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ESG: Pathway Towards a Sustainable Future

"Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) will become a mainstream matter in financial markets by 2021. Organizations must extend the concept of ESG to make it more financially relevant and to cover a larger range of disclosures, such as biodiversity and well-being, in order to reach its full potential."

ESG: An Overview

When it comes to sustainability, three letters have recently sprung everywhere: 'ESG.' The term "ESG" may not imply much on their own, but when combined, they indicate an entity's attitude toward environmental concerns, its interaction with society, and the strength of its governance.

With the passage of time, ESG information drew greater attention from investors and stakeholders, who began to assign value to ESGs, encouraging firms to publish their ESG efforts in more organized and consistent reports.

This increased focus caused ESG material to capture more of the spotlight with more important facts and numbers.

ESG: Roadmap to Integrate Investment Decisions

The fact is that many of the necessary adjustments are not occurring quickly enough. Because too many sets of standards are complicated and demanding to follow, the new ESG strategy must have a single set of reporting requirements. It must be broadly embraced and regularly applied.

ESG, on the other hand, must become more closely connected with financial reporting, as well as innovate and adapt to new information needs more quickly. How are we going to get there? Consumers, investors, and other stakeholders will, of course, need to act based on improved knowledge if we are to make progress. Following are the measures of how businesses can create value through ESG:

Respond to Stakeholder Demands

Consumers and regulators are looking for proof of change, not simply transparency. According to the most recent data, 68 percent of consumers feel businesses must strive for beneficial social and environmental consequences.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the United States (US) is undertaking similar discussions with market players. Business leaders should regularly interact with their stakeholders to keep on top of the shifting viewpoints influencing their future and integrate them across their organizations.

Adapt to Investor Pressure

Organizations that wish to stay appealing to investors must prioritize ESG. According to 89 percent of institutional investors across key markets, companies with good ESG performance deserve a premium on their share price. And 90 percent believe that firms that focus ESG efforts offer greater long-term results.

Recognize the data

According to the EY Global Climate Risk Disclosure Barometer, data quality is a major problem for many organizations. Organizations require qualified data experts. They must be prepared to manage both existing and upcoming reporting obligations, as well as have a firm grasp of how data will be perceived by third-party entities. Finance professionals should become increasingly involved in sustainability reporting, leveraging their data collecting, processing, and reporting abilities.

Use the Strategy Extensively

Many organizations still need to spread ESG strategic thinking outside their sustainability staff. Sustainability must be placed at the center of strategic thinking by boards and executives, and a strong relationship must be maintained between the finance function, the sustainability team, and top-level leadership.

By 2030: The Pathway to Net-zero Emissions

A net-zero objective indicates that a firm or entity is promising to decrease emissions as close to zero as feasible and then employing carbon offsets or sequestration technologies to balance out the remaining of their emissions – in other words, trying to become carbon neutral.

Commitments made thus far fall well short of what is required by that route. Over the previous year, the number of nations that have promised to attain net-zero emissions has increased fast, and it currently accounts for around 70% of worldwide CO2 emissions. This is a significant step forward. However, the majority of commitments are not yet supported by near-term policies and initiatives. Furthermore, even if all promises are met, they will still result in about 22 billion tons of CO2 emissions worldwide in 2030.

Source: IEA

ESG Performance: Benefits Throughout the Enterprise

According to the European Green Deal, all member countries will have circular economies with net-zero emissions by 2050. While the European Union (EU) has a head start, the United States has ambitious ambitions to decarbonize the economy and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Companies are already bearing the financial penalties of failing to act on sustainability, as many nations have enacted legislation such as carbon taxes, and the financial and banking industries have included ESG requirements into their financing criteria. The only option for stakeholders to avoid bad financing conditions and exclusion from capital markets is to demonstrate proof of strong sustainability and ESG initiatives.

ESG problems are increasingly being considered by investors as a means of mitigating investment risks. ESG performance ratings and reports demonstrate to investors a company's efforts to reduce risks and produce long-term financial rewards. Furthermore, organizations who have successfully adopted sustainability and ESG initiatives outperform the rest of the world's top companies as shown in the following figure:



Today's ESG strategy does not serve organizations or their stakeholders as effectively as it might because it frequently lacks the level of comparability, adoption, and confidence necessary to make fully informed choices. In addition to addressing these challenges, ESG must advance through innovation, linking ESG reporting with financial reporting and guaranteeing the agile adoption of future "+"-factors.

The opportunities and incentives for businesses that position themselves to fully achieve the promise of integrating "FESG+" are significant, as are the potential advantages for all stakeholders. This is a critical juncture in time, and now is the time to position your company for "FESG+" in terms of strategy, innovation, execution, and transparency.

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