ABCK AmCham Kuwait supported the event hosted by BDO Kuwait, featuring a seminar on “Navigating ESG in Business”.

The seminar was kick started by Mr. Rami Alhadhrami, Partner – Tax & Regulatory Services. Mr. Dipankar Ghosh, Partner – ESG & Sustainability Services at BDO, then took place to address the dynamic landscape of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) practices.

The seminar navigated through the ESG context, delving into the intricacies of ESG disclosure and the regulatory landscape, exploring sectoral trends and their impacts, along with implications and directions stemming from COP28. Mr. Dipankar Ghosh provided key takeaways, offering actionable insights for businesses in the ever-evolving world of ESG and sustainability.

In a world grappling with energy scarcity, water scarcity, material depletion, land shortage, and waste management issues, the seminar illuminated global opportunities arising from top sustainability risks. It articulated the reasons for embracing sustainability beyond regulatory compulsion, emphasizing its role as a business imperative. The focus was on enhancing shareholder value through good governance, and ethical practices, meeting environmental and social regulations, and navigating emerging regulations worldwide.

The seminar also explored the typical ESG maturity journey of businesses, emphasizing the importance of ESG disclosures. The regulatory landscape was scrutinized, highlighting global trends and the impact of regulatory bodies on disclosure practices. Attention was drawn to the increasing demands from investors on ESG considerations.

For the GCC nations, the seminar underscored the voluntary adoption of corporate sustainability reporting standards and the encouragement for businesses to disclose their ESG practices. The importance of assurance in solidifying ESG disclosure efforts was discussed.

The event delved into Kuwait’s ambitions for achieving net zero and the implications on businesses. Specific case studies from Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (Oil & Gas), National Bank of Kuwait (Financial Services), and Mabanee (Real Estate) showcased sustainability in action.

With a focus on COP28, the seminar unveiled key takeaways, including emerging leading practices, ESG transformation levers for organizations, the extension of corporate reporting to climate change, and the inevitable transition of ESG.

Mrs. Asmaa Al-Zimami, an engineer at the Environment Public Authority (EPA), participated in the seminar by providing an overview of EPA waste management objectives and the Asbestos Waste Removal Program in Kuwait.

The seminar included an effective panel discussion session led by Mr. Ketan Puri, Manager of Regulatory Services at BDO, were insightful thoughts were exchanged with panelists which included participation of leaders from Boursa Kuwait, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, the private sector, and researchers in economic sustainability field.

The next presentation featured Abdallah Farhat, Partner- Audit and Assurance Department, who explored the landscape of Sustainability Reporting, focusing on the groundbreaking IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards. Mr. Farhat discussed the two sustainability-related disclosure Standards: IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standard S1 – General Requirements for Disclosure of Sustainability-Related Financial Information and IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standard S2 – Climate-Related Disclosures. These standards, prepared by the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), provided additional information regarding an organization’s sustainability-related risks and opportunities.

IFRS S1 and IFRS S2 became effective for annual reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2024, subject to adoption by in each country.

The seminar’s third presentation, delivered by Tahseen Abuzaineh, Assistant Manager Sustainability & ESG Services, explored the realm of ESG Technology and the Power of ESG Data Management Systems. Abuzaineh shared insights into the growing global market of ESG reporting software, estimating it at $0.7 billion in 2022, with anticipated growth to $2.7 billion by 2028. The presentation delved into ESG data collection and reporting challenges, emphasizing the benefits of ESG Data Management Systems.

The BDO ESG Data & Digital Service Offering was presented, covering ESG Data Management Software Evaluation & Selection, Managing Large Volumes of Data, Ensuring Audit-readiness, Cleansing ESG data for accurate reporting, Data Protection & Compliance, and Data Collection & Integration.

The final presentation by Rami Alhadhrami and Ketan Puri, explored the crucial role of Tax in ESG. They highlighted the need for taxes to fund and maintain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They emphasized that tax is a fiscal tool that can drive sustainability activities, tackle climate change, and meet societal expectations for corporations to pay their fair share of taxes.

The presentation underscored the importance of tax governance & transparency, especially in the M&A space, where investors evaluate investee entities’ tax frameworks. Aligning tax with ESG approaches, Alhadhrami presented guidelines for developing Tax ESG principles, including responsible tax policies and impact testing.

Alhadhrami concluded with key takeaways on transparent tax reporting, sustainable tax policies, and tax risk & governance framework, aligning with ESG guidelines such as those from PRI.

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