ESG round-up: Australia-New Zealand climate pact sets out plan to ‘align sustainable finance frameworks’ 

The latest developments in sustainable finance: Japan targets 30% women on boards by 2030; WEF partners with ISSB to convene best practice group.

Australia and New Zealand have announced plans to work together on climate change efforts at the inaugural Australia-New Zealand climate and finance ministers’ meeting. Ministers agreed to align sustainable finance frameworks, such as taxonomies, and tools across the Tasman to enhance interoperability, establish a joint working group to support policy implementation, and launch a net-zero government working group to support decarbonising public services, climate-related disclosures and sustainable procurement.

A document issued by the Japanese gender equality bureau has presented plans for Japan to have women account for a minimum of 30 percent of directors by 2030. The government will reportedly push for the target to be included in regulations for companies listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s (TSE) prime market index. First steps would include firms targeting at least one female director by 2025. In April, meeting notes suggested Japan’s market regulator the Financial Services Agency and TSE were looking to increase the mandatory representation of women on corporate boards to 30 percent by the end of the decade, in line with a 2020 target adopted by Keidanren, Japan’s powerful business lobby.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has partnered with the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) to convene a group of sustainability professionals focused on sharing best practices for adopting ISSB standards following their release at the end of June. The partnership was formalised last week by a memorandum of understanding between the WEF and International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation. The group will consist of up to 20 senior preparers of corporate reporting who will give feedback on the feasibility and practicability of the standards and share insights into best practices when applying the standards.

Danish insurance and pension companies finance 7.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gases per year, according to research from the Danish Central Bank. The emissions calculations consist of the companies’ direct emissions (scope 1) and indirect emissions from the purchase of energy (scope 2). Of the total financed emissions, 5.8 million tonnes were due to investments in four sectors including materials (chemicals and packaging), utilities, industrials and energy.

Climate Impact X (CIX), Singapore’s voluntary carbon credits exchange, has launched a spot trading platform, CIX Exchange. In response to industry calls for greater transparency and price certainty, CIX has introduced a daily on-exchange liquidity window, a dedicated 30-minute pricing session that pools all-day liquidity from Asia, Europe and Middle East, which it said will help sharpen benchmark prices and improve order depth for spot nature-based credits.

Symbiotics Investments has issued a $10 million gender-focused bond for Mongolian commercial bank, Khan Bank. According to the issuer, this is the first bond in Mongolia which explicitly targets SDG 5 (gender equality). The bond focuses on employment generation and financing programmes designed to alleviate unemployment stemming from socioeconomic crises. It will target investments in female borrowers and female-managed SMEs. The bond is listed on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange.

The Diversity Project has opened applications to asset managers for its 2024 pathway programme designed to give women the best opportunities to progress and succeed as portfolio managers. The cross-industry initiative is spearheaded by Helena Morrissey, chair of the Diversity Project, and backed by more than 30 member firms. The scheme includes a bespoke curriculum that complements the CFA. This year, 33 firms collectively selected 60 women interested in pursuing a career in portfolio management. The project is targeting 80 candidates for 2024.

Alpha Bank has become the first Greek bank to join the UN-convened Net-Zero Banking Alliance. The bank has formally committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.