GRI Standards to Usher in a New Wave of Sustainability Reporting in the Region

September 19, 2017


The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) held a regional launch of the new GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards in Abu Dhabi on the 19th of September 2017. Attended by companies, government entities and NGO’s from across the region, the launch event was a call to action for organisations to start disclosing their sustainability performance.

The event was hosted by Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, Masdar, sponsored by Union National Bank and was organized in partnership with regional advisory firm Sustainability Excellence.

During the event, organisations that attended gained an in-depth understanding of the importance of sustainability reporting and how to use the new standards. GRI also announced that it received sponsorship from Zamzam Society for Charitable and Voluntary Health Services and from the Saad and Abdul Aziz Al-Mousa Endowment to translate the new standards into Arabic in 2018.

Attending the event from the GRI and presenting the new GRI Standards was Juliette Gaussem, Stakeholder Relations Manager for the region. She said: “The GRI Standards Launch event in Abu Dhabi was a great opportunity to connect experienced and first-time reporters, as well as pioneers of the new standards, in a way that will increase the number of companies disclosing their sustainability performance across the region.”

Dr. Nawal Al Hosany, Executive Director of Sustainability and Brand at Masdar spoke at the event, saying: “Since its inception Masdar has led the adoption of sustainability best practice in the region. Our approach to sustainability reporting in accordance with the GRI framework, embracing the principles of economic, social as well as environmental sustainability, is evidence of such leadership, with sustainability reporting today a key pillar of our stakeholder engagement.

“It is also fully aligned with the UAE’s national strategy to encourage the private sector to demonstrate greater accountability, transparency and a culture of community responsibility through the mandatory adoption of CSR initiatives. I’m confident that the flexibility and responsiveness of the new GRI Standards will help many organisations in the region achieve a higher standard of sustainability reporting.”

As one of the GRI Standards Pioneers, Union National Bank, launched their 2016 sustainability report at the event. Keen to share their experience as one of the first companies in the region to use the new GRI Standards, Mr Ali Khaled Alhashimi, Senior Vice President at Union National Bank, said: “Over the past few years, the practice of corporate sustainability disclosure has increased dramatically, as has stakeholder demands for sustainability data. The GRI Standards have provided detailed guidance and metrics at an international level that have improved our ability to prepare sustainability reports and disclosures that are meaningful to stakeholders.”

After presenting the main regional trends in sustainability reporting, Darin Rovere, Founder and CEO of Sustainability Excellence, moderated a panel discussion focused on how the GRI Standards could help inspire a new wave of sustainability reporting. He said: “Companies are experiencing more and more requests for sustainability information from rating agencies, investors, regulators, clients and even the public. They are also increasingly expected, along with government entities and civil society, to align with national visions. Digital reporting using the GRI Standards is a great way to better satisfy these requirements. We anticipate leadership companies and organisations will rapidly adopt this approach.”

The event concluded with three parallel workshops moderated by the GRI’s Certified Training Partners for the region. These sessions focused on examples of best practice in GRI reporting in addition to providing a step-by-step guide on how to transition to the new GRI Standards. Attendees were also provided with insight on how to deliver award winning reports.

The Global Reporting Initiative

GRI is an international independent organization that has pioneered corporate sustainability reporting since 1997. www.GlobalReporting.org

Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar)

Masdar is a commercially driven renewable energy company based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and is a subsidiary of the Mubadala Development Company. www.masdar.ae

Union National Bank

Established as a Public Joint Stock Company in 1982, we are one of the leading domestic banks in the United Arab Emirates and are headquartered in Abu Dhabi. www.unb.com

Sustainability Excellence

Sustainability Excellence is a recognized leader in sustainability advisory services, sustainability reporting, and ESG assessment services in the Arab region. www.sustainabilityexcellence.com


GRI to Hold Regional Launch of New Global Sustainability Reporting Standards

September 10, 2017


The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), an international independent organization that has pioneered corporate sustainability reporting since 1997, will hold the regional launch of the new GRI Standards in Abu Dhabi on 19th September 2017. The launch event is being hosted by Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, Masdar, is sponsored by Union National Bank and has been organized in partnership with Sustainability Excellence.

The new GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards (GRI Standards) are the latest evolution of GRI’s reporting disclosures, which have been developed through more than 15 years of a robust multi-stakeholder process. As the world’s first global standard for sustainability reporting, they provide companies, NGOs and government entities with a common language for disclosing non-financial information.

The launch of the GRI Standards is expected to drive a wave of new sustainability reporting in the region, enabling companies to be more transparent about their impacts on the economy, the environment and society. The GRI Standards are also designed to help organizations make more sustainable decisions and contribute to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

During the launch event, attendees will hear directly from representatives from GRI, who will speak about how any organization can immediately begin using the GRI Standards to disclose critical sustainability information to any of their stakeholders, as well as the timeline for the translation of the GRI Standards into Arabic.

Commenting on the new standards, Chief Executive of the GRI Tim Mohin said: “The new GRI Standards establish a common language that any organization can use to communicate their sustainability impacts. By providing a consistent yet flexible reporting framework for companies, the GRI Standards create a virtuous cycle that drives results – ultimately serving the goal of sustainable development.”

