香港地球之友推出全港首個ESG專業認證計劃 / Friends of the Earth (HK) to Launch the First ESG Professional Accreditation in Hong Kong

香港地球之友宣佈,將與歐洲金融分析師聯合會(EFFAS)合作,於本港推出首個國際認可的環境、社會與管治(ESG)專業認證計劃。 

本會將成為歐洲金融分析師聯合會(EFFAS)於香港的獨家合作夥伴,並在日後協助EFFAS管理香港以至東南亞地區的CESGA®(環境、社會及管治分析師認證) 課程及考試。

CESGA®(環境、社會及管治分析師認證) 於2014年在歐洲創立,針對有意將環境、社會與管治(ESG)數據分析納入投資考量的基金經理及投資分析師,並提供專業認證。隨著氣候變化及全球暖化議題愈趨普及,愈來愈多不同界別的專業人士重視相關議題,因此市場對ESG領域的專業認證的需求也因而提高。

香港地球之友董事局成員張振宇先生表示:「近年來,全球推動ESG 的步伐加快,這一浪潮不僅影響商界,而各地的監管機構亦對此非常重視,並增設條例規管。以本港市場為例,香港交易所自2016年以來兩度提高對上市公司在ESG報告的披露要求。但到目前為止,市場仍然欠缺能夠滿足法規要求和提升從業人員ESG技能的培訓課程。香港地球之友一直積極尋找及推動ESG領域的專業認證,對於備受認可的CESGA®即將引入本港,我們對此感到雀躍。」

歐洲金融分析師聯合會主席Jesús López Zaballos則指出:「由於時下的投資組合中,可持續性的投資已成為不可或缺的一環,因此為分析師及基金經理提供此領域的優良培訓至為重要。是次合作將有助促進雙方所共同提倡的ESG價值。我們很榮幸得到香港地球之友的支持,共同推廣這個由學術界和市場從業員一起努力創建的ESG培訓計劃。」

CESGA® 專業認證計劃學術總監Alex Bassen補充:「(CESGA®的) 高實用性及嚴謹的學術質素,可為香港金融界和ESG從業員提供專業的ESG培訓。」 

CESGA®包含10個單元,涵蓋ESG各個範疇,包括企業ESG報告、將ESG因素融入營商模式、ESG最新趨勢之個案分析等。迄今為止,該計劃已在歐洲、亞洲、美國和拉丁美洲的主要金融市場中推行,全球逾800位專家獲頒發認證,我們相信這個數字在不久將來將會倍增。

香港地球之友董事局主席吳方笑薇女士 BBS提到:「香港是亞洲首屈一指的金融中心,但是我們在ESG投資方面的步伐卻較為落後。為了維持本港的競爭優勢,並提升綠色金融投資的競爭力,充分利用我們現有穩固的金融基礎是至關重要的。香港有加強ESG方面的專業發展之迫切需要,尤其是在ESG數據分析和投資能力方面。ESG數據真確性和完整性對於減少「漂綠」和維護市場對ESG投資的信心十分重要。」

香港地球之友於2019年正式推出香港綠色金融路線圖。通過向政府、商界和慈善團體推廣環境、社會與管治投資,本會期望能倡導香港為氣候變化做好準備,並共建一個可持續的未來。

更多資料:
CESGA® 環境、社會及管治分析師專業認證計劃:https://effas-academy.com/product/cesga-online-course-certification/
香港地球之友綠色金融顧問:https://www.foe.org.hk/greenfinanceblog/
香港地球之友施政報告公眾諮詢建議書(綠色金融):https://bit.ly/3fxl78p


Friends of the Earth (HK) is proud to announce its joint partnership with The European Federation of Financial Analysts Societies (EFFAS) to introduce an internationally recognized Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) professional accreditation programme to Hong Kong. 

Friends of the Earth (HK) has been appointed as EFFAS’ Value Added Partner to help administer the EFFAS Certified ESG Analyst (CESGA®) examination and certification programme in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia.

CESGA® is a pioneering initiative in the field of ESG first launched in Europe in 2014. It is especially targeted at financial analysts and portfolio managers who want to integrate ESG data into their capital investment processes; but also, in general, at all professionals, many of whom have demonstrated an increasing commitment to sustainability issues. 

