BUSINESS: JSE Signs with UN
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The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) has moved a step forward in its already strong support of corporate and investor decision-making which includes environmental, social and corporate governance factors as well as traditional business issues.
The exchange announced it has become a signatory to the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investment (UN PRI), an initiative which aims to help the global financial services industry towards responsible investment. The JSE is one of the first stock exchanges worldwide to sign the agreement.
“For several years, the JSE has worked on ways to prompt businesses and business analysts to increase their focus on environmental, social and governance factors. Signing the UN PRI further demonstrates our commitment. It also highlights our role as a pioneer in the sustainability field globally.” says Nicky Newton-King, Deputy CEO of the JSE.
The JSE has contributed to the cause of responsible investment through developing the Socially Responsible Investment Index (SRI Index), which was launched in 2004 as the first of its kind in an emerging economy. An index whose constituents are companies who attain required levels in an annual review of their policies, practices and reporting, it is becoming a widely accepted gauge for good corporate citizenship for listed entities.
Founded in 2005, the UN PRI is a set of principles developed to guide investment professionals to consider environmental, social and corporate government (ESG) issues in the selection of investment opportunities and to align investors with broader societal objectives. “Responsible investing is coming of age in South Africa as evidenced the burgeoning support and growing numbers of signatories to the UN PRI. Besides benefiting society in general, there is a link between the cognizance of ESG issues and stronger long-term financial performance,” adds Newton-King.
In South Africa, apart from greater adoption of the UN PRI, there are other factors raising awareness of responsible investing. “In South Africa, no business can operate divorced from our past. In this respect, issues of sustainability and social responsibility are entrenched and companies have had to address labour, affirmative action and health related issues with much more urgency and vigour than elsewhere,” comments Newton-King.
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