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SSE 10 Years of Impact and Progress Report: Charles Tilley Statement

Posted 2 October, 2019

IIRC Interim CEO, Charles Tilley, attended the Sustainable Stock Exchanges ’10 Years of Impact’ meeting during Climate Week NYC in September 2019.

Since the launch of the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative in 2009, the SSE has worked with partners, including the IIRC, to drive sustainable development and implement capital market activities that support this goal.

Ahead of the meeting, Charles Tilley contributed to the SSE ‘10 Years of Impact and Progress Report‘ to mark and celebrate their impact and progress over this time, saying:

“The International Integrated Reporting Council congratulates the Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative for driving powerful and impactful action to embed sustainable development within capital market decision-making on this, its 10th anniversary.

The pace of change has been truly remarkable, evidenced by the shift in global risks identified each year by the World Economic Forum. The world has transitioned from one dominated by financial and economic risks to one where climate, population and social risks dominate. Ten years ago, those calling for sustainable development to be put at the heart of the way our markets operate and the way we do business were loud and passionate, but also in the minority.

Nowadays, there is a huge shift in understanding the inextricable link between financial stability and sustainable development. It is something we have seen through the companies that have embraced the concept of value creation and embedded the principles of integrated reporting in over 70 countries globally.

However, whilst there has been an awakening to the urgency in tackling these issues – especially through the agreement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Accord – that doesn’t mean these are issues that are simple to tackle, however willing we are.

To be successful, we will need to adopt a fresh approach and a new way of thinking not just within individual businesses – but across entire markets. Stock exchanges will have an important role in achieving this. We will have to shift to an outcomes-based philosophy, based on value creation not just for organisations and their shareholders, but also for broader society.

We will need to embrace emerging mega-trends, such as the fourth industrial revolution, and ensure they do not add to the economic and social polarization apparent in many societies today, but are used to further our understanding of the intangible value all organisations have and how we can use these resources and relationships to create value. For us at the IIRC, in the next ten years we will be working with our partners to ensure the corporate reporting system is supporting effective, robust disclosure. We know that the reporting landscape can be daunting to those organisations wanting to take their first steps towards better reporting, given the number of initiatives in the space. We will work with our partners to provide better clarity, consistency and coherence.

We also know that organisations need guidance and we will be sharing best practice examples of businesses that are embedding integrated thinking within their organisation to ensure sustainable development is at the heart of all of their activities.

With the support of organisations such as SSE, we will also be hardening our asks of stock exchanges to ensure they are using their unique influence to drive the wholesale changes necessary. Over the last ten years, SSE has worked with so many stock exchanges internationally to lay the foundations for this. Many of these stock exchanges, including South Africa, Singapore and Germany have led by example by adopting the principles of integrated reporting themselves. We look forward to the next ten years during which, we are confident there will be many more stock exchanges signposting to and encouraging sustainable development best practice.

At the IIRC, we have learned that the most drastic changes come when organisations are shown the benefits of embracing sustainable development and adopting these principles because the Board and top management believes in their importance, rather than when they are forced into action. We look forward to welcoming ever increasing numbers of these advocates into our coalition – Our goal, after all, is to develop the system so that it is fit for purpose for a 21st century responsible capitalism world.”