Masdar is hosting and will officially open the event. Its CEO, Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi said: “We are delighted to be hosting the GRI for what is a vital global milestone in the evolution of sustainability reporting. Masdar has been using the GRI framework since 2013 in order to provide a transparent, internationally recognized benchmark from which to continually measure our progress. This important event will encourage more companies across the region to do the same.”

Union National Bank is sponsoring the event and is also one of the GRI Standard Pioneers. Their CEO Mohammad Nasr Abdeen said: “Sustainability reporting using the new GRI Standards is a great way for any company to better understand and improve its combined social, environmental and economic impact. We look forward to sharing our experience of using the new standards.”

The event has been organized in partnership with Sustainability Excellence, whose CEO Darin Rovere said: “The first sustainability report in the region to use the GRI reporting guidelines was released in 2007. Now, 10 years later, more than 100 companies have used the GRI to regularly report their sustainability performance. The new GRI Standards will contribute to accelerating growth in reporting over the coming years.”

For more information and to register for this event, please visit the GRI website: www.globalreporting.org/information/events/Pages/GRI-Standards-Launch-Events.aspx

The Global Reporting Initiative

GRI is an international independent organization that has pioneered corporate sustainability reporting since 1997. www.GlobalReporting.org

Masdar

Masdar is Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company which works to advance the development, commercialisation and deployment of clean energy technologies and solutions. www.masdar.ae

Union National Bank

Established as a Public Joint Stock Company in 1982, we are one of the leading domestic banks in the United Arab Emirates and are headquartered in Abu Dhabi. www.unb.com

Sustainability Excellence

Sustainability Excellence is a recognized leader in sustainability advisory services, sustainability reporting, and ESG assessment services in the Arab region. www.sustainabilityexcellence.com


Middle East Sustainable Investment Forum (SIF) Launch Event Round Table

March 16, 2017 (9am – 11am)


Doha/Qatar- 16 March, 2017 – The Middle East Sustainable Investment Forum (MESIF) was launched today at the Qatar Stock Exchange, with the goal of driving the responsible investing movement in Qatar and across the Middle East.

Responsible investing takes into account environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities that can affect a company’s financial performance.

The meeting convened an influential group of leading banks, investment firms, and QSE-listed companies to explore the business case for ESG investing and to set a course of action for the SIF.

The Middle East SIF is initiated by Sustainability Excellence, a leading driver of sustainability management in the Arab region. CEO Darin Rovere said “We are delighted to launch the Middle East Sustainable Investment Forum. The Forum will support the growing interest in ESG among regional investors while alerting international investors to the ESG investment opportunity in the region. It will help embed sustainability into local markets and strengthen regional competitiveness.” There are more than 20 SIFs around the world that have played important roles in creating awareness of the key role of investors in driving sustainability practices through investment decisions.

Houssam Lahrech, Head of ESG Invest, the independent ESG ratings division of Sustainability Excellence, added “Investors worldwide increasingly recognize the positive relationship between sound environmental, social and governance performance, and a company’s financial performance. Responsible investing offers opportunities for long-term value creation for both investors and society as a whole.”

The surge in global investor interest, combined with the opportunity for improved performance for companies and their investors, were two key reasons why QSE joined the Sustainable Stock Exchange Initiative (SSEI) in 2016. As part of the SSEI, QSE recently released its Guidelines on ESG Reporting to encourage ESG reporting by QSE-listed companies.

QSE’s role as lead sponsor of Middle East SIF and host of this inaugural meeting, builds upon these recent QSE efforts. QSE CEO Rashid Al Mansouri stated: "Qatar Stock Exchange strongly supports the ambitions of the Middle East SIF and believe that by joining this forum, we will be better equipped to promote the sustainability agenda among our investors, listed companies and the business community within the State of Qatar and thus contribute to the realisation of the National Vision.”

“Investors worldwide are increasingly incorporating sustainability factors into their investment decisions, and we are convinced that companies that effectively communicate their sustainability strategies will improve their capital raising abilities and have an overall competitive advantage”, Mr. Al-Mansoori added.

Mr. Hussain Al Abdulla, Director of Marketing and Communication at QSE, added “We believe that encouraging our listed companies to adopt ESG management and reporting will enhance their performance. We then want to ensure that investors reward that performance. The Middle East SIF will help attract foreign ESG investors while encouraging ESG investing by local investors.”

Globally, the leading advocate of ESG investing is the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI). Graeme Griffiths, Global Network and Outreach Director for UNPRI and Adrian Bertrand, Head of Africa and Middle East of UNPRI also presented at today’s meeting and demonstrated how strongly ESG considerations are being factored and how extensively ESG-minded investing is moving into mainstream investment analysis.

The six Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) are a voluntary and aspirational set of investment principles that offer a menu of possible actions for incorporating ESG issues into investment practice. The Principles were developed by investors, for investors. In implementing them, signatories contribute to developing a more sustainable global financial system. They have more than 1,700 signatories, from over 50 countries, representing US$62 trillion. Today’s meeting of the SIF was the first of a series of quarterly national roundtables and a regional annual forum.

Investors seeking more information can learn more at www.middleeastsif.org

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