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Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Investing in the Philippines 

by Jose Florante M. Pamfilo, Julia Alexandra D. Chu

Published: June, 2021

Submission: June, 2021

 



Broadly speaking, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing is understood as investing that incorporates ESG factors in investment decisions. It is often used interchangeably with the terms sustainable investing, responsible investing, ethical investing and impact investing.


The growing importance of ESG factors in investment decision-making was highlighted by Larry Fink, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, in his annual letter to CEOs in 2018. In the letter, Mr. Fink said, “[s]ociety is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.”1


In the Philippines, regulators have in recent years steadily deployed a stream of policy measures designed to enable investors to consider ESG factors in their investment, and to encourage companies to behave in a manner that benefits society and the environment. These policy measures are discussed below.


A. Securities and Exchange Commission


  1. Code of Corporate Governance 
  2. Guidelines on the Issuance of Green, Social and Sustainability Bonds

B. Insurance Commission


C. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas


D. Conclusion


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Securities and Exchange Commission


Code of Corporate Governance.


In 2016, the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued the Code of Corporate Governance for Publicly-Listed Companies (CG-PLC), 2 which superseded the Revised Code of Corporate Governance and related issuances insofar as they relate to publiclylisted companies (PLCs). Significantly, the CG-PLC adopted an expansive view of corporate purpose, reinforced the idea of stakeholder governance, and introduced sustainability reporting in the governance framework of PLCs.


The CG-PLC defines corporate governance as “the system of stewardship and control to guide organizations in fulfilling their long-term economic, moral, legal and social obligations towards their stakeholders.” It further states that the purpose of corporate governance is to maximize an organization’s long-term success, creating sustainable value for its shareholders, stakeholders, and the nation. It defines the term “stakeholder” to include customers, creditors, employees, suppliers, investors, as well as the government and community in which an organization operates.3


 



 

 

 
 

Footnotes:

1 Larry Fink’s 2018 Letter to CEOs: A Sense of Purpose, available at https://www.blackrock.com/corporate/investorrelations/2018-larry-fink-ceo-letter.


2 Please see SEC Memorandum Circular No. 19 s.2016 at https://www.sec.gov.ph/wpcontent/uploads/2019/11/2016_memo_circular_no.19.pdf for reference.


3 While a similar definition of the term “stakeholders” and the duties of the board of directors towards a corporation’s stakeholders (alongside its duties to the corporation’s shareholders) were first introduced in a 2014 amendment to the Revised Code of Corporate Governance, the latter did not go as far as to explicitly recognize that corporate purpose encompasses creating sustainable value for a corporation’s stakeholders


 

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