The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the effect on the climate and biodiversity of our businesses and lifestyles. Systemic disparities have significant implications for the sustainability of the infrastructure. PwC Malaysia’s most recent publication, ‘Rethinking ESG in a Post-COVID-19 Sense,’ explores what sustainability means to corporate environmental, social and governance considerations (ESG)1.
PwC’s SDG Challenge 2020 found that while 73% of Malaysian firms included Sustainable Development Goals2 (SDGs) in their surveys, only 20% had SDGs in their reported business strategy. As the SDGs outline the impact areas for ESG considerations, it is clear that for businesses, ESG has yet to become a central focus.
Dato’s Mohammad Faiz Azmi, Executive Chairman of PwC Malaysia, said “The pandemic was a wake-up call for more sustainable practises. Businesses concentrate on their mission and how they assess their effect – does this emphasis on profit alone or do social and environmental factors matter? It is an opportunity for businesses to create trust with consumers by highlighting their commitment to resolving ESG problems before it’s too late. A combined effort by corporations, governments and the public is required to enhance environmental and social practises. We are pleased that the determination of the Malaysian Government to accelerate the sustainability agenda is expressed in the recent 2021 budget.”
The post-COVID-19 Climate ‘Rethinking ESG’ publication discusses a range of factors that drive the sustainability challenge and how companies should be prepared to meet the sustainability challenges ahead.
Here are the 5 key catalysts driving the growth of ESG:
Environmental and social factors are having a more significant influence over a company’s future performance and valuation. Returns on socially responsible investment indices are outperforming their conventional index counterparts.
Global investors are calling for mandatory inclusion of climate risk disclosures in financial accounts for use by companies, banks, and investors in providing information to stakeholders. Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and Securities Commission Malaysia are also pushing for the adoption of reporting standards as recommended by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) among local financial institutions.
There has been an increasing need to address scrutiny and adverse public reaction over environmental and social concerns in several sectors, especially when they are subject to more stringent foreign regulations.
Incentives to promote responsible behaviour can propel companies to be sustainable. Budget 2021 introduced Malaysia’s first sustainable bond, as well as the extension of the successful Green Technology Financing Scheme (GTFS) to encourage the private sector to participate in green technology.
PwC’s Global Market Insights Survey 2020 research showed a strong sense of sustainability and civic duty. 52% In Southeast Asia, our respondents say they want companies to be responsible for their environmental effects. 52% even say they’d stop using plastic wherever possible.
Studies have shown that investors turn to public information and third party research when they assess companies’ ESG practices. Companies need to ensure that material ESG risks, opportunities, and strategic decisions are consistently and transparently disclosed to all stakeholders. “The time is now for you to seize the opportunity to build trust with investors and the communities you operate in, and future proof your business via sustainability,” said PwC Malaysia.