New ESG guidelines can strengthen Polish capital market

Warsaw Stock Exchange

A new set of ESG (environmental, social, governance) reporting guidelines could strengthen the position of the Polish capital market – already the largest in Central and Eastern Europe – as investors become increasingly aware of non-financial factors.

The Warsaw Stock Exchange (GPW) has published its first set of ESG (environmental, social, governance) reporting guidelines for investors and listed companies, together with an ESG reporting manual.

Produced in collaboration with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Steward Redqueen, a specialised consultancy that works across the globe advising organisations on impact and sustainability, the guidelines aim to address some of the challenges facing investors and the financial industry, both in terms of legislation and the rising awareness of the public, who are increasingly sensitive to how companies approach ESG issues.

The guidelines also, however, highlight new business opportunities, such as growing demand for sustainable products and services, the aspiration of businesses to be attractive employers, as well as changing customer behaviour.

“The guidelines provide hands-on tips and solutions based on recognised international non-financial reporting standards,” says Izabela Olszewska, a member of the GPW management board.

“The guidelines have been designed with the contribution of many capital market institutions which understand the imperative of raising the standards of ESG reporting. They will provide small and mid-sized companies with a roadmap for measuring their impact on the environment while defining a code of good practice for market leaders.”

The GPW’s ESG reporting guidelines explain why ESG disclosures are important, what they really are, and how to start reporting.

However, reporting is a complex process as there is no one-size-fits-all approach. With a view to stakeholders’ needs, companies need to find solutions that best fit their business models and business segments. The guidelines describe the process step-by-step from a practical perspective.

The GPW is planning to offer a range of information initiatives addressed to issuers, including webinars and training rounds.

Strengthening the Polish capital market

From an international perspective, the guidelines should strengthen the position of the Polish capital market – already the largest in Central and Eastern Europe – and investor interest in companies listed on the GPW.

Investors need to know how well companies are prepared to manage ESG factors, which may become a precondition of access to capital. Improved quality of ESG reporting will support economic transition in line with the sustainable development goals.

“The guidelines aim at supporting the transition to a climate-neutral, green, competitive and inclusive economy and position GPW as a sustainability leader in the region,” says Grzegorz Zielinski, regional head of Central Europe and the Baltics at the EBRD.

“The guidelines we developed are based on extensive engagement with a range of stakeholders from Poland and international investors,” adds Wouter Scheepens, partner Steward Redqueen. “Our goal was to build on EU regulations and international sustainability reporting frameworks in such a way that Polish issuers and other interested parties will be happy to use this product.”

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