Aviva, a British multinational insurance company, is leading the way in efforts to get the stock exchanges more involved in sustainability issues.
In late 2008 the financial crisis prompted the Chief Executive Officer of Aviva Investors to call for a debate with stock market listing authorities on corporate disclosure of material sustainability information.
In 2009, Aviva led the creation of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Investor Working Group to promote sustainable capital markets. It meets quarterly to share findings from engagements with stock exchanges around the world and to spearhead research and reports on best practices. The group supports the work of a UN sponsored effort, Sustainable Stock Exchanges, a peer-to-peer learning platform for exploring how exchanges, in collaboration with investors, regulators, and companies, can enhance corporate transparency, and ultimately performance, on ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) issues to encourage sustainable long-term investment.
In 2011, Aviva Investors continued their efforts and placed a “call to action” for investors to engage with exchanges in their own markets on sustainability issues, and helped organize letters from institutional investors (Principles for Responsible Investment signatories) to 30 of the largest stock exchanges.
Five stock exchanges (NASDAQ OMX, BM&FBOVESPA, The Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Borsa Istanbul and The Egyptian Exchange) in 2012 made a public commitment to promote long-term, sustainable investment and improved sustainability disclosure and performance among companies listed in their markets. As of 2014 thirteen stock exchanges are members of the UN’s Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative including the NYSE and LSE.
Aviva has also funded progress and benchmark studies that address sustainable stock exchange issues, including “Sustainable Stock Exchanges A Report on Progress” in 2012 and financial sponsorship of a 2013 study which ranked the world’s stock exchanges on the extent to which their large listed companies disclosed sustainability indicators.
The company’s Chief Responsible Investment Officer chaired a UN working group that produced guidance for stock exchanges and their regulators. This was formally approved by UN member states last year and included guidance on how they can continue to encourage companies to be transparent about their sustainability performance. Since this guidance was approved, Aviva has engaged with IOSCO (the International Organization of Securities Commissions) to encourage the international stock exchange regulatory body to develop a consistent and coordinated approach.
Exchanges play a vital role in the move towards more sustainable capital markets, as they have the opportunity to influence and monitor companies seeking to access equity markets.
– (Paul Abberley, Chief Executive, Aviva Investors London)
Engage the financial community, including investor shareholders, bankers, insurers and accountants, on the opportunities and benefits of sustainable business models.