On 23 February 2022, the European Commission published its much-anticipated draft corporate sustainability and due diligence directive (the “Draft Directive”).  The Draft Directive sets out a proposed EU standard for human rights and environmental due diligence (“HREDD”) which, importantly, would apply to any non-EU-based company and its subsidiaries  if those group companies have aggregate annual net turnover in the EU of:

  • more than EUR 150 million (Group 1); or
  • more than EUR 40 million with at least 50% of net worldwide turnover generated in a “high-risk” sector which includes textiles, clothing and footwear, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food & extractives (Group 2).

Notably, the HREDD applies even if a company and its subsidiaries do not have a physical presence in the EU, if the above net turnover threshold is met.

The Draft Directive requires both Group 1 and Group 2 companies to take appropriate measures to identify, and mitigate, actual and potential adverse human rights and environmental impacts arising from their own operations anywhere in the world (not just in the EU) and, where related to their value chains, from their “established business relationships”.

Colleagues from our offices throughout the world have prepared briefings which are specific to particular locations, giving insights into related matters in those jurisdictions.

Continue Reading Human Rights and the Environment – What non-EU-based companies need to know regarding the EU draft Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive

On May 12, 2022, Singapore’s Green Finance Industry Taskforce (GFIT) published a second consultation paper on its proposed taxonomy for Singapore-based financial institutions (“Singapore Taxonomy”), which aims to provide a common framework for classification of economic activities upon which financial products and services can be built and combat greenwashing by setting

­In a previous blog post, we noted that the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) will shortly publish its proposed general sustainability-related and climate disclosure requirements.

On 31 March 2022, the ISSB published highly anticipated drafts of IFRS S1 General Requirements for Disclosure of Sustainability-related Financial Information (General Requirements Exposure Draft) and IFRS S2 Climate-related Disclosures (Climate Exposure Draft) for public consultation and comments. Each of the Exposure Drafts are accompanied by a ‘Basis for Conclusions’ and ‘Illustrative Guidance’ document. A high-level summary of the proposed requirements is available here.

Continue Reading International Sustainability Standards Board Begins Public Consultation on Draft Proposed Standards on General Sustainability-Related Financial and Climate-Related Disclosures

In a further effort to help listed companies align their ESG-related disclosures in line with other international standards and best practices, and to build on ESG reporting landscape in Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) have identified 12 technical skills and competencies for professionals within the sustainable finance sector.

The Sustainable Finance Technical Skills and Competencies (SF TSCs) are part of the IBF Skills Framework for Financial Services which seeks to provide vital information to upskill and train current and incoming talent within banks, asset management and insurance sectors to strengthen their sustainability-related offerings and services.

Continue Reading Singapore Seeks to Bolster Skillset for its Sustainable Finance Professionals

In December 2021, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) issued the results of its pilot climate risk stress test (CRST).  The CRST assesses the potential impact of climate change on the Hong Kong banking sector.  It marks the latest such publication by a regulator on the topic, with French regulator, Autorité de contrôle prudentiel et de résolution (ACPR), having published the results of its climate risk stress test in Q2 2021 and a number of other countries’ regulators undertaking similar analyses during 2022.

The CRST indicates that the Hong Kong banking sector should remain resilient to climate-related shocks given the Banks’ strong capital buffers. However, it was noted that simplified assumptions and use of historical data in modelling could mean the potential impact could be more serious than predicted.

The exercise identified various climate-related vulnerabilities for Banks to seek to address and highlighted gaps in terms of insufficient granular, reliable data, as well as a lack of widely-accepted standards for classifying and identifying climate risk exposures.  HKMA notes that addressing these issues will require concerted efforts of the industry.

In this Blog Post, we set out a high level summary of the CRST in terms of the scope of the CRST, pertinent findings and actions required to enhance climate risk management going forward.

Continue Reading HKMA Publishes Report On First Climate Risk Stress Test Of The Hong Kong Banking Sector

In order to implement the “Plan for the Reform of the Legal Disclosure System of Environmental Information” issued by China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) in May 2021, the MEE has issued new disclosure rules (Rules) that will require domestic entities to disclose a range of environmental information

On December 15, 2021, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) responded to two consultations addressing a range of ESG-related topics that could significantly change the ESG reporting landscape for listed companies in Singapore. The consultations address the implementation of (i) mandatory climate-related disclosures for certain sectors aligned with the Recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), (ii) mandatory diversity-related disclosures for all issuers and (iii) a list of 27 “Core ESG Metrics” to help listed companies align their ESG disclosures with international standards and best practices on a voluntary basis.

As SGX otherwise requires ESG reporting on a comply-or-explain basis only, these proposals represent a shift toward an increased focus on mandatory climate and diversity disclosures that, in particular, has taken hold among Asian regulators. Just this month, the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong implemented mandatory gender diversity requirements and Hong Kong’s Cross-Agency Steering Group reported “progress towards mandating climate-related disclosures aligned with the TCFD framework by 2025 across relevant sectors”, while a group of Malaysian regulators announced their intention to implement mandatory TCFD disclosures by the end of 2024.

In this Blog Post, we highlight key aspects of the recent SGX announcements and provide guidance on how companies are already implementing ESG frameworks incorporating TCFD and more.

Continue Reading Singapore Regulator Prioritizes TCFD, Diversity and ESG Metrics in New Disclosure Rules and Guidance

“Delivering effective corporate governance practices and ESG measures is more than a box-ticking exercise. The change needs to begin with a shift of mindset at the top of the organisations.” – SEHK, December 2021

On December 10, 2021, the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (SEHK) published the conclusions from its April 2021 consultation on amendments to the SEHK’s Corporate Governance Code (the Code) and Listing Rules intended to promote good corporate governance practices among listed companies and IPO applicants. The final amendments address a range of topics that could significantly change the way that the boards of covered entities operate, including with respect to gender diversity, ESG reporting timelines and the role that ESG plays in corporate governance structures and processes.

In this Blog Post, we highlight final amendments to the Code and the Listing Rules addressing the link between ESG and good corporate governance, ESG reporting and gender diversity at both the board and workforce levels.

Continue Reading ESG and Gender Diversity Requirements Finalized for Listed Companies and IPO Applicants in Hong Kong

On November 26, 2021, Hong Kong’s Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority (MPFA) advanced the Special Administrative Region’s sustainable finance strategy with new Principles for Adopting Sustainable Investing in the Investment and Risk Management Processes of MPF Funds (the Principles). The Principles lay out a high-level ESG integration framework for trustees of Mandatory Provident Funds (MPF), the investment vehicles for the Hong Kong’s mandatory retirement protection scheme, across four key elements: governance, strategy, risk management and disclosure.

In this Blog Post, we provide a brief overview of the Principles and highlight each element, as well as important next steps for MPF trustees. We also provide guidance on how companies are already implementing ESG frameworks similar to the Principles.

Continue Reading Hong Kong Regulator Issues Sustainable Investing Principles for Pension Fund Trustees