03 APR 2012
Better disclosure needed for Hong Kong Stock Exchange
Oxfam calls for stronger provisions in the Environmental, Social and Governance Reporting Guide, particularly for Food and Agriculture Companies which impact smallholder farmers
In a written submission to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) today, Oxfam expressed its support of the proposal of an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Reporting Guide for listed companies in Hong Kong but recommended particular provisions for the listed food and agriculture companies in order to maximise benefits and minimise harm for smallholder farmers, most of whom are the world’s poorest women and men. A preliminary review of the 13 largest capitalisation food and agriculture companies listed on the HKEX shows that only some of the companies have made ESG reporting and even fewer of the companies report on their impacts on smallholder farmers.
"Food and agriculture companies are the supermarkets, food and beverage brands, grain traders and other companies that depend on farmers directly or indirectly to supply them with raw commodities. These companies’ investments and transactions can contribute to Hong Kong’s economic growth, and global growth, and can be a crucial income source for smallholder farmers,” said Kevin Li, Campaign Officer of Oxfam Hong Kong.
The HKEX’s ESG Reporting Guide can serve as an important tool for Hong Kong listed companies to be more transparent and accountable to their stakeholders, and especially to the farmers and rural communities they contract or impact. The ESG Reporting Guide is a critical first step toward promoting corporate social responsibility (CSR) among these companies and lifting smallholder farmers out of poverty.
"Oxfam promotes CSR because business can have a massively positive role in poverty reduction and sustainable development but not every company assumes their responsibility. Without this responsibility, companies can harm the interests, rights and wellbeing of farmers by taking away, polluting, clearing, eroding and destroying land, forest, water and other natural resources that poor people’s livelihoods and food security depend on,” said Li.
Oxfam recommends that the ESG Reporting Guide brings the standards and practices of Hong Kong listed companies closer to international standards, with particular attention to food and agriculture companies. Some overseas stock exchanges have created sustainability indexes and web-based tools for members of the public to access information on ESG practices. Oxfam also encourages the HKEX to make public the schedule with which it intends to move from a “voluntary” to a “comply or explain” regime, and eventually to make the reporting mandatory.
Oxfam is dedicated to fighting poverty and inequity worldwide. The international and independent development and humanitarian organisation tackles poverty in four main ways: sustainable development in poor communities, disaster relief, local and global advocacy, and education with Hong Kong youth. Established in Hong Kong in1976, Oxfam Hong Kong is a founding member of Oxfam, an international confederation that has assisted poor people in 92 countries. Oxfam Hong Kong alone has supported poor people in over 70 countries/regions. Oxfam Hong Kong also actively promotes corporate social responsibility base on the belief that business plays a central role in poverty reduction and sustainable development.