GLOBAL - A coalition of institutional investors is to call on United Nations member states to develop a global policy framework requiring listed companies to integrate sustainability information within their annual report and accounts.
Speaking on behalf of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Coalition, Aviva Investors London chief executive Paul Abberley will announce the call to action at today's United Nations Private Sector Forum on Sustainable Energy for All, which is held in conjunction with the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly.
Abberley will ask UN member states to adopt a binding international commitment to develop a national policy, which requires the disclosure of sustainability information. The coalition is calling on member states to adopt the global policy framework at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, the 2012 Earth Summit, which is taking place in Rio de Janeiro next June.
It believes the international policy framework should adhere to the two overriding key principles of transparency and accountability. It said UN member states should develop national regulations which mandate the integration of material sustainability issues in the Annual Report & Accounts and provide effective mechanisms for investors to hold companies to account on the quality of their disclosures, including for instance through an advisory vote at the AGM.
The coalition represents financial institutions, professional bodies, NGOs and investors with $1.6trn in assets under management. Members include the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, CA Cheuvreux, Generation Investment, Global Reporting Initiative and Hermes.
Aviva plc, Aviva Investors' parent company, was the first financial services organisation to put their sustainability report within the Annual Report and Accounts to an advisory shareholder vote.
"Progressive companies around the world have come to understand that long term-value is enhanced by embedding long-term sustainability into their business strategy and by fully disclosing their progress to investors," Abberley said.
"As a long-term investor we also recognise the positive impact that embedding long-term sustainability into a business strategy can have on shareholder value."
Abberley added by considering the sustainability of their companies, corporate boards could not only enhance long-term profitability and returns to investors, but also improve the quality of stock markets and increase macro financial stability.
"This is why we are calling on the United Nations member states to commit to develop policy on corporate sustainability reporting," he said. "Markets are driven by information. If the information they receive is short term and thin then these characteristics will define our markets."
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