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ICGN Insight

Pursuing our Purpose

ICGN remains focused on our core purpose to inspire the highest standards of corporate governance and investor stewardship worldwide. This is evident in the dozens of letters submitted to regulators this year, alongside a series of thoughtful reports written on topical issues, most recently on shareholder proposals.

ICGN has long advocated that both companies and investors share a mutual responsibility to preserve and enhance long-term corporate value, ultimately contributing to sustainable economic growth, social prosperity, and a healthy environment. This sentiment is hard-wired in ICGN’s Global Governance Principles used by ICGN Members as a bellwether for their voting policies and company engagements; and many governments use the ICGN Principles to help inspire the evolution of national codes. 

We reviewed the ICGN Principles this year as part of a three-year cycle. Another important ICGN initiative this year was our Statement of Shared Climate Change Responsibilities published ahead of COP 26. Strong corporate governance and investor stewardship, supported by robust corporate sustainability standards, reporting and auditing, are critical to ensuring the world meets the challenges of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Corporate boards, institutional investors and the auditing profession have unique responsibilities to clearly identify challenges, determine solutions, and implement assertive action.

ICGN also welcomed the announcement at COP 26 of the establishment of the International Sustainability Standards Board and consolidation of the Climate Disclosure Standards Board and the Value Reporting Foundation into a single body under the IFRS Foundation. These efforts will help meet investors’ information needs and facilitate consistent, comparable, and verifiable sustainability related information across markets and industries. It will equip investors to assess the ‘climate competitiveness’ of companies as a key determinate of value.

This year we have also taken care to ensure that ICGN’s policy committees align with regulatory and market-led developments, and we have re-structured our policy teams with a renewed focus on the role of corporate boards, institutional investors, and auditors in ensuring the proper integration of financial, human, and natural capital in alignment with a company’s purpose and long-term strategy. This is particularly poignant in the context of a world facing systemic challenges of the highest magnitude with the covid pandemic and climate change. Stark social inequalities have been exposed and public mistrust in capitalism propagated like never before. So how we address these risks and ‘level-up’ across society is key to successfully rebooting the global economy while at the same time creating a healthier and more sustainable world. 

Kerrie Waring is Chief Executive Officer of the International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN), a global governance organisation led by investors responsible for assets of around US$70 trillion, based in over 40 countries. She also serves as a Member of the Japan Financial Services Agency’s Council of Experts advising on corporate governance and investor stewardship reforms.

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