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Standard sustainability reporting sought in Asia amidst ESG issues

Calls for harmonisation of standards when it comes to sustainability reporting have increased after demands for transparency from investors, regulators, and stakeholders.

Sustainability reporting in Asia Pacific has been on the receiving end of increasing focus across the region, especially in the middle of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues, a study by PwC with the National University of Singapore Centre for Governance and Sustainability revealed.

This study looked into a total of 700 companies across 11 industries in Australia, China, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

According to the report, stakeholders are putting more weight on the available sustainability information from companies, since assurance of sustainability helps build their trust and confidence.

As proof of progress in 2023’s sustainability reporting landscape, three major proposals were developed globally. These are the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive in Europe, the International Sustainability Standards Board’s international sustainability disclosure standards,  and the climate proposal by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

Despite this progress, sustainability external assurance still needs improvement across the Asia Pacific. To address this, companies must strive for balanced and comprehensive reporting. This means going back to the company’s purpose, and then infusing a wider ESG strategy and interconnectivity in reporting.

Companies can also consider developing a system for collecting data. This will make or break the basis for decision-making both internally and with investors. Quality data is not easy to come by though, so developing a data system will usually work wonders.

Other than addressing ESG issues, integrating sustainability reporting into business strategies and risk management handling can also generate long-term benefits. It can save costs for the company through sustainable resources, and can also attract investors who give a premium to ESG efforts, especially amidst global calls for greener initiatives.

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