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.

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