SSE Teams up with IFC to strengthen ESG disclosure by listed companies across emerging markets

James Zhan (UNCTAD), Eric Usher (UNEP-FI), and Ethiopis Tafara (IFC) meeting on the sidelines of the UNCTAD World Investment Forum

(23 October 2018) The UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative and the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, have initiated a collaboration to raise environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards across emerging capital markets. Announced at the UNCTAD World Investment Forum in Geneva, the new work stream seeks to strengthen ESG disclosure and reporting requirements for listed companies across emerging markets by providing technical assistance to stock exchange engagement. The goal is to help build investor trust, attract capital, and grow strong local capital markets.

“Stock exchanges and securities-market regulators are increasingly active in promoting sustainable finance. But many exchanges and regulators—especially in smaller developing countries—can benefit from technical assistance to implement sustainable finance mechanisms. We are pleased today to announce the strengthening of our ties with IFC, with the aim of improving our assistance to member states, so that all markets can reap the rewards of sustainable finance,” said James Zhan, UNCTAD Director of Investment and Enterprise and Chair of the Sustainable Stock Exchange initiative’s Governing Board.

“Well-functioning markets require trust,” said Ethiopis Tafara, IFC’s Vice President for Legal, Compliance Risk and Sustainability & General Counsel. “Through our partnership with the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative, we seek to build this trust in emerging markets through greater transparency and reporting. Ultimately, this will help responsible companies attract investors.”

Investors say a lack of consistent and easily accessible information on companies’ ESG performance is an impediment to increasing investments in emerging markets. Adhering to high standards of disclosure and transparency can mitigate some ESG risks.

Market regulators and stock exchanges are uniquely positioned to advance greater transparency and disclosure of material information that enables investors to make better decisions. They can do so by setting best-practice requirements for ESG disclosure by listed companies. This can help build a strong foundation for well-functioning markets and drive improvements in sustainable business practices.

“With the presence of the IFC reaching across the developing world we see great potential to work together in fostering the role of stock exchanges in capital market development and mobilising the financing needed to meet the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Eric Usher, Head of UNEP Finance Initiative and Member of the SSE Governing Board.

“Stock exchanges and security regulators can play an important role in providing an enabling environment for this work to advance. Through this elevated partnership between the SSE initiative and the IFC, we will be able to increase the impact across the more than 70 markets where the SSE has partner stock exchanges.” said Fiona Reynolds, CEO of PRI and Member of the SSE Governing Board

IFC and the Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative will focus on helping local stock exchanges to produce ESG disclosure rules that meet specific local needs. This work will draw on the SSE’s Model Guidance on ESG Disclosure and IFC’s recently released Disclosure and Transparency Toolkit for companies, investors, capital market officials and regulators.

About the SSE

UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Initiative, launched in 2009 by the UN Secretary General, is a UN Partnership Programme of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the UN Global Compact, the UN Environment Program Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). The SSE convenes stock exchanges who join by signing a voluntary public commitment and it currently has 78 Partner Exchanges worldwide. It provides Model Guidance on ESG disclosure for stock exchanges to help with the preparation of ESG reporting guidelines. The SSE has three inter-related pillars of activity: research, consensus building and technical assistance.

About IFC

IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in the toughest areas of the world. In fiscal year 2018, we delivered more than $23 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit


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