Refinitiv, one of the largest providers of financial markets data and infrastructure, has recently published their inaugural Financing a Sustainable Future in Asia report. Said report is the first in a series that will focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance of the largest companies across the Asia region. This first edition report places particular emphasis on environmental performance metrics.
The report finds that Asia’s largest companies are comparable with their global peers in reporting on environmental sustainability, with the average environment score1 for the Asia region (62.34) slightly exceeding the global average (59.6). Out of the eight Asian markets studied, companies in Hong Kong recorded the best overall performance in Asia with an average score of 70.06, followed by South Korea (64.57) and India (63.12).
However, the report shows a clear gap between intention and action. A greater portion of Asian companies have policies on emissions, waste management, and water efficiency, than those with actual targets for improvement.
In addition, the report also highlighter that Asian businesses are making considerable progress in creating ethical supply chains. The largest increase in companies with supply chain policies has been in Singapore, which saw a 40 per cent jump over five years, from 15 per cent in FY2013 to 55 per cent in FY2017. However, Singapore is lagging slightly behind in the production of environmentally conscious products; with roughly 40 per cent of companies developing environmentally goods and services compared to 56 per cent in the Asia region.
Biodiversity is the area where most Asian companies are lacking; though the global statistic is not promising either. Only 24 per cent of companies globally are measuring biodiversity impact with 29 per cent in Asia measuring this. Across the region, Japanese companies are the most advanced in this area, with 40 per cent measuring biodiversity impact, and Taiwan the lowest at 12 per cent.
“With Asia set to lead global economic growth in the coming decade, the region’s companies and business leaders will play a prominent role in the sustainable development agenda. As many of the world’s most pressing environmental and social concerns, such as climate change and social inequality, reach critical junctures, it is important that companies take their responsibilities seriously. ESG data and transparency play an important role to drive and influence the changes required to sustain future economic and social growth,” said Elena Philipova, Global Head of ESG at Refinitiv.