JSE launches sustainability and climate change disclosure guidance for listed companies

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The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) today launched its Sustainability and Climate Disclosure Guidance consultation papers to promote transparency and good governance and guide listed companies on best practice in environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosure.

JSE Group CEO Leila Fourie says: “In response to the rapidly evolving landscape of sustainability standards and frameworks, this guidance provides JSE-listed issuers with guidelines specifically tailored to the South African context, whilst being fully cognisant of global best practice. It is intended that this Disclosure Guidance will serve as an umbrella for sub-topic guidance as needed, with the first such guidance on Climate Disclosure, to be released at the same time.” 

Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance and former Governor of the Bank of England, delivered the keynote address at the sustainability and climate change consultation paper launch event. Carney said: “I am extremely grateful during this holiday season to be associated in a small way with this very important launch of model guidance by the JSE. I salute Leila, the JSE and South Africa as a whole for your leadership over the years in developing a system that the world needs and crucially the investment that our fellow citizens need and future generations deserve.”

Guidance as a tool for better disclosure

The JSE recognises the need to create an enabling environment for better disclosure practices to thrive. The Disclosure Guidance is intended to be helpful to companies to align with recent changes in global standards and international best practice regardless of their experience in ESG reporting.

Shameela Soobramoney, JSE Group Chief Sustainability Officer says: “There is a growing expectation on business to play a role in the shift towards stakeholder capitalism, coupled with a growth of investor interest in ESG issues. This shift in expectations creates the opportunity for stock exchanges to play a role.

The JSE has long been recognised for its pioneering role in promoting strong governance and sustainability/ESG disclosure globally, through such initiatives as its progressive listings requirements incorporating the King Codes into the listing rules, its pioneering 2004 SRI Index, and its activities as a founding partner of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative, a signatory to the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), a member and past chair of the World Federation of Exchanges’ (WFE) Sustainability Working Group and more recently as co-chair of the Global Investors for Sustainable Development Alliance (GISD) and member of the Net Zero Service Providers Alliance (NZSPA).

A local perspective based on global best practice

The JSE Sustainability Disclosure Guidance considers many hundreds of ESG metrics currently available and highlights those metrics that are generally well-established, universal, industry-agnostic and that are material to sustainable value creation. This includes the GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards, the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations, the IFRS’s ISSB’s prototypes, and the IIRC’s International Framework – as well as an extensive range of other frameworks and standards, and the ESG guidance of various peer exchanges.

The Disclosure Guidance is not intended to replace any of these global initiatives, but rather seeks to help companies navigate the landscape of reporting standards without being onerous, and to provide explicitly for the South African context. The document takes into account the many hundreds of ESG metrics currently available and highlights those metrics that are generally well-established, universal, industry-agnostic that we believe to be material in the South African context.

“It is our hope that this set of guidance documents will be a valuable resource and tool to all our listed companies, regardless of size or sector and we look forward to receiving your comments and feedback as we refine this work in preparation for the final document to be published in 2022,” concludes Fourie.

The JSE’s Sustainability and Climate Disclosure Guidance consultation paper will be open for public comment between 9 December 2021 and 28 February 2022. Herewith link to consultation papers: https://www.jse.co.za/our-business/jses-sustainability-and-climate-change-disclosure-guidance