Capital markets in South Asia have stepped up their efforts to encourage companies to be transparent about their impacts – thanks to engagements by sustainability standards sett Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) with stock exchanges and regulators.
In India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, GRI has collaborated with local exchanges – the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) and the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) – to deliver a series of workshops and seminars. These events, which included panel discussions and peer learning on the sustainability reporting journey, introduced many first-time reporters to the value of the GRI Standards.
Shamim Kabir, Sr. Vice President, Kohinoor Chemical Co. in Bangladesh, was a participant in the GRI-DSE technical series for reporters. He said:
“I have acquired important knowledge from these sessions. If we can adopt sustainability reporting practices in the company, it will benefit not only our company but also our key stakeholders.”
Sakuni Adikaram, Investment Analyst, with Lanka Ventures PLC, reflected on a panel discussion event, hosted by GRI and CSE:
“Speakers spoke passionately about how their company initiated sustainability reporting practices. They gave us practical guidance on how and where to start.”
Two videos are available, to share more widely the work by the GRI South Asia Regional Hub with the CSE and DSE:
- The value to Sri Lankan companies of embracing ESG: How the GRI Standards can add value to the decision-making processes of investors in Sri Lanka
- Growth in sustainability reporting by Bangladeshi companies: an overview of GRI’s engagement with Dhaka Stock Exchange.
In recent years, GRI has entered in to Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreements with the three stock exchanges to promote sustainability reporting practices by listed companies. The GRI MoU with BSE has just been renewed and a program of training and workshops to support businesses in India will be announced soon.
Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Board of India is introducing updated Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report requirements, to which GRI provided expert advice. From next fiscal year, the new rules will require the largest 1,000 listed firms in India to produce a sustainability report, with the GRI Standards explicitly referenced.
Similarly, GRI was consulted by the Bangladesh Bank on the development of their new Sustainable Finance Policy, which sets expectations for all financial institutions and banks to conduct sustainability reporting.
Aditi Haldar, Director of GRI South Asia, said:
“The economies of South Asia are fast growing, yet there remains many opportunities for organizations in the region to embrace more sustainable business practices. We are pleased to be working closely with stock exchanges and regulators, who have an important role in incentivizing listed companies to report.
Through our engagements in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, we are seeing that companies are becoming more receptive to the benefits of robust sustainability reporting, many for the first time, as enabled by the GRI Standards. Not only can they provide the transparency that markets, investors and other stakeholders increasingly demand, they can also adapt their operations to be sustainable and resilient in the long term.”
In May 2021, a GRI publication – Sustainability Reporting Trends in South Asia – revealed that reporting by companies has increased in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, with the GRI Standards the most widely used reporting framework in all three countries.
GRI thanks Australia’s Department for Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) and the Swedish International Development & Cooperation Agency (Sida) for supporting our programs in South Asia.
Global Reporting Initiative is the independent, international organization that helps businesses and other organizations take responsibility for their impacts, by providing the global common language to report those impacts – the GRI Standards.
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KEYWORDS: South Asia, Bangladesh, India, sri lanka, GRI, Global Reporting Initiative, GRI Standards, sustainability reporting