The ASEAN-Korea Centre hosted a forum in Seoul on November 21, with ASEAN and South Korean delegations engaging in discussions on navigating environmental, social and governance (ESG) challenges within evolving international trade dynamics. 

The forum also saw the launch of the guidebook ESG Practices in ASEAN and Korea: Pathways Towards Sustainability.

Participants delved into ESG policies and advancements within ASEAN and Korea, emphasising the potential of ESG cooperation to enhance trade, investment and market access for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Specialists from both sides gave presentations on various topics to address the complexities of ESG issues.

The focal point of the forum was the role of ESG in the integration and development of ASEAN at the regional level. Experts shared insights on ASEAN taxonomy, ESG initiatives and the development of corporate sustainability agendas in ASEAN for a sustainable supply chain. 

Discussions extended to ESG practices and strategies which are tailored for SMEs, aiming to overcome challenges in sustainability reporting and facilitate green development for ASEAN SMEs.

Experts also examined the role of ESG as a key facilitator for a sustainable ASEAN- South Korea partnership. Emphasis was placed on strengthening SMEs’ capacity for a green transition, ensuring enhanced access to climate finance. 

The discussions also touched upon current trends and ESG issues, outlining pathways for South Korean SMEs to thrive in a shifting business environment. 

The forum also addressed ASEAN- South Korea cooperation in building sustainable supply chains, shedding light on ESG practices employed by South Korean and global companies in ASEAN, along with the associated opportunities and challenges. 

“The significance of the ASEAN-Korea ESG guidebook and forum lies in the initiation of cooperation,” said ASEAN-Korea Centre secretary general Kim Hae-yong. 

“Our commitment to ESG cooperation will broaden, fostering trade and investment across diverse industries, thereby bolstering the ASEAN-South Korea partnership,” he added.

As an integral component of a two-year initiative launched by the ASEAN-Korea Centre in 2022, the forum was held in collaboration with the Asia School of Business ASEAN Research Centre (Malaysia), the ASEAN Centre of the Asiatic Research Institute of Korea University and the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency.

The project’s objective is to produce a comprehensive report examining the existing landscape of ESG in both ASEAN and South Korea. This report will illuminate ESG policies and practices within each country and their respective industries.