ICGN: Five ESG issues corporates should not ignore
Jeroen Veldman said pro-active engagement offers significant advantages to corporates in the long-run
ESG is a key discussion in the boardroom, as business leaders recognise achieving or missing ESG targets will significantly affect the landscape in which companies operate, according to Dr. Jeroen Veldman, Professor of Corporate Governance at Nyenrode Business University in the Netherlands.
As the second and final day of the annual ICGN conference in Stockholm is underway, Veldman said corporations must be aware of new legislation from national governments and international organisations demanding more detailed ESG reporting.
He believes pro-active engagement with this emerging landscape offers significant advantages, with five issues being crucial.
Not business as usual
The EU estimates a “business as usual” approach will lead to a 3-4 degree increase in global average temperature, with disastrous knock-on effects for markets and the private sector.
"The idea of ESG was conceived by major investors, central banks and industry standard-setters from 2004 onwards," Veldman said.
The development of standards that include ESG criteria is, therefore, driven by the actions of key bodies in the field of corporate governance, he recalled.
"ESG is a means of measuring risks, but it delivers information on three separate thematic areas that cannot be easily aggregated, Veldman continued.
Critics have argued that ESG reporting should be limited to a much smaller set of issues.
Veldman said that ESG is also prone to becoming “alphabet soup”, where acronyms pile up to the point of being confusing. "In all, ESG is a concept that is still undergoing development."
Moreover, better ESG scores have been correlated with higher corporate performance and greater capacity for innovation.
"Improved risk assessment builds consumer trust and strengthens investment performance," Veldman said.
Early anticipation of ESG regulations will give some companies a competitive advantage, he stressed.
"As global environmental and social crises worsen, higher ESG standards will be demanded. Companies that do not jump on board early risk being pushed by legislation and supply chain bottlenecks," Veldman concluded.