WASHINGTON, D.C. | June 28, 2021 — On June 15th, National Whistleblower Center (NWC) and Whistleblowing International (WI) submitted comments to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in response to the Commission’s March 15th, 2021 call for public comment. The letter addresses Question 9, which centers on the global harmonization of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting standards and whether the SEC should take other countries’ approaches to ESG regulation into consideration in their own rulemaking. Question 9 asks about the advantages and disadvantages of developing a single set of global standards applicable to companies around the world.
In the comment, NWC and WI note that the SEC has a major opportunity to take the lead as European efforts to hold companies accountable for ESG commitments have yet to incorporate meaningful whistleblower protections. Whistleblower protections are essential to any effective oversight mechanism. The SEC whistleblower program is a prime example of the value whistleblowers bring to enforcement activities, and the global reach these whistleblowers can have when they are guaranteed protections.
NWC and WI recommend that the SEC complement its effective whistleblower laws with strong ESG reporting requirements that would empower whistleblowers to report violations under related global standards. Using examples like the Volkswagen emissions scandal, the comment highlights that deceptive reporting is in fact an issue that needs to be addressed globally. NWC currently engages heavily with partners in the E.U. and around the world to advance the rights of whistleblower regardless of where they reside. This comment is part of NWC’s Climate Campaign, and the only comment submitted to the SEC that was authored by an international NGO exclusively committed to whistleblower rights.
NWC Executive Director Siri Nelson said, “Whistleblower protections are the best option for combating climate crimes and climate-related disclosure fraud across the world. We are so grateful to collaborate with Whistleblowing International and bring these critical insights to the SEC. This comment is made possible by the prominent role the SEC plays worldwide in large part due to the agency’s exemplary Whistleblower Program, and we hope it triggers a broader conversation about how the standards the SEC sets set the standard for the world.”
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