“ESG causes have gained a lot of momentum in recent years. This has not only impacted the commercial sector, but also transformed into a global movement that has caught the attention of regulators. Taking the Hong Kong market as an example, The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited has tightened its ESG reporting obligations for listed companies for the second time since 2016. However, up till now, there has been hardly any training to bridge the skill gap between the regulatory requirements and the ESG practitioners. Therefore, Friends of the Earth (HK) has been actively pushing for a professional accreditation in the field. We are delighted to see that it is finally in place,” explained Anthony Cheung, Board Governor of Friends of the Earth (HK).

Jesús López Zaballos, President of EFFAS, pointed out, “In an environment in which sustainable decisions are gaining weight in portfolios, the importance of good training in this area for analysts and portfolio managers grows.” He went on to add, “This cooperation will help promote the ESG values shared by both associations. It is an honour that our training programme on the ESG issues, which is the result of an extraordinary contribution from academics and market practitioners, has been chosen for promotion by Friends of Earth in Hong Kong’’.

Alex Bassen, Academic Director of the CESGA® programme, added, “This is a great opportunity for the financial community and ESG practitioners in Hong Kong to get direct access to this top-tier ESG training programme with its practical focus and academic rigor.” 

Comprising 10 modules, CESGA® covers a wide range of ESG aspects including corporate ESG reporting, integration of ESG factors into business models, case analysis on the latest ESG trends, etc. To date, the programme has been running in major financial markets in Europe, Asia, the U.S. and Latin America. More than 800 specialists worldwide have already been accredited with this certificate and we expect this number to double in the near future.

“Hong Kong is Asia’s leading financial hub. However, when it comes to ESG investing, we are a late comer. To maintain our competitive edge, it is crucial for us to make good use of our sound economic fundamentals to gain a competitive edge in green finance. Hong Kong needs urgently to enhance its ESG professional development, especially with regards to ESG data analysis and assessment capability.  Data integrity and accountability are vital for debunking ‘green washing’ and for upholding the market confidence in ESG investing” explained Mrs. Mei Ng, Chairperson of Friends of the Earth (HK).

Friends of the Earth (HK) launched its Green Finance Advocacy Roadmap in 2019. Through lobbying Hong Kong’s policy makers and advocating ESG investing to the business and charity sectors, Friends of the Earth (HK) hopes to make Hong Kong climate ready for a resilient and sustainable future.  

For further information:
CESGA® programme: https://effas-academy.com/product/cesga-online-course-certification/
Green Finance blog of FoE (HK): https://www.foe.org.hk/greenfinanceblog/
Green Finance Policy Submission of FoE (HK): https://bit.ly/3fxl78p

Seizing the opportunity

Green Finance advisor of Friends of the Earth (HK)

Despite the coronavirus wrecking social and economic havoc in countries around the world, one silver lining emerged, that is Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) funds have received $125 billions of net inflows from all mutual fund investors globally, in contrast to a net outflow $316 billion for all other equity funds (active and passive) since January 2019.

Figure 1: ESG fund flows versus non-ESG fund flows
(Source: EPFR, Goldman Sachs Global International Research)

More specifically, inflows into ESG funds have in fact surpassed flows into Tech funds over the past year.

Figure 2: ESG vs. Tech fund flows
(Source: EPFR, Goldman Sachs Global International Research)

Of the regions with the highest proportion of AUM in dedicated ESG funds, Europe scores the best with 7%, followed by North America with 2% and Japan with 1%. (Bell, S., Oppenheimer, P., Peytavin, L., Jaisson, G., 2020).

Figure 3: ESG funds as percentage of each region’s dedicated regional funds
(Source: EPFR, Goldman Sachs Global International Research)

Why then is Europe outperforming the rest of the world in the relative allocation to ESG within its fund flows? In fact, European companies on average score higher than much of the rest of the world in its ESG metrics, scoring highest in E&S score, and second only to Australia and New Zealand in Governance metrics. (Bell, S., Oppenheimer, P., Peytavin, L., Jaisson, G., 2020).

