Harmonizing ESG endeavors: 2023 Boao Forum on China's path forward
Gan Tian
Boao Forum for Asia 2023 Annual Conference sub-forum
Boao Forum for Asia 2023 Annual Conference sub-forum "Measuring Sustainability in the ESG Era" on March 29, 2023 in Hainan Qionghai. /Boao Forum for Asia

Boao Forum for Asia 2023 Annual Conference sub-forum "Measuring Sustainability in the ESG Era" on March 29, 2023 in Hainan Qionghai. /Boao Forum for Asia

As environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors continue to reshape the future of nations and businesses, the 2023 Boao Forum for Asia gathered leading experts to address pressing ESG questions in China on Wednesday. The forum emphasized the urgency for global collaboration and the immense growth potential within the ESG landscape, focusing on disclosure requirements, performance measurement, and corporate strategy integration.

In China, efforts are underway to establish a unified national ESG standard. Government departments are proactively working on this. The China Securities Regulatory Commission and the country's three main stock exchanges urge listed firms to disclose ESG information, said Yi Xuedong, director of the Research Center affiliated with the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) of the State Council. He added that the ESG disclosure coverage rate for state-owned listed companies is around 60 percent, with plans to achieve full coverage this year.

Notably, SASAC has been working closely with South Korea's SK Group in developing a social value measurement system since 2019, exemplifying the potential for international and public-private partnerships in developing ESG strategies.

Building on these points, Hans-Paul Bürkner, global chair emeritus of Boston Consulting Group, underscored the need for companies to prioritize ESG to ensure transparency and responsibility. He emphasized setting clear goals, identifying actionable steps and adhering to government regulations and guidelines while calling for a centralized dialogue to address global ESG challenges.

Putting theory into practice, Dr. Suk Kwon Na, president of the Center for Social Value Enhancement Studies, SK Group, shared South Korea's ESG implementation experience, stressing the importance of understanding disclosure requirements, complying with legal regulations, and building necessary capabilities. He also discussed various ESG measurement methods, highlighting their differences and integrated significance in evaluating social value. Moving forward, he advocated for ongoing exchange and collaboration, respecting different regional characteristics and standards rather than implementing a universally uniform standard.

Expanding on these perspectives, Allan Xie, national managing partner of Sustainability & Climate at Deloitte China, provided his analysis on the urgent need and demand for standardization of ESG disclosure requirements, and their significance for both investors and regulators. He posited that ESG principles can catalyze transformation, helping companies navigate uncertainty and uncover new growth opportunities.

On the business side, Liu Jiaqiang, board director and general manager of China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Group (CECEP), shared practical solutions on integrating ESG principles into business operations, such as energy-saving and emission-reduction measures, green low-carbon materials, and technological innovation. 

The forum concluded that ESG is a global effort, and no country can achieve sustainable development alone. By fostering international cooperation, businesses and nations can drive transformation and create lasting value for society without compromising investor interests. This collaborative spirit is vital in overcoming ESG challenges and seizing opportunities, ultimately leading to a brighter future for all.

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