Hawkamah has launched the first ever MENA wide Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) Index in cooperation with Standard & Poor's with the support of the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
In response to changing economic conditions and to the practices that played a role in sparking the current financial crisis, institutional investors are increasingly focusing on long-term risks in their investments, and environmental, social and governance factors play a significant role in making those assessments. Financial performance indicators have traditionally marked whether or not to invest in a company. Non-financial indicators, however, are also indicative of the future performance of companies.
The ESG Index provides an incentive to listed companies in these emerging markets to pursue sustainable business practices through improved environmental and socially responsible operations, as well as enhanced corporate governance systems. The purpose of the ESG Index is to raise the profile of those companies that perform well along the three parameters of environmental, social and corporate governance practices when compared to their market peers. The methodology is based on the one developed for the S&P ESG India index.
The Index covers Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia, and provides qualitative information to investors looking to analyze these companies' sustainability performance. Index constituents are derived from listed companies and selected by total market capitalization. This universe of stocks is then subjected to a screening process which yields a score based on a company's ESG disclosure practices in the public domain. Examples of disclosure channels in the public domain include annual reports, websites, bulletins, and disclosures made on stock exchanges.
Not only will the project strengthen and promote the success of environmentally sustainable, socially responsible businesses in the MENA region, but by attracting long-term international institutional investors looking for exposure to socially responsible companies in emerging markets, the index will help reduce regional stock market volatility.
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