Led by Arabesque, a coalition including financial institutions and organisations such as the International Finance Corporation has today announced the launch of ‘ESG Book’, a central source for accessible and digital corporate sustainability information.

Available for free for all companies, investors, standard-setters and other stakeholders, the source follows a set of principles based on a mission to create environmental, social and governance (ESG) data as a public good.

According to a statement about the ESG Book, it is a response to a lack of disclosure, limited accessibility and inconsistency of ESG data, which is preventing more capital from being allocated towards low-carbon and sustainable business activities – despite many commitments to responsible investment and achieving net-zero emissions.

The alliance includes Deutsche Bank, the International Finance Corporation, HSBC, UNCTAD, the Global Reporting Initiative, Swiss Re, Glass Lewis, HKEX, Cardano Development, and the Principles for Responsible Investment.

The platform’s announcement comes on the heels of the European Commission tabling proposals for a central portal for corporate data in connection with its sustainable finance agenda, as well as the IFRS Foundation’s decision to create a sustainability standard-setting board.

As outlined by the ESG Book initiators, the principles that the ESG Book intends to follow are:

  • Companies are custodians of their own data – corporates should have autonomy over the disclosure and maintenance of their sustainability data in real-time;
  • Transparency on data usage and interactions brings more meaningful reporting – once directly connected to stakeholders companies should be able to be empowered to report on the most material and valuable issues requested by investors;
  • Accessibility and impartiality – ESG data should be reported by companies in a clear and consistent manner, and be readily accessible for all stakeholders. ESG data platforms should support equal access for all;
  • Framework-neutral – stakeholders should be able to collect and report data based on sustainability questions from multiple frameworks at the same time, and ESG data should be able to respond to a fast-moving market and regulatory environment; and
  • Easing the reporting burden – reported ESG data can be mapped across a range of frameworks simultaneously over time, freeing up company resources for “greater action-driven insights.

“The launch of the ESG Book marks the evolution of corporate sustainability,” said Georg Kell, founding executive director of the United Nations Global Compact and chair of Arabesque.

“It enables more comparable and higher quality ESG data, thereby advancing the mission of making markets more sustainable. Through a technology-driven approach, Arabesque is committed to making ESG data available to all as a public good.”

Daniel Klier, Arabesque’s president, said that through the platform, the partners aimed to “shape the future of ESG data”.

Other organisations involved in the ESG Book initiative are: Bridgewater Associates, Allianz, QUICK, Bank Islam, Goldbeck, Werte Stiftung, WBCSD, Climate Leadership Coalition, Climate Governance Initiative, Climate Policy Initiative, Climate Bonds Initiative, and Global Enabling Sustainability Initiative.

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