(26 September 2019) In celebration of its 10th anniversary, the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative gathered high level capital market stakeholders and SSE partners alongside the UN General Assembly meetings and Climate Action Summit. To commemorate the milestone, the SSE published a report detailing the impact and progress made by capital market stakeholders in the previous decade to advance sustainability and transparency of markets worldwide.
“It is a pleasure to join you on the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative. The United Nations welcomes your global efforts to align financial flows with sustainable development. In the next decade, we must do even more.” said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a video address opening the event.
“On behalf of the SSE, I would like to thank all the stock exchange leaders, securities regulators, investors, standard setters, issuers and international organisations who joined us yesterday in celebrating our 10th anniversary at the New York Stock Exchange. The SSE has grown over the past decade from 5 to 90 exchanges because of the commitment of exchanges to promote sustainable finance. The next decade will witness a great transformation as the world responds to the climate crisis and strives to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Exchanges will play an important role in making an orderly, successful and prosperous transition possible and we look forward to continuing to assist them in these efforts.” said James Zhan, Chair of the SSE Governing Board and UNCTAD Director of Investment and Enterprise.
Since the launch of the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative in 2009 by former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, capital market activities promoting good environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices have seen tremendous growth and development. The SSE has aimed to enhance these sustainability efforts through three pillars of work: consensus building; research; and technical assistance, all of which is built on its network of partners.
The event was hosted by the New York Stock Exchange and was attended by 60 high-level participants from stock exchanges, listed companies (issuers), asset managers and regulatory authorities. As the host of the event, NYSE Executive Vice Chair Betty Liu highlighted a growing understanding within listed companies of ESG and an increasing investment of resources by companies on ESG activities.
Participants of the event were applauded for their progress in embedding sustainability practices throughout capital market activities, while a sense of urgency suggested even faster progress would be needed for the 10 years ahead.
In her keynote address, Mary Schapiro, former head of the U.S. SEC said “meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement will require a significant shift in the financial system toward sustainable investment. Important to this shift is the broad recognition that climate change is not only an environmental problem, but a business one as well.”
“As we kick-start the decade of delivery for the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, stock exchanges have a critical role to play in driving the sustainability transition and mainstreaming the SDG agenda. The UN Global Compact looks forward to supporting the SSE to accelerate this work over the next 10 years.” said Lila Karbassi, Chief of Programmes, UN Global Compact.
The SSE tracks progress of stock exchange sustainability activities through its stock exchange database – which has shown a steep increase in the number of stock exchanges engaging on a variety of different activities aimed at promoting and embedding sustainability in their markets. The number one sustainability activity exchanges currently implement is training for issuers and investors.
The SSE also launched its latest report on this occasion – How exchanges can embed sustainability within their operations – which provides a blueprint for stock exchanges to act on the WFE’s 5th Sustainability Principle. Principle 5 requires that exchanges establish effective internal governance and operational processes and policies to support their sustainability efforts.
“The WFE issued its five Sustainability Principles (the Principles) in October 2018. These Principles encourage WFE members to promote sustainability in accordance with their circumstances and priorities, while also urging them to recognise their social and economic responsibility to help create a sustainable future and act as a role model for other financial institutions,” said Nandini Sukumar, CEO of the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE).
“Both the SSE and the WFE will promote these Principles as the sustainability blueprint for exchanges around the world,” Nandini Sukumar added.
On the occasion of the 10 year anniversary, the SSE published a 10-year impact report detailing the progress made over the past decade, together with a series of editorials from market leaders charting the next 10 years ahead. The report can be found here.
About the SSE
The SSE initiative is a UN Partnership Programme organised by UNCTAD, the UN Global Compact, UNEP FI and the PRI. The SSE’s mission is to provide a global platform for exploring how exchanges, in collaboration with investors, companies (issuers), regulators, policymakers and relevant international organizations, can enhance performance on ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) issues and encourage sustainable investment, including the financing of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The SSE seeks to achieve this mission through an integrated programme of conducting evidence-based policy analysis, facilitating a network and forum for multi-stakeholder consensus-building, and providing technical assistance and advisory services.