Academic researchers from around the world presented papers on a range of responsible investment topics at the fourth annual GRASFI (Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment) conference last month, sponsored by BNP Paribas Asset Management (‘BNPP AM’). This year’s conference took place online and was organised by the International Institute of Green Finance (‘IIGF’) of the Central University of Finance & Economics (‘CUFE’) in Beijing.
The overall winning paper was The Effects of Mandatory ESG Disclosure around the World. It was written by Philipp Krueger (University of Geneva - Geneva Finance Research Institute (GFRI); Swiss Finance Institute; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI); University of Geneva - Geneva School of Economics and Management), Zacharias Sautner (Frankfurt School of Finance & Management; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI), Dragon Yongjun Tang (The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Business and Economics) and Rui Zhong (The University of Western Australia - UWA Business School).
The four researchers analysed an international dataset of mandatory ESG disclosure regulations introduced in 25 countries between 2000 and 2017. They found that mandatory disclosure of ESG information improves the level of reporting and has numerous informational and real effects, while the average quality of ESG reports stays roughly the same. They also looked at the impact of mandatory ESG disclosure on the overall information set available to market participants in evaluating companies.
They found that mandatory ESG disclosure resulted in a 56% increase in the number of companies that file ESG reports in the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) database, which allows investors to easily access and bulk-download ESG reports, although such regulation has no effect on the quality of ESG disclosure reports. Although there was no discernible reason for this, companies with lower ESG reporting quality nonetheless made significant improvements after ESG disclosure was required.
The researchers concluded that mandatory ESG disclosure benefits market participants by increasing the availability and quality of company-specific non-financial information, as well as decreasing the likelihood of negative ESG events.
Alex Bernhardt, Global Head of Sustainability Research at BNPP AM, comments:
“This important research confirms that enhanced disclosure of ESG information can inform idiosyncratic or company-specific price discovery for investors, as well as demonstrating that information access can reduce systemic risk by reducing the likelihood of market crashes. Some regulatory jurisdictions are already moving to enhance ESG disclosure requirements and it is hoped that others will follow their lead, particularly those whose mandates include systemic risk management.”
The winning paper is the first of ten of the most compelling papers presented at this year’s conference that will be summarised on BNPP AM’s Investors’ Corner blog as a monthly series, each being accompanied by practitioner views from BNPP AM experts. A summary of this year’s winning paper is available here: https://investors-corner.bnpparibas-am.com/investing/mandating-esg-disclosures-really-makes-a-difference/ and the full paper can be downloaded here: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3832745.
Further information about GRASFI is available here: https://sustainablefinancealliance.org/ and details about the GRASFI 2021 Conference are available here: https://beijing2021.sustainablefinancealliance.org/.
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The Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment was founded in 2017 to promote multi-disciplinary academic research on sustainable finance and investment, and consists of global research universities, each with expertise in this emerging field. It aims to: organise the major annual academic conference on sustainable finance and investment internationally; develop academic collaboration between researchers working on sustainable finance and investment; and nurture the growth and development of graduate students and junior academics working on sustainable finance and investment. BNPP AM has been the asset management sponsor of GRASFI’s annual academic conference since 2018. Member universities are:
University of California, Berkeley
University of Cambridge
Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing
City, University of London
École Polytechnique – ENSAE
EDHEC Business School
Frankfurt School of Finance and Management
University of Hamburg
Imperial College London
London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
University of Otago
University of Oxford
PSL Université Paris-Dauphine
Queen’s University, Canada
Singapore Management University (SMU)
SOAS, University of London
Stockholm School of Economics
University of Toronto
University College London
University of Waterloo
University of Zurich