These days, sustainability and ethical impact of any company or business’s investment are measured by three important parameters – Environment, Social responsibility, and Governance (ESG). These three standards hold immense significance and must be comprehended with utmost depth to reach sustainability standards.
Climate change and environmental degradation have become key global concerns for citizens, policymakers, and industry. There is growing recognition that businesses have a significant impact on the environment through their operations, resource consumption, and carbon emissions. E in the ESG factors help assess a company’s environmental impact and encourage businesses to adopt sustainable practices, reduce their carbon footprint and invest in renewable sources.
Companies are being held accountable for their impact on society. Stakeholders, including customers, employees, and investors are increasingly demanding ethical business practices and social responsibility. S in ESG factors assess a company’s commitment to human rights, labour standards, diversity and inclusion, community engagement, and other social issues. Businesses that incorporate Corporate Social Responsibility in their overall purpose notice enhanced reputation, attract top talent, and build stronger relationships with customers and other stakeholders.
Governance refers to the way a company is managed how it sets its strategic direction, and the systems and processes in place to ensure accountability, transparency, and ethical behaviour. Governance (G) in ESG is crucial because it ensures that companies are managed in a responsible, transparent, and ethical manner. It establishes the structures, processes, and practices that promote long-term sustainability, risk management, and stakeholder trust. By prioritizing good governance, companies can enhance their reputation, attract investors, and contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive economy.
Governments and regulatory bodies around the world are implementing policies and regulations that encourage or mandate Environment, Social responsibility, and Governance (ESG) practices. This includes initiatives such as carbon pricing, renewable energy targets, and mandatory requirements that may face legal and reputational risks while those that proactively embrace ESG can position for compliance and competitive advantage.
Exercising its power, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) recently issued regulations regarding the broad definitions of the ESG as well as the ESG providers and the role these providers would play. The regulation is a comprehensive and detailed set of rules that govern the registration and regulation of ESG rating providers in India.
The regulations have broadly defined that ESG rating with respect to the exposure of the entity subject to environmental risk, social risk and governance risk.
Whereas the ESG rating provider is defined as a person who is engaged in or proposes to engage in the business of issuing ESG ratings.
The ESG rating providers should have a minimum net worth of ₹100 million, a sound financial and operational infrastructure, and the process for registering ESG rating providers. ESG rating providers must apply to SEBI, with a fee of ₹50,000. SEBI will review the application and decide whether to grant registration.
The Code of Conduct ensures that ESG rating providers act objectively and unbiased, protect investors’ interests, and ensure that ESG ratings are accurate, dependable, and used responsibly.
For example, an investor interested in sustainable companies could use ESG ratings to identify companies with good environmental and social practices. This information could help the investor make a more informed investment decision and support companies working to improve the world.
The decision is likely to promote sustainable investing in India. By making it easier for socially conscious investors to identify and invest in sustainable companies, the rules could encourage more people to invest in sustainable businesses driving the growth of India’s sustainable investing industry and contributing to the country’s transition to a more sustainable economy.
The new ESG regulations as regulator’s good initiative to promote sustainable investing in India. It is a welcome development to have ESG ratings in India as this would provide a clear set of rules and guidelines for ESG rating providers to follow. This will also help ensure qualitative improvements in ESG ratings that could match the global standards in the time to come.
Overall, these regulations are a positive step towards ensuring that ESG ratings are accurate, transparent, and fair; organically promoting sustainable investing in India will help investors make more informed investment decisions and support companies committed to responsible business practices and look forward to seeing the implementation and its impact on the ESG rating industry in India.
Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.
Vineet Mittal is the Director of Finance & Strategy at Navitas Solar, the Surat-based solar panel manufacturing company. Vineet was instrumental in establishing the manufacturing facility for Navitas Solar. A natural team builder, Vineet has contributed immensely to scaling the company’s growth with his strategic financial planning. He is successful in devising and applying new ideas and innovations to propel companies to build a competitive edge. For his diligent efforts in the solar industry, Vineet was featured among the Top 100 Powerful Leaders of the Solar Industry in India. With a focus on the RE and EV sectors, he is actively creating awareness about sustainability among the masses.