Biennial review 2020 - Public Consultation

31/08/2020

In November 2019, the Central Labelling Agency of the Belgian SRI label (CLA) vzw/asbl, awarded the first 'Towards Sustainability' labels to financial products that were compliant with the Quality Standard for sustainable and socially responsible financial products. 

Since then more than 460 products, including investment funds, index products, insurance funds and saving products, have obtained the label amounting to more than 230 billion EUR that is managed respecting the criteria of the Quality Standard. 

More than 70 financial institutions from over 10 countries are currently involved in the Towards Sustainability Initiative, making it the most comprehensive and inclusive labelling initiative for financial products in Europe

The label and the underlying Quality Standard were developed with the objective to grow and safeguard the quality and integrity of the market of sustainable financial products on the one hand, and to provide more transparency and guidance to retail and institutional investors on the other hand.  

The Quality Standard is a normative framework that stipulates a number of criteria that a product which claims to be sustainable should minimally meet. At the same time, it encourages product managers to go beyond these minimal criteria and be more ambitious. The minimal criteria concern ESG due diligence processes, sustainability policies and screening criteria, exclusion of harmful activities and transparency. 

Review

A quality standard in the field of sustainability can however not be static: it can only be dynamic and evolutive to keep pace with changing consumer expectations, societal needs, scientific research, data availability and new regulatory initiatives. Especially on the regulatory level, the European Commission has been very active: e.g. in developing a taxonomy defining green economic activities and a new regulation requiring extensive ESG disclosures from companies and financial market participants. As these regulations gradually come into effect over the coming years, they will provide a further foundation for the Towards Sustainability initiative to build upon. 

For that reason, the Quality Standard is reviewed every 2 years in a multi-stakeholder context. The review process gives an opportunity to all relevant stakeholders, financial and non-financial, to express their views on the direction in which the Quality Standard should evolve. 

Consultation document

A key element of the review process is the consultation document (English, French, Dutch) to which all stakeholders are invited to respond.

Respondents are requested to send their feedback and responses to the survey questions to info@towardssustainability.be by 1 November 2020.