The winners of a new sustainabilty report award in Asia were unveiled in Singapore on Thursday, with Hong Kong developer Hang Lung Properties clinching the top honours.
The real estate firm was awarded prizes for ‘Asia’s Sustainability Report of the Year (Judges Choice)’ and ‘Asia’s Best Sustainability Report’ at the Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards 2015 awards ceremony, organised by Singapore consultancy CSRWorks International and supported by the British High Commission in Singapore.
At the event, held at the British High Commissioner to Singapore’s residence, Birla Carbon, a unit of Indian conglomerate Aditya Birla Group also picked up awards in multiple categories including Best Online Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Communication, Best Materiality Reporting, and Most Transparent Report.
Hong Kong’s Airport Authority, Maybank Malaysia and the Commercial Bank of Ceylon, Sri Lanka, were among the other winners selected for the 15 award categories, including Best Carbon Disclosure and Best Integrated Reporting.
India’s Yes Bank Limited won the Best Community Reporting category, while Singapore telecommunications firm StarHub received a special mention.
A judging panel made up of academics, CSR experts and sustainability professionals selected the winners out of a pool of 180 companies that participated from Hong Kong, China, Japan, India, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Middle East, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines.
In a statement, the panel said they found Hang Lung Properties’ report “creative, accessible, readable, engaging and seemingly authentic”.
“Hang Lung’s sustainability vision is well articulated,” added the judges. They also praised the company for integrating feedback from stakeholders into various targets they set out in their sustainability report, and said that the document also scored well because it was externally audited.
Rajesh Chhabara, managing director, CSRWorks International, told Eco-Business that the awards aims to “encourage and promote sustainability disclosure by honouring those who have demonstrated leadership in sustainability reporting”.
The practice not only helps improve an organisation’s reputation as a responsible business, it is also an economic opportunity, noted Chhabara.
According to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, a global group of sustainable investment organisations, there is an estimated US$21.4 trillion in Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) funds available worldwide, which is set aside exclusively for companies which disclose their social and environmental performance.
Today, “Only 0.6 per cent of SRI funds are invested in Asia,” said Chhabara. “This translates to a paltry US$12.8 billion invested”.
Awareness of sustainability reporting in the region is growing, however. Sustainability reporting is mandatory in Taiwan since 2015 for example, while Malaysia, Indonesia, China, and Hong Kong also require firms to carry out sustainability reporting to varying degrees.
The Singapore stock exchange, SGX, last year announced that it would require all listed companies to submit annual sustainability reports from 2017 onwards, on a “comply or explain” basis.
Today, only 30 out of the 770 SGX-listed companies produce reports compatible with international standards such as the Global Reporting Initiative.
The awards intend to encourage more companies in the region to take up sustainability reporting and cash in on the funds earmarked for responsible investing, and also create a platform for sharing best practices, he noted.
“We believe the awards will inspire more companies to start reporting to gain recognition and to match their competition,” he added.