Figure 4: ESG ranking of global companies
(Source: EPFR, Goldman Sachs Global International Research)

Based on these findings, we can suggest that (i) there is strong global investment interest in ESG investments and this should not only be considered a cyclical shift, but rather a secular shift with capital holders gradually transitioning to a generation who are more aware of the impacts of socially responsible investing and demands more than just financial return from their investments. (ii) European companies should serve as a positive example and roadmap to the rest of the world that even though ESG compliance may come at a cost, this cost is somewhat mitigated by an increase in demand for the companies’ equity or debt securities due to increased fund inflows into ESG funds, and as a result should reduce the cost of capital for those companies with a good score in ESG rankings, thus disproving the notion that ESG has no financial value and not worthy of expending resources in improving a companies’ ESG rankings.

Europe’s success is an effort borne out of collaboration between regulators and private enterprises, as well as a public supportive of the benefits of improved ESG compliance. For us in Hong Kong, even though we pride ourselves with one of the freest economy in the world with minimal regulation, a position we have been able to maintain as a result of riding on the economic growth of the opening up of China over the past 40 years, our government ought to think more about implementing ESG requirements for companies listed in Hong Kong to keep up with the times. Especially at a time when Hong Kong can no longer rely on being the freest economy in the world to remain competitive, and must find its own niche within the Greater Bay Area to compete, introducing ESG regulations have the potential to set Hong Kong as the leader of socially responsible investing in China, much as such government led efforts of placed Europe at the global forefront in this area. Moreover, with many Chinese companies listed overseas set to repatriate listing to Hong Kong due to the geopolitical tension between US and China, Hong Kong has a unique opportunity to set the ESG standard for many national champions of industry through reporting and listing requirements.

In summary, Hong Kong has a rare opportunity in becoming a leader in setting ESG standards and should make implementing ESG listing and reporting requirements in collaboration with private enterprises a top priority, to ensure it carves out a niche for itself and allow it to stay competitive within the national economic system.

Reference

Bell, S., Oppenheimer, P., Peytavin, L., Jaisson, G., 2020. Europe outperforming US: Can it last?, Goldman Sachs Global International Research

Bell, S., Oppenheimer, P., Peytavin, L., Jaisson, G., 2020. The ESG trend is Global…and alpha as much as beta, Goldman Sachs Global International Research


Visit www.foe.org.hk for more news about Friends of the Earth (HK)!

Asia Sustainable Finance Webinars: Late-July 2020

  1. Webinar: ESG Disclosure Practice and Dialogue
    Organised by: CFA Institute
    Date: 28th July 3:30 – 5pm HKT

    The growing recognition of the impact that material ESG factors have on companies’ long-term prospects has resulted in the strong demand for quality ESG reporting from investors, stock exchanges and regulators.

    When it comes to ESG reporting we often deal with a list of acronyms, with each representing a different standard or framework. To provide better clarity and consistency for both corporates and investors, there are efforts underway to harmonize these frameworks and standards, while Global standard setter GRI has been producing documents to show linkages between the GRI standards to that of the exchanges.

    Do companies face any challenges in complying with these reporting standards? What strategic benefits do they see in producing insightful and top-quality reports? Are investors able to articulate the ESG information disclosed?

  2. Webinar: PRI Asset Owner Series: The Asset Owner of the 21st Century
    Organised by: PRI
    Date & Time: 29th July 10pm HKT

    In this inaugural episode of the PRI Asset Owner series, Fiona Reynolds, CEO of the PRI and Roger Urwin, Global Head of Investment Content at Willis Towers Watson, will discuss the shifts that Asset Owners are undergoing, many of which have been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Exploring the changing role of governance and how culture ties in, Roger and Fiona will unpick the characteristics of a responsible asset owner. Join us in discussing how asset owners should be preparing for the next phase of responsible investing.

  3. Green Buildings Webinar: Accessing a $18 Trillion Investment Opportunity
    Co-hosted by: the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Hong Kong Green Finance Association (HKGFA)
    Date & Time: 29th July, from 10:00 to 11.30 HKT

    The workshop will focus on steps that developers, investors, building owners, and policy makers can take to access international green finance for green buildings, including through new instruments such as green bonds, green loans, and green mortgages. The webinar will feature recommendations from IFC’s report, Green Buildings – A Finance and Policy Blueprint for Emerging Markets, on how to launch a green real estate portfolio or incentives for green buildings.

