Concurrent Session: | 4 OCTOBER
Can ESG Uphold the Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment in Asia?
DATE AND TIME
4 October 15:30– 17:00 hrs (ICT)
Conference Room 4, UN Conference Centre Bangkok, Thailand
In recent years, environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk has risen in prominence in corporate boardrooms and government chambers. However, the appetite for ESG in Asia is still less developed in relative terms to other markets, especially those in North America and Europe. Frameworks on ESG taxonomy and disclosure requirements in Asia are arguably fragmented at this stage, preventing the wider uptake of ESG by investors. These and other circumstances, unless reversed, present challenges for sustainability professionals and investment advisors who are working hard to promote better outcomes for people and the planet through ESG investing.
The challenges facing ESG are not exclusive to Asia. Critics point out that since its inception in 2004, the term ESG has suffered from a lack of definitive clarity, sparking an array of divergent interpretations and approaches. This has provoked a vigorous debate on ESG’s current capacity to drive responsible business practices. Questions are emerging on how ESG relates to the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, as well as to concepts such as responsible business conduct (RBC) and business and human rights (BHR). Indeed, a close analysis reveals disparities between contemporary ESG practice on the one hand, and authoritative, normative standards such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (OECD Guidelines) on the other.
Against this context, a number of questions emerge.
What is the state of play of ESG in Asia and what are the main challenges to enhancing uptake in the region? What can businesses, regulators, stock exchanges and others do to make ESG investing more effective? What are the opportunities and limitations in unleashing the potential of ESG in Asia to address in particular the triple planetary crisis of environmental pollution, biodiversity loss and climate change?
This session will outline the challenges and the potential of ESG to drive meaningful impact on the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment in Asia. The session will also help define what actions different actors working on ESG in Asia—including companies, regulators, stock exchanges and others—can take to drive sustainability results, including on the SDGs.
The session format will be a panel discussion with opportunities for participants to engage and ask questions.
• Greater appreciation of the state of play of ESG investing in Asia; enhanced understanding of the trends driving ESG investing in Asia
• Challenges to the ESG space in Asia are clearly articulated including on issues related to taxonomy and other areas of unsettled discussion
• Understanding on how ESG relates to, and helps achieve the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
• Understand what roles different actors can play in enabling impactful ESG investments
• Enable participants to articulate benefits to business and others in contributing to meaningful ESG investing efforts.