Today, eight stock exchanges from Nordic countries joined the UN’s Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative. The announcement came at a special gathering of the region’s exchanges in Helsinki, Finland, organized by UNCTAD, UN Global Compact, UNEP Finance Initiative and Principles for Responsible Investment, and hosted by Nasdaq Helsinki. Now with more than half of the world’s major exchanges involved, stock exchanges are emerging as a powerful voice for responsible business.
"I am proud to welcome Nordic stock exchanges to this UN initiative. This is the start of a partnership, where Nordic leadership and support is critically important,” said UNCTAD Deputy-Secretary General Mr. Joakim Reiter. “Stock exchanges are uniquely positioned between policy makers, investors and companies to facilitate a new market dynamic that puts sustainability centre stage.”
The exchanges of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden join a growing sustainability movement, now covering 39 stock exchanges across five continents.
“We at Nasdaq Helsinki are proud to host the very first UN SSE Regional Dialogue in Europe here in Finland. We hope that together we will find a common view on the next steps to further develop the environmental, social and governance performance of listed companies”, said Lauri Rosendahl, President of Nasdaq Helsinki.
In the context of the United Nations new Sustainable Development Goals, launched in September of this year, there is greater drive among stock exchanges, investors and companies to promote sustainable business practices. “Today we may still have more questions than answers, but we need to acknowledge leadership and define our responsibilities. We see the SSE Partnership as a crucial tool for enhancing our efforts, and thank the United Nations for this significant initiative,” said Mr. Rosendahl, the Regional Dialogue's host.
Leaders of exchanges and investors gathered in Finland for the Regional Dialogue, to discuss how they can contribute to sustainable development, both in their own region and through their industry around the world.
Evan Harvey, Nasdaq; Daiga Auzina-Melalksne, Nasdaq Riga; Magnus Billing, Nasdaq Nordic; H.E. Joakim Reiter, UNCTAD; H.E. Olli-Pekka Heinonen, Finland; H.E. Per Bolund, Sweden; Bente Landsnes, Oslo Bors; James Zhan, UNCTAD; Lauri Rosendahl, Nasdaq Helsinki
“Sustainable development, shaped by the new UN Global Goals, will require contributions from all sectors, especially from the investment community,” said Mr. James Zhan, Director of UNCTAD’s Investment and Enterprise Division. “With the right policies in place, investment can make possible the sustainable development solutions the world is looking for.” UNCTAD’s Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development calls on stock exchanges to enable innovative financing mechanisms and promote a reorientation of financial markets through improved corporate sustainability reporting.
The SSE Regional Dialogue was hosted by Nasdaq, the largest stock exchange group in the Nordic countries. Nasdaq New York, the parent firm of the Nasdaq group was one of the founding signatories of the SSE initiative at the Rio Earth Summit in 2012.
“Nasdaq has always been a believer in the virtues of sustainability,” said Mr. Magnus Billing, President of Nasdaq Nordic. “As a sustainable exchange operator, we continuously encourage and support the environmental, societal and governance performance of our listed companies. We are proud of our collaboration with the SSE initiative, and we look forward to continue our efforts in this field.”
“Nasdaq Riga is thrilled to be part of this important initiative," said Ms. Daiga Auzina-Melalksne, Head of Nasdaq Riga. “We fully support and understand the benefits that socially and environmentally responsible business and sustainable investments provide. We look forward to working with the SSE experts in improving sustainability practices within our listed companies and making greater impact on investors’ community.”
In addition to the seven Nasdaq exchanges that operate in the Nordic region, Oslo Børs also became a Partner Exchange and participated in the SSE Regional Dialogue. "Oslo Børs are pleased to be joining the SSE initiative. We indeed support transparent and secure capital markets with a high degree of integrity. Oslo Børs was for example the first exchange to launch a separate list for green bonds,” said Ms Bente Landsnes, Oslo Bors President and CEO. “The SSE is an excellent platform to discuss and further develop best practice approaches in sustainability, and we will now join the discussions."
Capital Markets are set to maintain this momentum for sustainable development in December at the SSE Leaders Luncheon on Climate. The luncheon will address how capital market leaders can help to deliver the forthcoming climate change agreements in Paris, taking place alongside the UN climate change summit (COP21) on 7 December 2015.
“Sustainability is at the heart of what transparent and well-functioning public markets contribute to the economy. Stock exchanges sustain transparency, visibility, accountability and growth in the economy, and now we are pleased to be part of a push to also promote environmental sustainability," said Bjørn Sibbern, President of the Nasdaq Copenhagen exchange. "Denmark has for years been at the forefront of clean tech development and by joining the Sustainable Stock Exchanges we can now talk the walk,” he added.
“Nasdaq Vilnius has been a strong promoter of sustainable development of listed companies and investors in Lithuania for more than 20 years. We are very excited to join the SSE initiative as we believe that every step forward made by different capital market participants in different countries will result in a huge cumulative progress," said Ms. Arminta Saladžiene, Head of Nasdaq Baltic and President of Nasdaq Vilnius
"Although Nasdaq Tallinn listed companies serve as role models for other Estonian companies every day, we're very much looking forward to joining the UN initiative to further improve the sustainability of our market and the companies on it," said Mr. Rauno Klettenberg, Head of Nasdaq Tallinn
“For us at Nasdaq Iceland collaborating on the SSE initiative is a natural project for us to be a part of and we are very proud of it. Already some of our listed companies have taken on corporate sustainabilty programs, and we will explore how we as an exchange can support them more, as well as work with policy makers and others in examining how best practices can be cultivated in this field," said Mr Pall Hararson, President of Nasdaq Iceland
The SSE is a peer-to-peer learning platform for exploring how exchanges—in collaboration with investors, regulators, and companies—can encourage sustainable investment and enhance corporate transparency, and ultimately performance, on ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) issues.
The SSE is convened by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the UN Global Compact, the UN Environment Program’s Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).
All interested parties are encouraged to visit the SSE website for more information on specific exchanges’ sustainability efforts and further opportunities to advance the integration of sustainability within capital markets.
The SSE partners with exchanges, investors and other capital market leaders worldwide to bring capital market players together to identify, discuss and take collective action on common sustainability issues pertinent for their region or globally.
These high-level events are open to the public and bring exchanges together with policy makers, regulators, investors, companies and other relevant stakeholders.