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Sustainability reporting

Background

Company boards, executives, and management are investing more and more time and resources on issues of sustainability - such as carbon (greenhouse gas emissions), energy efficient technology, water use, employee engagement/matters and diversity, to name just a few. An important part of the global push towards sustainability practices involves a need to account for, and report on, sustainability - sometimes referred to as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) or corporate responsibility (CR) reporting.

On this page, we maintain a history of developments in sustainability reporting requirements and practices, tracking its gradual adoption on both a voluntary and mandatory basis.  

Organisations involved in sustainability reporting

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) promotes the use of sustainability reporting as a way for organisations to become more sustainable and contribute to a sustainable global economy. It is an international not-for-profit organisation, with a network-based structure.

GRI’s mission is to make sustainability reporting standard practice. To enable all companies and organizations to report their economic, environmental, social and governance performance, GRI produces free Sustainability Reporting Guidelines.

We have a dedicated page for the GRI.

United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI)

The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) is a global partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the financial sector. Over 190 institutions, including banks, insurers and fund managers, work with UNEP to understand the impacts of environmental and social considerations on financial performance. Through its Climate Change Working Group (CCWG), UNEP FI identifies the roles of the finance sector in addressing climate change, and advances the integration of climate change factors - both risks and opportunities - into financial decision-making. This is done through a work programme encompassing research, training, events and regional activities.

The UNEP FI website can be accessed at www.unepfi.org.

Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB)

The Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) was founded at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in 2007. CDSB is a consortium of global business and environmental organisations, including CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), CERES, The Climate Group, The Climate Registry (TCR), The International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), World Council for Business and Sustainable Development (WCBSD), World Economic Forum (WEF) and World Resources Institute (WRI).

CDSB stated mission is to "promote and advance climate change-related disclosure in mainstream reports through the development of a global framework for corporate reporting on climate change".

CDSB produces a climate change reporting reporting framework ('CDSB Framework'). Initially focused on risks and opportunities that climate change presents to an organisation's strategy, financial performance and condition, the framework is currently being expanded to included to encompass other types of environmental information related to climate change, in particular information about water and forest risk commodities.

We have a dedicated page for the CDSB.

Corporate Reporting Dialogue

The Corporate Reporting Dialogue is an initiative designed to respond to market calls for greater coherence, consistency and comparability between corporate reporting frameworks, standards and related requirements.  The Dialogue aims to:

  • Communicate about the direction, content and ongoing development of reporting frameworks, standards and related requirements
  • Identify practical ways and means by which respective frameworks, standards and related requirements can be aligned and rationalized
  • Share information, and express a common voice on areas of mutual interest, where possible, to engage key regulators.

Its participants are:

  • CDP
  • Climate Disclosure Standards Board
  • Financial Accounting Standards Board
  • Global Reporting Initiative
  • International Accounting Standards Board
  • International Integrated Reporting Council
  • International Organization for Standardization
  • Sustainability Accounting Standards Board

Further information on the Corporate Reporting Dialogue is available here.

Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)

The Financial Stability Bard (FSB) TCFD seeks to develop recommendations for voluntary climate-related financial disclosures that are consistent, comparable, reliable, clear, and efficient, and provide decision-useful information to lenders, insurers, and investors.  The Task Force will consider the physical, liability and transition risks associated with climate change and what constitutes effective financial disclosures across industries.  The work and recommendations of the Task Force will help companies understand what financial markets want from disclosure in order to measure and respond to climate change risks, and encourage firms to align their disclosures with investors’ needs.

The TCFD’s 32 members were chosen by the FSB to include both users and preparers of disclosures from across the G20’s constituency covering a broad range of economic sectors and financial markets.

Further information on the TCFD are available on the TCFD website here.

EU non-financial reporting Directive

The Strategic report is under the spotlight and is a constant area of FRC challenge. Companies within scope need to comply with the enhanced reporting under the EU non-financial reporting directive which was effective for annual reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2017.  Further information is available on our Narrative Reporting resource page.

Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 goals set out by the United Nations within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; they call for urgent collective action towards global challenges, such as hunger, unemployment and climate change. The Governments of the 191 UN Member States have committed to achieving the SDGs and businesses can help bridge the gap towards achieving the SDGs by enshrining sustainable development in their purpose and core activities. Businesses are increasingly finding that there is an inextricable link between a commitment to sustainable development and enduring commercial success.

David Cruickshank, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Deloitte Global commented on the SDGs “The UN’s Global Goals represent a historic opportunity to align the governments of the world with business and civil society to make real change by 2030. As a society, we need to make the right connections - combining the policy power of government with the convening power of civil society and resources of business - to better target and tackle obstacles to social progress. Collective action is needed to scale and drive solutions that could improve wellbeing and help society achieve inclusive growth.”

A number of resources are available to find more information and support the use of the SDGs within a business:

Correction list for hyphenation

These words serve as exceptions. Once entered, they are only hyphenated at the specified hyphenation points. Each word should be on a separate line.