 document by:
- Recognising intervening sustainability developments, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) Recommendations;
- Incorporating feedback received from investor groups on the initial WFE Guidance & Metrics document;
- Adjusting the metrics based on implementation experience in certain markets:
There are now 30 baseline metrics (33 in 2015) that form the revised guidance, covering indicators across a range of ESG categories, such as: emissions intensity; climate risk mitigation; gender pay ratio; human rights; ethics and anti-corruption; and disclosure practices.
Other notable revisions include:
- Specifying that investors are the target audience for listed company ESG disclosures:
Exchanges should therefore focus on ensuring the availability of investor-relevant, decision-useful information.
- Providing greater guidance around ESG report preparation, across four key areas:
Governance/responsibility and oversight: Reporting issuers could include a board statement outlining how the company determines ESG issues; how they are embedded in the firm’s strategic direction; and how progress is reviewed and measured.
Clarity of purpose/clear link to business value: Issuers should articulate how the ESG issues they have identified link back to value creation/destruction.
Materiality: Issuers should provide investors with information about their materiality determination process.
Quality/frequency of reporting: Issuers should ensure reporting is accurate; aligns to one of the internationally recognised reporting standards; and is timely.
Nandini Sukumar, CEO, WFE said: “The objective of the original WFE ESG Guidance & Metrics was to contribute to improving the availability and quality of ESG disclosure. We are therefore delighted that since its 2015 publication, so many exchanges have made real progress in this regard. Today’s revised documents will help even more exchanges to promote better ESG disclosure, as part of wider efforts to create a sustainable and inclusive future.”
Siobhan Cleary, Head of Research & Public Policy, WFE added: “We hope the provision of greater guidance around report preparation will lead to improved, decision-useful information for investors. We would, however, caution against ESG disclosure being viewed as an end in itself; instead, it should be seen as part of a toolkit used by exchanges, issuers and investors in their drive for greater market transparency.”
You can read the full 2018 WFE ESG Revised Guidance & Metrics document here, along with an accompanying excel workbook (WFE ESG Revised Metrics June 2018) which lists out the 30 metrics.
The WFE has published a range of research material in the sustainability space, including: the WFE Annual Sustainability Surveys in 2016, 2017 and 2018; and The Role of Stock Exchanges in Fostering Economic Growth and Sustainable Development with UNCTAD in 2017.
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