13 March 2024

11 min read

ESG Watch | March 2024

March 2024
diggers in a mining field


Key news in this edition:

  • European Council and European Parliament reach a deal to ban products made with forced labour. 
  • Mandatory climate disclosure from 2025 in Singapore. 
  • The Global Reporting Initiative launches landmark global sustainability reporting standard for mining industry. 

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European Council and European Parliament reach a deal to ban products made with forced labour  

On 5 March, the European Council and European Parliament agreed on a provisional regulation to ban any products made with forced labour from being available in or exported from the EU market. The regulation targets products both manufactured in the EU and abroad. The proposal gives the Commission responsibility for creating a database of verifiable and up-to-date information on forced labour risks and lays down the criteria for the assessment of potential violations. The Commission will be responsible for leading the investigations for the products manufactured abroad, and national authorities will lead the investigations in the EU member states. The provisional agreement needs to be endorsed and formally adopted by both institutions, and is expected to be implemented by member states within three years from that date. 

European Parliament adopts extended list of offences and sanctions for environmental crimes   

On 27 February, the European Parliament reached a provisional agreement on the scope of the EU’s environmental crimes and sanctions rules, which are designed to strengthen ecosystem protection. The agreement seeks to make selected environmental offences equal with criminal offences, to ensure a more robust enforcement of the EU’s environmental legislation. The agreement includes imprisonment for up to 10 years for individuals and company representatives committing environmental offences that lead to death, and the obligation to reinstate the damaged environment or compensate for the damage caused. The agreement also includes provisions to strengthen the protection of and provide support for environmental whistleblowers.  

The agreement is still awaiting a formal approval by the EU’s Legal Affairs Committee, the European Parliament, and the EU Council before it can enter into force. 

EU seeking adoption of CSDDD with new compromises 

On 28 February, the Council of the EU voted on the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) and failed to achieve the qualified majority, a necessary step before the formal adoption of the EU legislation. This was as a result of objections from Germany, France, and Italy. A provisional agreement had already been reached between the European Parliament and the Council in December 2023, which set obligations for large companies regarding actual and potential adverse impacts on human rights and the environment. 

In early March, the Belgian presidency in the EU engaged informally with each of the member states to let them voice any concerns on the draft. The possible compromises in the directive in order to reach the qualified majority include raising employee count and turnover thresholds to target just the largest companies, removing the requirement to consider high risk sectors, and removing contentious financial incentives. However, CSDDD advocates claim that including these changes could significantly reduce the actual impact of the directive. 

The final version of the directive needs to be approved by both the Parliament and the Council by 15 March if the legislative process is to conclude before the European elections in June.

Sub-saharan africa

GRI launches landmark global sustainability reporting standard for mining industry 

On 5 February, the Global Reporting Initiative, an international independent organisation for impact reporting, announced the launch of the GRI 14: Mining Sector 2024 (‘GRI 14’), the first global mining sector reporting standard, during the annual Mining Indaba conference held in South Africa.  

The GRI 14 incorporates mining guidance and relevant standards with the aim of enabling companies within the sector to identify and disclose a variety of sustainability impacts ranging from emissions to water usage, biodiversity, corruption and human rights. The GRI 14 was developed in response to a call for increased transparency and accountability within the industry, as well as a need for robust reporting that is globally comparable.   

The GRI 14 provides commentary on artisanal and small-scale mining and operating within conflict areas, topics which were previously not accounted for. The GRI 14 will apply to all organisations in mining and quarrying, including exploration, extraction, primary processing and any related support services.  


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Asia Pacific 

Mandatory climate disclosure from 2025 in Singapore 

On 28 February, Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority and the Singapore Exchange Regulation released details of mandatory climate reporting for listed companies and large non-listed companies. 

Starting from FY 2025, listed companies in Singapore will be required to report and file annual climate-related disclosures, by using requirements aligned with the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB). From 2027, large non-listed companies, which is defined as companies with annual revenue of at least SGD 1 billion (USD 740 million) and total assets of at least SGD 500 million (USD 374 million), will also be required to follow suit.  

Under the new rules, both listed companies and large non-listed companies will also be required to obtain external limited assurance, or independent verification. This will be phased in from 2027. 

Starting from this financial year, only listed firms in five prioritised industries, specifically finance, agriculture and food production, energy, materials, and transport, are required to provide full climate-related disclosures, while other industries make disclosures on a “comply-or-explain” basis. 

Thailand SEC proposed principles for establishing Green Investment Trust 

On 16 February, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand proposed a framework for establishing and managing a Green Investment Trust, a type of investment trust investing in environmental projects. The projects would focus on afforestation or reforestation generating revenue from selling carbon credits. However, at this stage the SEC has proposed that only institutional investors and ultra-high net worth investors are eligible to invest in the Green Investment Trust due to volatility issues. Ultra-high net worth individuals are defined as a natural person having a net asset value of THB 70 million (USD 1.97 million), an annual income of THB 10 million (USD 281,000) or having direct investment in securities or derivatives for not less than THB 25 million (USD 703,000). 


Brazilian government announces USD 3 billion in partnerships for low-carbon projects 

On 26 February, the Brazilian government announced partnerships with the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to boost foreign investment in low-carbon projects in the country. According to the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Brazil is expected to receive up to USD 3 billion to combat the effects of climate change and accelerate ecological transformation. The IDB announced a credit line of USD 2 billion and technical support within the scope of the Fundo Clima, Brazil’s national climate change fund. The World Bank considered allocating USD 1 billion, also to the Fundo Clima, but with a focus on forests, green cities, and solid waste management. 

The objective of the partnership with the World Bank and the IDB is to offer innovative financial solutions and credit to encourage investment, as well as exchange rate protection for private sector projects that promote ecological transformation and sustainable development. Created in December 2009, the Fundo Clima was resumed in 2023 with the contribution of BRL 630 million (USD 127.2 million) to finance projects aiming to mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

ESG Watch is S-RM’s round-up of the latest regulatory and policy updates relating to ESG from around the globe.

To discuss these articles or other related developments in ESG, please reach out to one of our experts.


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