The Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative hosted its fourth and largest Global Dialogue at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on 14 October during the UNCTAD World Investment Forum.
The initiative’s flagship event, the Global Dialogue, convened the Chief Executive Officers of stock exchanges, companies and institutional investors, alongside high-level policymakers and capital market regulators. This unique gathering offered a global platform to demonstrate leadership and understanding of the sustainability-related opportunities and challenges facing capital markets today.
The SSE currently counts 16 Partner Exchanges from every continent. More than 20 stock exchanges were represented at the meeting, half of them at the Chief Executive Officer level.
“At present, financial markets are not hard-wired to drive capital towards sustainable business and achievement of the sustainable development goals. This can and should change,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said.
“UNCTAD and our SSE co-organizers – the United Nations Global Compact, the United Nations Environment Programme and the Principles for Responsible Investment – can help. We continue to develop the Sustainable Stock Exchange platform to provide a mechanism for policymakers, exchanges, investors and others to share best practices and help to define the role of stock exchanges within the global sustainable development movement,” Dr. Kituyi added.
The BBC’s Tanya Beckett facilitated an interactive dialogue which brought together key players in the field to understand better and act on the sustainability-related opportunities and challenges facing capital markets today.
We're trying to change global governance. It's not easy to do. I'm very pleased with the growth of the SSE initiative... The next step should have some focus on the quality of corporate reporting.
- Richard Howitt,
Member of the European Parliament
We need an affirmative, universal, and global standard that says 'these [environmental, social and governance] issues are material'.
- Sandy Frucher,
Vice Chairman, NASDAQ OMX
The Sustainable Stock Exchanges 2014 Report on Progress was launched at the 2014 Global Dialogue and contained a review of sustainability initiatives at 55 exchanges. The report found substantial progress, engagement and a set of emerging best practices among exchanges regarding the promotion of sustainability reporting and sustainable business efforts more generally.
However, it also recognized clear potential for the sector to do more. The report notes that many developments in the policy and regulatory landscape have been supportive of late and highlights practical measures that policymakers and stock exchanges can take to promote sustainability, even in the face of systemic obstacles to sustainable capital markets.
Notably, SSE Partner Exchanges marked the occasion of the 2014 Global Dialogue by publicly announcing commitments to promote corporate sustainability in their markets during 2014–2016.
Individually, the commitments ranged from launching a sustainability-related national dialogue to contributing technical know-how to social investment funds and analysing listing disclosure requirements. Collectively, they also committed to enhancing their own transparency by issuing a new “Communication to Stakeholders” tool, which will be based on a framework of questions created by the SSE Investor Working Group, the SSE secretariat and the Partner Exchanges themselves. The new Communication to Stakeholders will be available on the SSE website by the end of 2014.
For their part, companies such as Pirelli and Bloomberg LP announced their participation in the new SSE Corporate Working Group, affirming their support for stock exchanges’ role in promoting corporate sustainability. The Group is expected to represent the voice and interests of companies and contribute advice, expertise and knowledge when the SSE calls upon it.
It is moderated by the United Nations Global Compact and runs in parallel with the SSE Investor Working Group. The latter, coordinated by the Principles for Responsible Investment and chaired by Aviva Investors since 2009, is comprised of investors representing approximately US$1.8 trillion in assets under management.
All interested parties are encouraged to visit the SSE website for more information on specific sustainability efforts of exchanges and further opportunities to advance the integration of sustainability within capital markets.
The SSE is convened by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the United Nations Global Compact, the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative, and the Principles for Responsible Investment.