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Field Assistance Bulletin relating to ESG issues and shareholder rights for benefit plans (

In 2018, the US Department of Labor (DoL) issued a Field Assistance Bulletin relating to ESG issues and shareholder rights for benefit plans under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act 1974 (ERISA). ERISA establishes minimum standards that govern the operation of private sector employee benefit plans, including fiduciary responsibility rules.

The 2018 Bulletin confirms the principles set out in Interpretive Bulletins issued by the DoL in 2015 and 2016, noting that (a) ESG factors are an appropriate component of a prudent investment decision so long as they are financially material, and (b) shareholder engagement in connection with economically relevant issues is consistent with fiduciary practice. It also confirms that, when ESG issues present financially material business risks or opportunities to companies, these issues should be considered by a prudent fiduciary along with other relevant economic factors to evaluate the risk and return profiles of alternative investments.

About the SSE Regulator Database

How to use it?

The SSE's Securities Regulation Database was originally created as part of its guidance document "How securities regulators can support the Sustainable Development Goals – A sharing of experiences". For the purpose of this guidance, examples were provided that correspond which each of the five main action areas and five supporting actions. As this database grows, examples will continued to be categorized by the main action area or supporting action that they are an example of (which may be more than one). This database can be searched by country (entries are listed in alphabetical order by country) or by the type of action according to the SSE's categories of main action areas and supporting actions. The following types of actions are provided as filters for this database:

Main action areas

  1. Facilitate investment to support the delivery of the SDGs: Aid investment flows to towards achieving the SDGs via financial products.
  2. Strengthen disclosures: Improve the quality and quantity of disclosure on environmental and social data
  3. Clarify duties on sustainability: Guide investors on the integration of sustainability into their decisions
  4. Strengthen corporate governance to support sustainability: Introduce board responsibilities related to environmental and social factors
  5. Build market capacity and expertise on sustainability: Facilitate the training of market participants on sustainability topics.

Supporting actions:

  1.  Analysis: Analyse the factors that influence the ability of market actors to support the SDGs. This analysis can be used to identify gaps and barriers, and to define priorities for action;
  2. Roadmaps: Produce or support the development of national or regional roadmaps for sustainable finance, which can include actions to address gaps or barriers;
  3. Sharing: Share experiences with other securities regulators, and learn from the experiences and practices of others;
  4. Standards: Work with relevant international or regional bodies to implement standardised guidelines or frameworks (e.g. on sustainability reporting, green bonds or responsible investment). Where credible standards already exist, securities regulators could align with these rather than trying to develop new standards from scratch; and
  5. Collaboration: Work with other relevant organisations (e.g. stock exchanges, industry associations and other regulators) to align efforts in support of the SDGs. As part of this process, the participants should review the actions they have taken to support the SDGs to assess the effectiveness of these actions and to capture lessons for future policy interventions.

Users can select one or more filters to identify the examples corresponding with the action they are interested to learn more about. 

To contribute new examples of securities regulation that is supporting the SDGs, please email the examples to the SSE.