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SCMP: A new certification course will be launched in Hong Kong focusing on the environmental, social and governance (ESG) requirements of the city’s bourse operator to ensure the quality of local practitioners.

The Chamber of Hong Kong Listed Companies (CHKLC) has developed the ESG Certified Professional Examination with the aim of creating a recognised qualification for individuals. It will determine the candidates’ level of competency in ESG, specifically meeting the requirements of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX).

The course also aims to increase the supply of accredited ESG talent to meet the needs of the market, as well as to promote the continuous development of personnel to help listed companies meet the changing needs of the society and the environment, according to a flier of the examination obtained by the Post.

“[The exam] will help the ESG market to become more professional,” said Mike Wong, CEO of the chamber, in an exclusive interview. “The exam will measure how proficient and knowledgeable the ESG practitioners are in applying the rules and regulations of the exchange.”

He added that this will be the first public rules-based examination in Hong Kong incorporating the latest updates to the HKEX’s ESG disclosure framework.

Last month, the HKEX published conclusions to its consultation on enhancing climate-related disclosures under its ESG framework. The new requirements were introduced in alignment with climate standards from the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), which was set up during the COP26 global climate summit in Glasgow in 2021 to consolidate various reporting standards. The ISSB released its finalised standards in June last year.
Different countries have their own scope and timeline to implement the ISSB standards, according to Dennis Wu, CEO of Allied Environmental Consultants (AEC) Group, a partner of the exam.

“[As] this examination is Hong Kong-based, Hong Kong-listed companies can use it to establish their standards and quality for professionals,” said Wu, who is also an ESG committee member of CHKLC.

The exam will test practitioners’ abilities and capacities to see whether they need to improve their knowledge so that they can adequately fulfil the HKEX’s requirements, he said.

The exam’s syllabus is based on publicly available HKEX information, with a focus on the bourse operator’s ESG reporting requirements and compliance, according to the flier.

The syllabus also includes public information from the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, set up by the Basel-based Financial Stability Board in 2015 to develop guidelines for voluntary climate-related financial disclosures across industries, as well as the non-profit climate action group Science Based Targets Initiatives and ISSB.
The first batch of 300 participants will sit for the exam on July 13, with exams held every quarter. Registrations open on June 21.

The exam fee is HK$1,000 (US$128) for members of supporting organisations, which include the Hong Kong Investor Relations Association and the Hong Kong Association of Registered Public Interest Entity Auditors. The fee for other candidates is HK$1,300.

The computer-based examination will have 60 multiple choice questions that have to be completed in 90 minutes. Individuals will have to score at least 80 per cent to be awarded the status of ESG Certified Professional by the chamber.

The Vocational Training Council’s Institute of Professional Education and Knowledge will serve as the examination operator, while think tank Civic Exchange is the research partner.

The AEC’s ESG Academy will provide a six-hour preparation course for HK$2,000, covering the syllabus with some sample questions.

The examination is targeted at professionals serving listed companies, as well as independent non-executive directors, directors and employees, said Wu.

 

Originally published on SCMP on 30 May 2024.