Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) is the most important topic for the global TIC sector currently. How do you see the implementation of ESG in China?

It is my opinion that ESG policies aim at mobilizing the private, the public and the financial sectors to strive towards achieving the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) mainly by empowering them and driving them towards these goals. In China, the specific priority is to convert this external drive force into an internal-oriented motivation. For example, the China Ministry of Ecology and Environment has been facilitating the disclosure of environmental information policies in order to promote ESG management, something that could gradually make entities aware of the importance of environmental risk management for their business operations, enabling them to implement those regulatory requirements into their ESG management system.

TIC Council member SGS certified the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympics and Paralympic Winter Games (Beijing 2022) for ISO 20121 Event Sustainability Management System (ESMS). This is the first time an ESMS certificate has been awarded for big events in China by a third-party TIC company. Could you tell us more about your approach towards this achievement?

The Olympics Organizing Committee of Beijing 2022 decided to apply ISO 20121 in early 2019. After an open and fair tendering procedure, SGS (SGS-CSTC Standards Technical Services Co., Ltd.) was selected and contracted. Rich with the experience of similar sustainability management system certification for the London 2012, Rio 2016 and Pyeongchang 2018 games, SGS was approved thanks to its professional and long experience in ISO 20121 certification.

The Event Sustainability Management System certification of the Beijing 2022 Winter Games was accredited by CNAS (China National Accreditation Service for Conformity Assessment). So far, SGS China is the sole CNAS-accredited certification body offering Event Sustainability Management System certification services in China. Over the past 2-3 years, I notice an increasing number of organisations are placing greater importance on the sustainability management of big events and projects. They turn to third-party TIC companies for professional consultancy and service, which is convincing proof of the rising awareness of our value.  

Beijing 2022 made a significant impression nationally and globally in the field of sports, economy, society, culture, environment, and sustainable development, we are proud to have been a part of it.

ESG policies are not strictly related to environmental and climate issues only. In which other areas is SGS supporting companies and governments in improving their sustainability performance in China?

The environmental and climate issues are definitely crucial for both ESG policies and corporate ESG management and performance given the context of common global climate challenges and calling for joint actions and efforts.

However, the term “ESG” is a holistic concept of an entity capability to sustain medium- and long-term value and commit its social responsibility in a rapidly and ever-changing world. This requires an efficient management of risks and opportunities associated with the changes from the environmental & social policies, market, technology and so on. To do so, companies need to implement their sustainability strategic plan by incorporating the identified risks and opportunities into their operations and specific measures and then use the recognized and/or required framework to disclose their sustainability/non-financial information & performances for key stakeholders’ supervision and engagement.

SGS has been collaborating with entities to enhance their sustainability management system and performance by providing specialized ESG services. These services help entities to improve their sustainability strategy, management system and specific measures. These organizations can then disclose their findings in their non-financial reports in accordance with ESG disclosure standards. Furthermore, SGS assists in promoting the entities’ operational and managemental competences. by offering diversified certification services in the environmental, social and governance dimensions.

So far, SGS provides certification services in relation to aluminium, infrastructure, water and forests using ASI (Aluminium Stewardship Initiative), SuRe (Sustainable and resilience infrastructure), AWS (Alliance for Water Stewardship), CFCC/PEFC & FSC standards. In addition, there is rising demand for green finance to support China’s low-carbon emission targets,  SGS has a package of solutions, eggreen bond verification, social bond verification, sustainability bond verification and ESG investment due diligence.

Besides that, SGS is involved in policy and market development of the key issues in sustainability sectors with regulatory entities and other stakeholders.