Sustainable development in the world’s fastest growing reporting region
09 March 2016

​​This week, GRI is convening a group of dignitaries, ambassadors, political leaders and CEOs from across the ASEAN region in Manila to discuss the importance of sustainability in Asia’s rapidly growing economies. This marks the start of GRI’s increased outreach and presence in the region to support the development of a sustainable ASEAN economy.
This outreach comes at a time when greater focus is being placed on the ASEAN region. Indonesia and Malaysia were among the top eight countries leading sustainability reporting in the world, with a sustainability reporting rate of 90% or higher in 2015.* Regulatory pressure, in the form of mandatory reporting requirements, has been attributed to prompting the highest corporate responsibility reporting rates worldwide.
 
Increased regulation for more reporting
A 2015 report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, which stated the potentially “catastrophic” risk of climate change to the word’s economy, urged stock exchanges to require disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions by all listed companies.

There has been a definite rise in reporting requirements in the ASEAN region over the past five years. In 2015, Bursa Malaysia (formerly known as Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange) amended its main Listing Requirements to require the disclosure of a "Sustainability Statement" covering material sustainability issues. Companies filling a GRI report are automatically compliant with the new requirement.
 
In 2012, the Indonesian Government introduced new legislation requiring limited liability companies to include social and environmental responsibilities in their annual reports.

And in 2011, the Philippine Government introduced a new legislation requiring all  large  companies  to  submit  the  list  of  activities  relative  to  their  corporate  social  responsibility as  part  of  their annual  report  to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
 
Sustainability challenges facing emerging economies
Increased reporting in the region will enable companies to make more strategic decisions based on their sustainability impacts and performance data, and to be aware of the future challenges and opportunities facing them. This is especially important for emerging economies which are often the hardest hit by sustainability challenges such as climate change.
 
Action on climate change saw a major boost last week with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) announcing that it is backing the issuance of the first Climate Bond in Asia and the Pacific, in a landmark $225 million deal.
 
This landmark deal– the first ever Climate Bond for a single project in an emerging market – will be welcomed by many in light of the recent Paris Climate Change agreement adopted by 195 countries at COP 21 last December.

As part of the deal, ADB will provide credit-enhancement to the Philippine firm AP Renewables, Inc. (APRI), for the Tiwi-MakBan geothermal energy facilities based in the Philippines.
 
“Credit-enhanced project bonds offer an attractive alternative to bank financing, and by mobilizing cost-effective, long-term capital can help close the region’s infrastructure gap,” said Todd Freeland, Director General of ADB’s Private Sector Operations Department.
 
Climate Bonds are used to finance – or re-finance – projects needed to address climate change, and are typically issued by corporations, state-owned rail companies and multilateral development banks, such as ADB. Climate Bonds are growing in importance for many, namely the $22 trillion of investors who are members of the Global Investor Coalition on Climate Change.

Developments such as this highlight the potential for catalytic change in the region on key sustainability challenges such as climate change, poverty and human rights.
 
Sustainability Reporting for Change in the ASEAN Region 
Employing an effective facilitator for foreign direct investment in emerging economies such as Asia is fundamental to building a more sustainable economy, enabling companies to take into account the full scope of sustainability challenges and to ensure that global investment flows are considering these risks.

GRI has a strong history of working in the ASEAN region, supporting local interests which includes working with stock exchanges and development banks. This week, GRI announced its plans to increase its presence and activities in the region, leveraging its vast global network of reporters and strategic partners in over 90 countries to support the development of a sustainable economy across the region. GRI is supported in this work by the governments of Australia, Sweden, Switzerland, and others. Later this month, GRI will deliver workshops to over 100 sustainability reporters across Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines to build capability, the first of which is titled, ‘An introduction to gender equality and corporate sustainability reporting’.

“GRI already helps developed countries invest millions in sustainable development activities in emerging markets to address poverty, human rights and climate change. The sustainability reporting process is used around the world to address challenges that prevent businesses in the region from fully participating in the global economy. I am delighted that GRI will increase its activities across Asia, and particularly the ASEAN region. I look forward to further collaboration to support sustainable economic development across the region,” commented GRI Board member and former Philippine Secretary of Finance, Roberto F. de Ocampo.