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ESG Briefing: GRI launches consultation on new corporate tax standard

The latest ESG market developments.

Environmental

US stock-exchange Nasdaq has launched a new ESG Data Portal to support sustainable investments across the Nordic markets. It claims that the new ESG Data Portal, which adds to Nasdaq’s existing ESG initiatives, OMXS30 Index Future and the Sustainable Bonds Market, will serve as a “bridge between issuers and investors focused on ESG issues”. More than 160 listed Nordic companies, representing a combined market capitalisation of €213bn, have submitted ESG information into the new portal.
The World Bank has introduced SDG index-linked bonds for retail investors in Hong Kong and Singapore, a first for the bank in Asia. The proceeds of the five-year bonds, which raised $3.52m, will support the financing of projects that advance its goals of eliminating
extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity, and that are aligned with the SDGs. The return on investment in the bonds is linked to the Solactive Sustainable Development Goals World MV Index, which tracks 30 companies leading on sustainability, according
to Vigeo Eiris methodology.
Amazon has launched the Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative, a programme providing easy access to data sets on sustainability, including on climate projections, air quality and weather observations and forecasts. Amazon says the programme, a collaboration between Amazon Web Services (AWS) Open Data and Amazon Sustainability teams, enables faster research at a lower cost.

Social

The Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB), the GRI’s independent standard-setting body, is inviting feedback on a new draft standard aimed at promoting greater transparency around a company’s approach to taxes. A recent study by RobecoSAM indicated that only 17% out of 830 companies surveyed were reporting publicly on tax payments at a country level, and most of these were only operating in a single country. Judy Kuszewski, Chair of the Global Sustainability Standards Board, said “Tax revenues and their application are essential to society’s ability to deliver on the SDGs. Likewise, tax transparency promotes trust and credibility in the taxation system and in the tax practices of companies.” For information on how to provide feedback, click here. Governance

Equity markets are reacting to long-term strategic plans presented to institutional investors, according to a new report published by CECP, KKS Advisors and Professor George Serafeim, titled “The Economic Significance of Long-Term Plans”. The authors said they “observed abnormal changes in market returns and an increase in trading volumes providing early evidence suggesting that institutional investors find the information disclosed in these presentations decision-relevant and additive of existing disclosures”. Read the full report here.
Baltimore-based fund giant Legg Mason has said that $183bn of its assets under management are now invested in ESG strategies, up 15% from the previous year. The announcement was made in the firm’s tenth annual corporate social responsibility report.
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the global, CEO-led organisation comprised of over 200 businesses, has launched a new toolkit for companies, helping them to understand how social and environmental issues can be considered in retirement plans. Partners behind the Aligning Retirement Assets Toolkit #1 include investment managers Allianz Global Investors and Legal & General Investment Management, and the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment.
Canada’s largest engineering firm, SNC-Lavalin Inc. has disclosed its lobbying activities following “positive” engagement from investors. Following discussions with Canadian responsible investment body, SHARE and the Fonds de solidarité des travailleurs du Québec, the Quebec based development capital organisation, the firm has published its first annual report on its lobbying and political activities.