SFC and ICMA collaboration paves the way for global ESG ratings standards


The HK SFC is sponsoring the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) to form a dedicated working group on ESG.

This initiative aims to create a universally consistent and voluntary code of conduct for ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) ratings and data product providers. ICMA, under this collaboration, will act as the Secretariat for the Hong Kong ESG Ratings and data product providers Voluntary Code of Conduct Working Group (VCWG).

The overarching purpose of this working group is to design and champion a code of conduct that is globally consistent, interoperable, and proportionate for ESG ratings and data product providers operating in Hong Kong. The forthcoming code will draw inspiration from the recommendations detailed in the International Organization of Securities Commission’s report on ESG Ratings and Data Product Providers.

In terms of the timeline, the VCWG is set to host its inaugural meeting in November 2023. Following this, they aim to release a draft version of the Voluntary Code of Conduct (VCoC) for public consultation roughly three months post their initial meet-up.

The working group, which will be led by the ICMA, highlights the importance of creating a harmonised set of guidelines that would streamline ESG ratings and data product offerings. By doing so, they aim to fortify the integrity and reliability of ESG products and services in the Hong Kong region. This partnership between HK SFC and ICMA is a testament to Hong Kong’s commitment to elevate its standards in the sustainable finance arena.

ICMA Deputy CEO and Head of Sustainable Finance Nicholas Pfaff said, “We look forward to helping coordinate this important working group sponsored by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission. We will contribute our considerable experience in bringing about industry-led standards and our global expertise in sustainable finance.”

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