SGX, MAS launch ESG reporting portal for corporates

Janice Lim
Published Mon, Sep 12, 2022 · 09:05 AM

SINGAPORE Exchange (SGX) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) have launched an online sustainability reporting portal aimed at streamlining disclosure for corporates and improving data quality.

Called ESGenome, the disclosure portal will be offered free to listed companies here on a voluntary basis, for now, SGX and MAS said in a joint press release on Monday (Sep 12). Investors and financial institutions will also have access to the environmental, social and governance (ESG) data of companies and compare them.

Speaking at the launch of the portal on the same day, Loh Boon Chye, chief executive of SGX, said effective ESG reporting is important for companies to manage their business risks and also a powerful tool to attract investors and financing.

Companies can upload their ESG disclosures onto the platform based on the reporting frameworks they have adopted, including customised metrics. Because the platform has mapped out a number of different reporting frameworks, an input provided for one framework is automatically matched to similar requirements in other frameworks if the company needs to report in more than one format. The frameworks include the set of 27 core ESG metrics that SGX has recommended issuers use as a starting point for sustainability reporting.

Listed issuers can use the platform to generate sustainability reports that would meet disclosure requirements of the exchange. They can also allow external parties, including financial institutions, ESG rating agencies and investors, to access some or all of their data.

As corporates have to report their ESG data using a core set of metrics as the baseline, the hope is that this will also shape the disclosure behaviour of companies where their sustainability reports are more quantitative in nature, as opposed to the current narrative-driven form of reporting, said Chan Kum Kong, head of research at SGX.

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“For investors and financial institutions, ESGenome provides access to relevant and comparable ESG data that allows for meaningful peer benchmarking and tracking of sustainability commitments and key performance indicators. This enables capital to be mobilised more efficiently toward sustainable companies and projects,” SGX and MAS said in the joint release.

However, investors and financiers are unable to access this data on their own at this point. They can only view the information if given access by the companies themselves.

Chan said the portal needs to be populated with more data first, and necessary access will be provided to investors once a critical mass has been reached.

SGX and MAS said that the proliferation of multiple sustainability reporting frameworks and guidelines across jurisdictions, and the inconsistent manner in which data is being collected, verified and reported have created significant disclosure challenges and resulted in poor ESG data comparability.

“With corporate sustainability disclosures representing one of the largest sources of ESG data globally, there is great scope to harness technology to enhance such disclosures and comparability of data to support the financing decisions needed for a credible transition,” according to the release.

As part of Project Greenprint, which refers to a collection of initiatives from MAS that aims to make use of technology and data to develop a more transparent ESG ecosystem, the financial regulator also said that it will utilise learnings from ESGenome to address the reporting needs of non-listed corporations, including small- and medium-sized enterprises.

The platform, which is being paid for by SGX and MAS, has received early endorsements from both issuers and their stakeholders. About 40 listed companies were involved in its pilot.

Lendlease, First Real Estate Investment Trust, OUE Lippo, CapitaLand Investment, Singtel, City Developments Limited (CDL) and OCBC Bank are among some listed companies that have come on board the portal.

Chng Bee Leng, head of OCBC’s ESG risk and sustainability, said that ESGenome takes corporate Singapore one step forward in enhancing ESG and sustainability disclosures and will support financial institutions in making more accurate, evidence-based decisions in sustainable financing and investments.

“Looking ahead beyond the pilot, we will continue to assess the requirements and features of ESGenome closely to determine how best to fulfil the needs of the bank and its stakeholders,” she said.

Esther An, chief sustainability officer at CDL, said that the property developer will continue using the portal as one of its platforms to communicate its ESG performance to investors and the broader investment community.

Having published 15 sustainability reports, An said, CDL recognises the challenges faced by companies embarking on their ESG reporting journeys.

“This platform with a clear set of 27 ESG indicators will be very helpful for companies in their early stages of ESG reporting, which can be daunting given the complexity of reporting scope and process of data collation and analysis,” she added.

Singapore Airlines said that it is committed to reporting its sustainability information in a transparent and open manner, and will review the requirements and benefits of the portal.

Chew Sutat, protem chairman of the listed-company association SGListCos, called the platform timely: “Fortifying the required guidance, while simplifying the reporting process, will be very beneficial especially for mid-small companies.”

In addition to it being timely, the portal will act as a catalyst for ESG integration into investor decision-making and corporate strategy, said Helge Muenkel, chief sustainability officer at DBS Bank. 

“Building robust data analytics capabilities will also help companies produce trusted ESG performance reporting, allowing investors to then incorporate that insight into their investment decision-making process,” he added.

Ong-Ang Ai Boon, director of the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), said: “This is a good common disclosure utility, giving ABS a timely use case for our banking members to collect data directly from the private sector and in particular, (from) SME clients, (which are) an important data set that is currently missing.”


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