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HKICPA refocuses its annual Awards to recognize organizations integrating CG & ESG practices and highlights findings of brief research on ESG assurance of Hang Seng Index companies

12 July 2021

(HONG KONG, 12 July 2021) With the increasing demand for ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) information by investors pursuing long-term investment in sustainable and socially responsible companies, as well as other stakeholders, the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA) is pleased to be launching the Best Corporate Governance and ESG Awards. Previously known as the Best Corporate Governance Awards, they were first organized in 2000 and, since then, have become among Hong Kong’s most prestigious and sought-after awards.


The Institute is now inviting listed companies and public sector / not-for-profit organizations to enter the 2021 Awards by 9 August 2021.


“The Awards have been renamed and refocused this year to reflect the increasing importance of ESG reporting, and to encourage companies and organizations to integrate the oversight and implementation of their corporate governance (CG) and ESG, as well as uplift the standards of disclosure and practices in both areas, “said Mr. Raymond Cheng, President of HKICPA and Chairman of Judging Panel of Best CG & ESG Awards 2021.


“We hold the view that, in the final analysis, you can’t have good corporate governance without good ESG, and you can’t have good ESG without having a good CG structure in place”, adds Mr. Cheng.


“The judges of the Awards have recommended that companies develop clear ESG strategies and objectives from the top down, as well as undertaking ongoing benchmarking with key performance indicators (KPIs) and concrete targets to monitor how they are performing in terms of ESG,” explained Mr. Patrick Rozario, Chairman of the Review Panel of the BCG & ESG Awards 2021.


“The top accolades in this year’s Awards for will be for the Most Sustainable Companies / Organizations. These will be presented to listed companies and public sector/ not-for-profit organizations that demonstrate excellence in both CG and ESG practices, with equal weight being allocated to these two areas, as they move towards fuller integration of these two key aspects of reporting,” said Ms. Loren Tang, Chair of the Organizing Committee of the Best CG & ESG Awards 2021. 


“Companies and organizations that can integrate their CG and ESG practices and reporting from the perspectives of, e.g., organizational structure, risk management and internal control, and the shareholder/ stakeholder communication and engagement, are more likely to enjoy a long-term sustainable future,” she explained.


In December 2019, the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) released an enhancement of the Environmental Social and Governance Reporting Guide under the Listing Rules to strengthen the leadership role and accountability of company boards in relation to ESG reporting, as well as requiring more specific KPIs to be reported in both the environmental and social aspects of ESG.  The enhanced guide has taken effect for companies with financial years commencing on or after 1 July 2020.


The HKEX’s upgraded ESG Reporting Guide also notes that companies may seek independent assurance to strengthen the credibility of ESG information. In this regard, as one of the key action items in its Strategic Plan 2020-2022, the HKICPA has recently published guidance on ESG Assurance Reporting to assist members in performing assurance engagements on ESG information. The Institute aims to support members in providing independent, standards- based ESG assurance to address the needs of capital markets and serve the public interest.


“As the market demands more accurate and reliable ESG information from companies, assurance on ESG reports will become increasingly important in helping to build stakeholders’ trust in the quality of the information disclosed,” said Mr. Cheng.


To better gauge current practice, the Institute has recently initiated a brief research on the ESG assurance status of all 55 Hang Seng Index constituent companies, which published their sustainability/ ESG report or incorporated a sustainability/ ESG section in their annual report for 2020/21, as at 28 June. While 49 of them published this ESG information by the cut-off date, 23 out of 49 companies also sought external assurance on the information disclosed.


The Institute is glad to see a majority of the assurance obtained refers to ISAE 3000 (Revised), which is an international standard issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board for assurance engagements other than audits or reviews of historical financial information. This HKICPA’s guidance on ESG assurance is based on ISAE 3000 (Revised), which has been adopted and issued by the HKICPA as a local standard. 


“Reference to ISAE 3000 (Revised) shows that the companies concerned have made positive efforts to obtain assurance on their non-financial information disclosure, beyond the traditional financial statement audit. In addition, over half of the Hang Seng Index companies with assurance during the relevant period engaged an independent assurer that was not the regular auditor of their financial statements. This adds to the independence of their ESG assurance,” said Mr. Rozario.


“We will be conducting a similar research on all the December year-ended listed companies for 2020/21, and will share the finding with our members and the public in due course,” he supplemented.


Companies and organizations will continue to be judged in seven main categories, including categories for HSI companies, and other listed companies based on market capitalization, and public sector organizations based on revenue. The judging criteria look beyond the minimum statutory and regulatory requirements to identify voluntary disclosures and practices.

The revamped Awards are supported by media sponsors including Hong Kong Economic Times, The Standard and ET Net. For more details of the Awards, please visit:
















公會樂見大部分鑒證採用了《International Standard on Assurance Engagements》第3000號(經修訂)ISAE 3000,由國際審計與鑒證準則理事會就審計或審閱歷史財務資料以外的鑒證工作所頒佈的國則)。公會先前已採納ISAE 3000並頒佈為本港準則,同時以該準則為基礎編製上述ESG鑒證報告指南。

羅先生表示:「這些公司參考ISAE 3000準則,反映它們積極在傳統財務報表審計外為非財務披露尋求鑒證。另一方面,調查涵蓋的期間,超過一半已尋求ESG鑒證的恒生指數成份股公司,聘用了財務報表核數師以外的獨立鑒證人,令ESG鑒證更具獨立性。」