Corporate sustainability has evolved from the traditional corporate social responsibility paradigm to incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles in business’ practices and strategy. This evolvement is in tandem with growing demands from consumers and investors that financial returns are achieved with integrity, backed with environmental and social considerations.
In recognition of this growing trend and demands, the Singapore Exchange specified in 2016 that companies would be expected by financial year ending on or after 31 December 2017, on a ‘comply or explain’ basis, to submit sustainability reporting in its annual financial reports. This move from voluntary reporting marks the appreciation of market expectations and growing demand for businesses to communicate their commitment to ESG factors in their business strategy and practices.
In 2015, ASEAN CSR Network and CGIO collaborated on several research projects on the state of corporate sustainability in ASEAN and Singapore, with the aim to engage stakeholders and raise standards in corporate sustainability.
They co-hosted the Conference on Corporate Governance and Responsibility: Theory Meets Practice in July 2016 and released findings on the state of sustainability reporting in ASEAN. They also jointly organised the Roundtable on Sustainability Reporting: Capability Development and Capacity Building on 20 October 2016 and launched the Singapore results at the event. At the same time, they initiated the forming of a Sustainability Consortium of Professionals and Educators (SCOPE) to bring together practitioners, researchers, companies and institutions on the corporate sustainability journey.
CGIO is proud to be actively spearheading efforts in this areas and welcomes our readers to join us on this exciting venture. You may contact Ms Verity Thoi, Manager, CGIO, at verity.thoi@nus,edu.sg.
Sustainability Reporting in Singapore
Currently, sustainability reporting is practiced on a voluntary basis in Singapore. However, from the financial year ending on or after 31 December 2017, sustainability reporting will be enforced on as a ‘comply or explain’ basis for all SGX-listed companies. Under Listing Rule 711A of SGX listing rules, every listed issuer is to prepare an annual sustainability report, which must describe its sustainability practices with reference to the primary components set out in Listing Rule 711B on a ‘comply or explain’ basis. In cases where the company issuer is unable to report on any primary component, it must state so and explain what it does instead, and reasons for doing so.
This study covers the mainboard-listed companies and real estate investment trusts (REITs) listed on the SGX. It assesses the factors driving current developments in the non-financial reporting landscape, conducts comparative analysis with the findings by other segments and provides recommendations on how to improve the adoption and quality of non-financial reporting.
Sustainability Reporting in ASEAN
Individual studies on sustainability reporting for companies in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, have been conducted previously. Each country has varying practices and cultures that could influence its rate of sustainability reporting as well as the comprehensiveness of information disclosed. Together with findings from each respective study, this report reviews the sustainability disclosures of the 4 countries aforementioned and to provide an inter-country analysis. Each country’s strong and improvable merits are also recognised.