Visit www.foe.org.hk for more news about Friends of the Earth (HK)!

我不要地球變金星

香港地球之友綠色金融顧問

英國著名物理學家史蒂芬·霍金除了他的宇宙觀聞名於世,生前亦留下不少警醒語錄,告誡人類氣候變化會是導致人類滅亡的危機。他生前在媒體訪問中形容,依照人類目前排放溫室氣體的趨勢,地球的溫度將不斷上升,他朝或將成為另一個不能夠居住的金星。

在太陽系中,金星是第二最接近太陽的行星,據美國太空總署研究,40億年前的金星很像地球,在大約20億年間,金星有海洋,溫度適合生物居住,但因溫室效應令氣候改變,把它變成了一個熾熱的行星,而令一切生物化為灰燼。因此,若地球大氣中的溫室氣體達到極限水平,地球或會發生類似情形,而霍金預言人類只剩98年(2018年往後的100年)便要移民到其他外星星體。

面對實行變革的時間有限,「環保愛地球」的概念已經不合時宜,更重要是應將氣候變化視之為一種「風險」,而不是可做可不做的「社會責任」。

衣食住行是人類生存的基本需要,而財富則是決定質量的重要一環,因此要應對氣候變化必須從這五方面著手。

由於衣食住行與民生息息相關,近年已有不少改善方案,例如坊間有採用環保物料的「衣」服及時裝品牌,而香港地球之友亦自2001年起推行舊「衣」回收;坊間亦冒起用純植物取代肉類的未來「食」物,以減少進食肉類產生的碳排放;在策劃大廈樓宇時將大自然的資源(天然光線及良好通風等)納入建築設計的考量當中,塑造綠色「住」所;「行」則有電動車和生物柴油等。

可惜與財富掛勾的金融市場在過去數年卻裹足不前,雖然被視為國際金融中心的香港早在2016年已有綠色債券發行,但發行債券的企業在取得資金後卻鮮有消息,在綠色項目的投資上亦從未交待進程,仿如無人監管,令升斗市民不禁誤以為綠色金融又是政府的「形象工程」。

近月,金管局及證監會宣布成立綠色及可持續金融跨機構督導小組,推動香港可持續金融的發展,而金管局亦在6月發布《綠色及可持續銀行業白皮書》,並計劃2021年第一季進行首個氣候變化壓力測試,或先從銀行業界著手,以減低氣候變化對銀行業務的潛在風險,長遠計劃拓展至其他行業。

但歸根究底,綠色金融不只是與業界相關,而市民應是更重要的持分者。在欠缺解釋及推廣的前提下,市民根本上認為綠色金融事不關己,更遑論要推動香港成為綠色金融中心,試問又如何能移風易俗呢?

Event reminder for this week: 2019-2020 Green Finance Seminar Series – Session 4: Promoting Innovative Green Financing for Belt & Road Initiative
Organised by: HKQAA
Date & Time: 17th July 2:30 – 5pm
Location: Theatre R1&R2, United Conference Centre, 10/F., United Centre, 95 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong

*Felix Lam, Green Finance Advisor of Friends of the Earth (HK) will share his latest insights on this topic.

The Hong Kong government has prioritised green finance as a key strategy, aiming to capitalise on the city’s financial strength to foster sustainable businesses.

HKQAA is engaging business leaders and environmental experts to shed light on the development of green finance in worldwide and the potential business opportunities brought by green finance.

Check out the posters of the event: English / Chinese
For more information, please visit the website: https://www.hkgreenfinance.org/event/seminar-of-2019-2020-green-finance-seminar-series-session-4-promoting-innovative-green-financing-for-belt-road-initiative/

Webinar events for this week:

  1. Webinar: Asia Infrastructure Finance Leadership Series – Winds of change, Rays of Hope
    Organised by: The Asset
    Date & Time: 15th July 5 – 6pm

    The pandemic is transforming the world’s energy usage. While global demand for coal is plummeting, the transition to renewable energy is accelerating. In Asia, a slew of clean energy projects, particularly solar and wind power, have come to the market, introducing new sponsors and new sources of financing – including in the local currency. The adoption of disruptive technologies could also play a key role in this space.

