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Arabesque issues 'ESG Book' with support from FIs, investors and businesses

Source: Arabesque

A global alliance of leading financial institutions, investors and businesses have today announced the launch of ‘ESG Book’, a new central source for accessible and digital corporate sustainability information, with the aim of shaping the future of ESG data.

Over $100 trillion of assets under management are today committed to the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), while many of the world’s largest public companies have pledged to meet net-zero targets, as sustainability shapes global markets in the 21st century. However, a lack of disclosure, limited accessibility, and inconsistency of ESG data is limiting the acceleration of capital allocation towards low-carbon and sustainable business activities, just when it is most urgently needed.

In response, an international coalition of partners are calling for a new coordinated approach to ESG data, where corporate sustainability information is widely available, comparable, and transparent.

They include: The International Finance Corporation, UNCTAD, Global Reporting Initiative, Bridgewater Associates, Swiss Re, HSBC, Deutsche Bank, HKEX, Allianz, Glass Lewis, Cardano Development, QUICK, Bank Islam, Goldbeck, Werte Stiftung, WBCSD, Climate Leadership Coalition, Climate Governance Initiative, Climate Policy Initiative, Climate Bonds Initiative, Responsible Jewellery Council, GeSI, and Arabesque.
Supporting the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact, ‘ESG Book’, developed by Arabesque, makes sustainability data more widely available and comparable for all stakeholders, enables companies to be custodians of their own data through a digital platform, provides framework-neutral ESG information in real-time, and promotes transparency.

Available for all companies, investors, standard-setters, and other stakeholders, ESG Book follows five principles based on a mission to create ESG data as a public good:

1. Companies are custodians of their own data

Corporates should have control of their sustainability data by having autonomy over the disclosure and maintenance of data in real-time, unrestricted by the annual reporting cycle. This improves both transparency and market-driven oversight from investors, banks, and business partners, and reduces errors common within the global ESG data ecosystem.

2. Transparency on data usage and interactions brings more meaningful reporting

Once directly connected to their stakeholders, companies should be empowered to report on the most material and valuable issues requested by investors, thereby reducing the noise in reporting, and enabling data gaps to be more clearly identified.

3. Accessibility and impartiality

ESG data should be reported by companies in a clear and consistent manner, and be readily accessible for all stakeholders. Similarly, ESG data platforms should support equal access for all in order to promote greater transparency and provide better and more up-to-date information to guide global capital flows.

4. Framework-neutral

ESG data should be framework-neutral and provide a level-playing field for all market participants, allowing stakeholders to collect and report data based on sustainability questions from multiple frameworks at the same time. It should be adaptable and flexible to respond to a fast-moving market and regulatory environment.

5. Easing the reporting burden

Reported ESG data can be mapped across a range of frameworks simultaneously over time. For example, if a company discloses CO2 emissions according to GRI, other reporting questionnaires can be populated with the same data. This frees up company resources for greater action-driven insights once the reporting company decides to disclose.

On today’s announcement, Georg Kell, Chairman of Arabesque, said:

“The launch of ESG Book marks the evolution of corporate sustainability. It enables more comparable and higher quality ESG data, thereby advancing the mission of making markets more sustainable. Through a technology-driven approach, Arabesque is committed to making ESG data available to all as a public good.”

Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, said:

"There is an increasing need for accessible, comparable, and transparent ESG data in order to build trust and alignment amongst companies, investors, and regulators. ESG Book makes sustainability data available and comparable for all stakeholders. It provides framework-neutral information promoting transparency. In doing so, it supports the strategic ambition of the UN Global Compact to accelerate and scale the global collective impact of business by upholding the Ten Principles and delivering the SDGs through accountable companies and ecosystems that enable change."

Dr Celine Herweijer, Group Chief Sustainability Officer, HSBC, said:

“Institutions and investors need access to reliable and comparable sustainability data, in order to mobilise finance for the biggest enablers of the transition to net zero. Digitalising, streamlining and aligning that information, as ESG Book aims to do, will help banks to navigate the sustainability data landscape and optimise our customers’ transition journeys.”

Eric J. Hespenheide, Chair of the GRI Board, said:

“We welcome that Arabesque is launching ESG Book as a central source for easily accessible, digital corporate sustainability information which incorporates disclosures made using the world’s most widely used disclosure standards, the GRI Standards. We are therefore pleased to certify Arabesque’s use of our Standards in their tool.”

Iris Van der Veken, Executive Director of the Responsible Jewellery Council, said:

“I would like to applaud Arabesque for their leadership and effort as they continue to prioritise the ESG Agenda. The launch of ESG book is a testament to their commitment to developing and promoting sustainable and responsible business practices for all industries. At RJC we are committed to educate all our members on ESG. We believe that 2022 is the year of partnerships and multistakeholder engagement to , we have a duty as industry leaders to bring everyone along on the ESG journey and together we believe we can make real positive impact on the ground. This is the decade of action.”

Joost Zuidberg, CEO of Cardano Development, said:

“Cardano Development is active in the financial sector of developing countries, and is a very engaged stakeholder in the global trends towards consensus in the formulation of ESG and impact strategies for financial institutions. We see in the successful launch of ESG Book, and the impressive support that the team has been able to mobilise, the next step in achieving this consensus. The scaled and effective solution offered by Arabesque will encourage parties to implement ESG policies more readily and more comprehensively.”

Jan-Hendrick Goldbeck, Managing Director of Goldbeck, said:

“A company’s motivation to operate sustainably should be first and foremost intrinsic and pursued with all courage, innovative spirit and drive for the sake of future generations. With the help of the ESG Book, however, this self-commitment becomes transparent, measurable and comparable - thus becoming a decision-making memorandum for some and a competitive advantage for others. This is an important step in the sustainable evolution of the global economy, and we are glad to be helping to shape this path.”

Luis Neves, CEO of Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), said:

“Companies joining GeSI’s Digital with Purpose Movement are taking a fresh and progressive approach to how they do business. They take our pledge to build for the long-term and share our ambition to create business value through radically accelerating the enabling power of digital technology. Yet, to effectively tackle the health of our planet and inequality across society, it will take a big team effort.

Hence, we are delighted to be working in partnership with Arabesque, leveraging their expertise in ESG reporting to ensure our member organisations have a robust reporting mechanism in place. Their ESG Book provides the technology platform needed to measure the vital progress being made against stated goals, thereby giving companies, stakeholders and investors much needed insight into ESG performance.”

Dr Daniel Klier, President of Arabesque, said:

“Alongside a coalition of founding partners, we are excited to launch ESG Book and deliver a new digital solution that connects companies, investors and standard-setters for a more accessible and centralised approach to corporate sustainability information. Through this platform, we aim to shape the future of ESG data.”

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