21 October 2016
Polar bears are becoming homeless as their natural habitat is overtaken by environmental damage caused by climate change. Photo: Reuters
Polar bears are becoming homeless as their natural habitat is overtaken by environmental damage caused by climate change. Photo: Reuters

How fair trade is helping inspire sustainable practices

During a recent visit to Greenland, I stood in front of a melting ice mountain in the North Pole and sighed at the damage brought by global warming.

I thought about polar bears who are becoming homeless and I pondered how wonderful it would be if I could celebrate my 75th birthday with my family and friends in the South Pole and dance with penguins in a world of ice and snow.

I am privileged to be a life member of the World Wide Fund for Nature and happy to do my share to preserve our environment.

There are millions of farmers who live under the poverty line and workers who are underpaid.

That shows the significance of fair trade, a social movement to reduce poverty and social inequity and mitigate climate change.

In fact, many companies and organizations have adopted fair trade and sustainable practices.

In the first fair trade football game held last year, we used hand-made football from Pakistan.

Charles Li, chief executive of Hong Kong Exchange, joined the game and led the team to the championship.

The Fair Trade Hong Kong Foundation will host a second game on Oct. 17, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

I have been in the accounting business for several decades.

In the past, we focused on traditional reports but nowadays, the report is no longer limited to financial performance but also includes non-financial details such as social responsibility and environmental work.

That complies with the sustainable strategy of today’s companies and improves corporate governance and transparency.

In August 2012, the Hong Kong stock exchange published the Consultation Conclusions on Environmental, Social and Governance Reporting Guide.

It is divided into four parts — workplace quality, environmental protection, operating practices and community involvement.

The guide is a set of recommended practices.

The Hong Kong bourse published another consultation paper on July 17 to seek views on proposed amendments to the environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting guide.

The consultation ends on Sept. 18.

The proposals aim to strengthen ESG disclosure requirements, encourage more widespread and standardized ESG reporting and help issuers meet greater demand and expectations for non-financial information from investors and other stakeholders.

In formulating the proposals, the exchange took into consideration developments in Hong Kong and international markets.

“When we first introduced the guide, it was intended to be the first step in an evolutionary process, with the longer-term goal of achieving better and more comprehensive ESG reporting among our issuers,” said David Graham, HKEx chief regulatory officer and head of listing.

“We believe that strengthening issuers’ ESG disclosure obligations will enhance the quality, sustainability and reputation of our market.”

The key proposals include amendments to listing rules.

Issuers will be required to state in their annual report or ESG report whether they have complied with the “comply or explain” provisions of the ESG Guide for the relevant financial year.

Allan Lee Ka-fai wrote this article, which appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 7.

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]


Young Accountants Association of Hong Kong

EJI Weekly Newsletter