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SEC receives top honors from UN anew for sustainability reporting initiatives

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Philippines, led by Chairperson Emilio B. Aquino and Corporate Governance and Finance Director Rachel Esther J. Gumtang-Remalante, and joined by Philippine Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Evan P. Garcia, receives the ISAR Honours 2022 in a ceremony held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on November 2, 2022. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development conferred the ISAR Honours (National Category) to the Commission for promoting sustainability reporting by forming partnerships, increasing awareness, advancing knowledge, and building capacity in the Philippine corporate sector.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has received another recognition from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) for promoting sustainability and sustainable development goals (SDG) reporting in the Philippines.

The SEC received the ISAR Honours 2022 in the national category during a ceremony held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on November 2, besting 45 other organizations from other countries.

It shared the stage with World Bank and International Finance Corporation, UN Global Compact, and World Economic Forum, which received the same award in the international category.

The Commission previously received the ISAR Honours 2019 for promoting sustainability and SDG reporting by requiring publicly-listed companies (PLCs) to submit sustainability reports annually.

The ISAR Honours recognizes policy, institutional and capacity-building initiatives, publicly available at the national or international level, that  encourage  and  assist enterprises to publish data on their contribution to SDG implementation, and that assist governments in collecting such data for SDG monitoring needs.

The award is named after the International Standards of Accounting and Reporting (ISAR), through which the UNCTAD supports public and private sector efforts to enhance the quality and comparability of companies’ reporting on their contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its usefulness for monitoring the implementation of the SDGs.

“I would like to thank the organizers of ISAR Honours and accept this year’s award wholeheartedly with the hope that other jurisdictions will be inspired to immediately adopt or to continue to carry out fully their sustainable practices,” SEC Chairperson Emilio B. Aquino said during the ceremony.

“The SEC Philippines has since been active in enforcing its sustainability guidelines with the UN SDGs at its core, partnering with key stakeholders and conducting several capacity building programs that build on sustainability as a way of life and as a way forward for a more sustainable future. We have been loud and emphatic in saying our battle cry that: Sustainability is everyone’s responsibility.”

The   UNCTAD   particularly   recognized   the workshops, trainings, seminars   and partnerships   organized   by   the   Commission   to   increase   awareness, advance knowledge, and build capacity in sustainability and SDG reporting in the Philippine corporate sector, following the issuance of the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines for Publicly Listed Companies through Memorandum Circular No. 4, Series of 2019.

Prior to the first mandatory submission of sustainability reports, the SEC conducted a series of workshops to capacitate PLCs in the proper preparation of their annual sustainability reports.

The capacity-building exercises and fora were tailored to address both sector-specific and general public concerns.

Following the pioneer submissions in 2020, the SEC continued the conduct of periodic workshops and trainings on sustainability reporting and practices to keep PLCs up to date of, and provide them with a broad perspective of, the developments in the sustainable business landscape.

At the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SEC conducted the workshops and trainings virtually.  Forum and panel type of discussions were also held with the participation of esteemed resource persons from different organizations. In these events, participants are given a wide latitude to interact with the resource persons.

The regular conduct of webinars, trainings, and workshops informs PLCs of the trends and policy development on sustainability reporting, equips them with the tools to plan for, adjust, and document their short-, medium-, and long-term goals accordingly, and capacitates them to write comprehensive and credible sustainability reports.

In the pursuit of these capacity building exercises, the SEC formed strategic partnerships with both private and public sectors, thereby reaching out to individuals and organizations who shared the same sustainability vision.  These partnerships enabled the Commission to understand better the different   perspectives   on sustainability initiatives from policy development to the grassroots implementation.

The number of companies reporting their environmental, social and governance impacts has increased dramatically from only around 22% of the total number of PLCs prior to 2019 to around 91% in 2020, and more than 95% in 2021.

The continuous provision of workshops and trainings on sustainability reporting is projected to result in higher number of sustainability reports submitted, and higher quality of sustainability-related disclosures thereby contributing to the achievement of the United Nations’ SDGs and other universal targets on sustainability.

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