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IFC Supports Sustainable Business with Launch of Pan Arab ESG Index


In Cairo:
Name: Riham Mustafa
Phone: +202 2461 4230
E-mail:
rmustafa@ifc.org

Dubai, UAE, February 1, 2011—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is supporting the improved environmental sustainability, social standards, and corporate governance (ESG) performance of businesses in the Middle East and North Africa with today’s launch of the S&P/Hawkamah Pan Arab ESG Index.

With investors looking increasingly to emerging markets for returns, expectations about corporate governance and disclosure standards are rising. In response, IFC, together with the Hawkamah Institute for Corporate Governance, indices and ratings provider Standard & Poor’s, and Credit Rating and Information Services of India Ltd. (CRISIL), developed an index of some 388 companies from 11 countries in the Middle East and North Africa whose environmental, social and governance reporting puts them among the top performers compared to their market peers.  

Speaking on the significance of the index, Dr. Nasser Saidi, Executive Director of Hawkamah said: “The launch of the Index is a ground-breaking development for the MENA region. In response to changing economic conditions and to the practices that played a role in sparking the global financial crisis, investors are increasingly focusing on long-term risks in their investments, and ESG factors play a significant role in making those assessments. The Index serves the dual purpose of offering a tool for investors for identifying the regional companies that perform well on the ESG parameters, while providing an incentive to MENA companies to pursue sustainable business practices through improved environmental and socially responsible operations, as well as enhanced corporate governance systems. Hawkamah stands ready to work with the region’s stock markets and companies to improve the region’s ESG reporting practices. I would also like to thank IFC, our long-term partner in promoting good corporate governance, for their support, without which the Index would not have seen the light.”

“For the first time, the ESG performance of companies in the Middle East and North Africa region has been extensively researched, quantified and translated into a series of scores that will be used as the basis for an index that will help raise awareness of a company’s impact on people, planet and profit,” said Alka Banerjee, Vice President of S&P Indices.

 “There is no doubt the S&P/Hawkamah Pan Arab ESG Index will be an important tool for investors in the Middle East and North Africa to determine which companies have sustainable futures, and will prove an incentive for businesses to improve their environmental, social and governance practices.” said Dimitris Tsitsiragos, IFC Director Middle East, North Africa and Southern Europe.

By creating an index that tracks and measures corporate performance against environmental ESG criteria, IFC and its partners will enable capital flows to sustainable companies in the region. As a highly visible product, the ESG Index will encourage competition among companies to improve their performance.  

A recently completed IFC study, Sustainable Investment in the Middle East and North Africa, has found significant opportunities for improved ESG reporting by listed entities to increase flow of investor funds to the region.  There has been significant progress made on corporate governance standards however increased transparency of environmental and social standards lags behind.

About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in developing countries. We create opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We do so by providing financing to help businesses employ more people and supply essential services, by mobilizing capital from others, and by delivering advisory services to ensure sustainable development. In a time of global economic uncertainty, our new investments climbed to a record $18 billion in fiscal 2010. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.