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Public companies are preparing for acquiring ESG ratings
Sofia, May 14 2024 – The Green Finance and Energy Centre held the second strategic Green Talks meeting of the year, focused on public companies and the ESG opportunities and challenges they face on the path to sustainable development.
At the beginning of the meeting, the Bulgarian Stock Exchange presented the future ESG index and the steps for public companies to obtain a green rating from LSEG Data & Analytics (formerly known as Refinitiv), a part of the London Stock Exchange Group. The rating from LSEG is completely free for Bulgarian public companies, allowing them to assess their progress in green transformation. The Exchange's ambition is to start calculating the index in 2024, and in this regard, it is necessary for public companies to actively provide the required information in English directly on the LSEG platform at the following address:

Mrs. Maria Filipova, Deputy Chair of the Financial Supervision Commission, was a special guest at the meeting, emphasizing key aspects related to corporate governance for sustainable development – regulatory framework and international practices, guidelines and standards, as well as sustainable development through the lens of the G20 Principles of Corporate Governance. As one of the institutions supporting the Green Center from its inception, Mrs. Filipova supported the Green Centre's efforts in initiatives related to sharing experiences and best practices among public companies in Bulgaria and urged companies to use the Oxygen platform, through which they can calculate their carbon footprint completely free of charge.

Representatives from various sectors participated in the second Green Talks meeting, including Telelink Business Services Group AD, Sopharma AD, and Industrial Holding Bulgaria AD, who discussed their awareness process regarding the importance of the ESG topic, actions taken in environmental, social, and corporate aspects, achieved successes, challenges faced, and the feeling of satisfaction. The importance of proper motivation of company management, employee engagement, development of intellectual capital, the role of external consultants, and the continuous need for training at all levels in an organization during this challenging ESG growth process were highlighted in inspiring discussions. A key conclusion was that the ESG strategy should be directly integrated into the business processes at all levels to become a natural part of companies' activities rather than developing as a parallel project.

Telelink Business Services Group is starting to build its sustainability strategy as a self-aware process, involving the interconnections between people, processes, and systems. With the help of a good organizational structure and a clear understanding of the complexity of a sustainable culture, Telelink Business Services Group joined the UN Global Compact in 2024 and signed the Women's Empowerment Principles, as well as received an award in 2023 - a bronze medal awarded by the sustainability consultancy EcoVadis. Various initiatives in the environmental and social aspects are organized. In 2021, the TBS Academy was established, with 49 young people participating last year, 25 of whom are already working in the company. Encouragement of women's engagement in various teams, training of children in disadvantaged situations, communication with technical schools in Bulgaria, etc., are promoted. A challenge is the lack of readiness for ESG reporting by the company's suppliers, which directly impedes the collection of data for Scope 3 emissions calculation, lack of awareness in Bulgaria about ESG, etc.

Some of the questions that Sopharma has been asking itself as a company concern the importance of the ESG topic for the group, which includes subsidiaries, associates, and joint ventures with over 4000 employees, the benefits for the business, who in the organization will be responsible for the project, and the ability to handle it independently. Key words and moments in the company's journey so far were revealed: Awareness that ESG and business strategy should merge into one; Control – business benefits such as risk management, sustainable project financing, sustainable financial results, and commitment to shareholders; Integration – learning from multinational companies in the field; Management – maintaining focus on things that are truly important for the company and stakeholders; Structure – reaching the conclusion that a partner is needed, training at all levels in the organization, and a long-term ESG specialist with a unifying function.

For Industrial Holding Bulgaria, a serious challenge is the legislative framework, as part of the company's business is heavily regulated; employee engagement and thus the awareness of the need for training on the subject at all levels in the holding; internal process for organizing information and efforts to understand the subject matter; difficulty in accounting for the ecological part.

After the company presentations, the discussion focused on the fact that the shift towards sustainable business, especially towards climate neutrality, is associated with numerous regulations, complex and comprehensive policies, and practices. This cannot happen without the assistance and expertise of specialized consultants. The Green Centre plans to organize four meetings each year dedicated to the difficulties and solutions in the field of ESG, which directly reflect on companies' business models and financial institutions.
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