Press Releases

IFC, U.N. Team Up to Strengthen ESG Disclosure by Listed Companies across Emerging Markets

In Washington, D.C.:
Irina Likhachova
Phone: (202) 473-1813

Geneva, Switzerland, October 23, 2018IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has partnered with the UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative to raise environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards across emerging capital markets.

The new partnership, announced today at the World Investment Forum in Geneva, seeks to strengthen ESG disclosure and reporting requirements for listed companies across emerging markets. The goal is to help build investor trust, attract capital, and grow strong local capital markets.

Investors say a lack of consistent and easily accessible information on companies’ ESG performance is an impediment to increasing the allocation of capital to emerging markets. Adhering to high standards of disclosure and transparency can mitigate some of the perceived risks of investing in emerging and frontier markets revolving around weaker corporate governance and heightened social and environmental risks.  

Market regulators and stock exchanges are uniquely positioned to advance greater transparency and disclosure of material information that enables investors to make better decisions. They can do so by setting best-practice for ESG disclosure by listed companies. This can help build a strong foundation for well-functioning markets, drive improvements in business practices, and channel more capital towards sustainable companies.  

“Well-functioning markets require investor trust,” said Ethiopis Tafara, IFC’s Vice President for Legal, Compliance Risk and Sustainability & General Counsel. “Through our partnership with the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative, we seek to build this trust in emerging markets through greater transparency and reporting. Ultimately, this will help responsible companies attract investors and reduce the cost of capital.”

James Zhan, chair of the Sustainable Stock Exchange Initiative’s governing board, said: "Stock exchanges and securities-market regulators are increasingly active in promoting sustainable finance. But many exchanges and regulators—especially in smaller developing countries—can benefit from technical assistance to implement sustainable finance mechanisms. We are pleased today to announce the strengthening of our ties with IFC, with the aim of improving our assistance to member states, so that all markets can reap the rewards of sustainable finance."

IFC and the Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative will focus on helping local stock exchanges to produce ESG disclosure rules that meet specific local needs. This work will draw on IFC’s recently released Disclosure and Transparency Toolkit for companies, investors, capital market officials and regulators. Since the toolkit’s release in January 2018, it has been used to develop market and regulatory guidance in Kazakhstan, Kenya, Nigeria, Peru, Georgia and the Philippines.

About IFC
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in the toughest areas of the world. In fiscal year 2018, we delivered more than $23 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit

About the UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative

UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Initiative, launched in 2009 by the UN Secretary General, is a UN Partnership Programme of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the UN Global Compact, the UN Environment Program Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). The SSE convenes stock exchanges who join by signing a voluntary public commitment and it currently has 78 Partner Exchanges worldwide. It provides Model Guidance on ESG disclosure for stock exchanges to help with the preparation of ESG reporting guidelines. The SSE has three inter-related pillars of activity: research, consensus building and technical assistance.

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