  2. Webinar: COVID-19 Crisis – A Test for EM Sovereign Bond Investors
    Organised by: PRI
    Date & Time: 15th July 9pm HKT

    The COVID-19 crisis is hitting emerging economies more than developed countries. Beyond the immediate health and economic emergency, the pandemic will take a toll on countries that are heavily reliant on commodity exports, global trade, tourism and external financing. This webinar will look at the consequences for emerging market credit risk, the opportunities for a ‘greener, smarter and fairer’ recovery – as proposed by the IMF – and what role sovereign bondholders can play.

    With speakers from Aberdeen Standard Investments, S&P Global Ratings, PRI and IMF.

  3. Webinar: Building a Sustainable Financial Systems in Emerging Markets
    Organised by: PRI, World Bank and Chronos Sustainability
    Date & Time: 15th July 9pm HKT

    The World Bank, Principles for Responsible Investment and Chronos Sustainability Ltd will host a discussion based on experiences of working with regulators, policymakers and institutional investors in emerging markets on the design and implementation of financial policy frameworks that align capital markets with sustainable growth to deliver net-zero real economies by 2050.

    Speakers will take examples from Colombia, Thailand and China to illustrate the case for, and practicalities in building a sustainable financial system.

  4. Webinar: UNDP SDG Impact Standards Workshop – SDG Bonds & PE Funds
    Organised by: UNDP SDG Impact, HKGFA and SFI
    Date & Time: 16th July 9 – 10:30am HKT

    Following on from our January event with UNDP SDG Impact Standards Workshop, the first draft of the Standards is out for public consultation. This second workshop will discuss the recently released SDG Impact Standards for SDG Bonds and the latest changes to the SDG Impact Standards for Private Equity Funds.

  5. Webinar: Climate Investment and Finance: Investors and Corporates’ Climate Commitments
    Organised by: PRI & CIFA
    Date & Time: 16th July 3 – 4:30pm HKT

    In partnership with the China Climate International Finance Association CIFA, PRI is delighted to invite you to webinar on target setting and climate change. The past 12 months have seen a notable increase in the number of countries, companies and investors setting net zero emission reduction targets. This bilingual webinar will look at the commercial drivers for this, how the targets are being implemented and holding up in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Visit www.foe.org.hk for more news about Friends of the Earth (HK)!

Continuous support from the authority to pave the way for ESG developments

Green Finance Advisor of Friends of the Earth (HK)

Despite the previous discussion over the quality of ESG disclosures of corporate which might have unveiled the inadequacy in monitoring and auditing in Hong Kong, the recent regulatory developments on the regulatory front are expected to propel the overall ESG awareness in the financial markets.

Further to the launch of STAGE by the HKEX mentioned in the previous post, starting from 1 July, the amendments to the Listing Rules and the ESG Guide related to the ESG Disclosure Review proposed by the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (SEHK) would take effect, and companies are now required to publish their ESG report within five months after the end of the financial years.

Under the new reporting regime, certain ESG disclosures would become compulsory, with other disclosures elevated from “recommended” to being required on a “comply or explain” basis, in particular to the KPI disclosures on the social aspects. It implies that if a company decides not to disclose a KPI on the social aspect as it does not impact business operations, the company has to provide further explanation. This revision reflects that the SEHK expects corporates to develop an outright focus on each of the aspects of ESG, no matter whether it is significant to their operations.

The revamp also comes along with an enhanced focus on the environmental aspect. Companies are now required to report policies related to the identification and mitigation solutions of critical climate issues affecting the business. Meanwhile, as the disclosure of environmental targets, such as water efficiency targets and emissions target, are covered as part of the environmental KPIs, companies also need to report their targets and the plans to achieve them.

Last but not least, the authority advocates the board’s oversight of ESG issues in the amendments. As part of the disclosure, companies need to highlight the board’s oversight of ESG management strategy and approach, including the establishment of a dedicated workgroup looking after ESG issues, its scope of duties and allocation of resources.

Although Hong Kong is generally regarded as a laggard in terms of ESG developments, the authority’s efforts to promote ESG awareness and improve the governance is well-received. We shall wish the efforts will pay off in the near future and the industry can be making headway!