Investors urge sign up to IOSCO letter calling for it to back better ESG reporting

Appeal comes ahead of major Sustainable Stock Exchanges conference in October.

Investors are calling on the Madrid-based International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), the association of the world’s regulators and stock exchanges, to improve the availability and quality of ESG corporate reporting ahead of an important upcoming United Nations (UN) hosted conference for the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative (SSE). The conference on October 14 at the UN’s Geneva offices in Switzerland will be followed by a World Federation of Exchanges’ annual meeting where a white paper on ESG reporting is expected to be unveiled. 
The conference is part of the Geneva-based United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) World Investment Forum from 13-16 October.
A letter to IOSCO secretary general, David Wright, has been drafted by members of the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) Sustainable Stock Exchanges Investor Working Group and the Ceres’ Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) Investor Initiative for Sustainable Exchanges. They are urging institutional investors and financial services providers to sign the letter before it is sent to IOSCO in mid-September. The letter says ESG issues are clearly relevant factors to investment analysis and the market valuations of companies. It calls on IOSCO to back improved corporate disclosure of ESG information in its strategic planning process for 2015-2020, noting the securities organisation’s role to “cooperate in developing, implementing and promoting adherence to internationally recognised and consistent standards.” It says this would bring IOSCO in line with the growing international movement on ESG disclosure. One such development, it notes, was April’s European Parliament Directive on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information, which calls for further work by the EU Commission to develop related guidelines. Another, it says, is the Investor Listing Standards Proposal: Recommendationsfor Stock Exchange Requirements on Corporate Sustainability Reporting, which was developed by over 100 institutional investors and recently submitted to the World Federation of Exchanges for its consideration. Indeed, the letter says a challenge for investors, companies and stock exchanges is the proliferation of such reporting standards and codes for ESG, and says IOSCO has a clear role in assessing and mediating. It makes a number of recommendations to facilitate this. One is that IOSCO set up a task force dedicated to improving ESG disclosures whose work would feed into IOSCO’s Issuer Accounting, Auditing and Disclosure Committee.
Another recommends that IOSCO encourages the development of disclosure rules and accountability mechanisms that could help trigger comparable and consistent ESG disclosures across markets without, it says, undue burden and risk.
A copy of the IOSCO letter can be seen in the left hand column under “Downloads”.
Signatories to the letter are being sought before September 16 via Tracey Rembert, Senior Manager for Investor Engagement at Ceres and Danielle Chesebrough, the PRI’s Manager of Investor Engagements with UN Global Compact.

Separately, the PRI is collaborating with the UN Global Compact, UNEP FI and UNCTAD on a white paper which identifies the potential roles that different financial institutions could take in supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The new goals are being drafted to replace the Millennium Development Goals which expire in 2015. The PRI says it welcomes ideas and comments from signatories into this paper via Karin Malmberg, its Manager, Environmental and Social Themed Investing and Principles for Investors in Inclusive Finance.