South Africa releases integrated reporting guidelines

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27 Jan 2011

The Integrated Reporting Committee' (IRC) of South Africa has released for comment a Discussion Paper Framework for Integrated Reporting and the Integrated Report.

In February 2010, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), through its Listings Requirements, made it compulsory for all listed companies to comply with the King Code of Governance Principles for South Africa 2009 ("King III"), which includes the requirement for a company to produce an integrated report for its financial year starting on and after 1 March 2010, or to explain why it was not doing so. The IRC was established in May 2010 to develop guidelines on good practice in integrated reporting in meeting these requirements.

The IRC Discussion Paper is designed to provide principles and guidance on the creation of an integrated report. It discusses the key reporting principles (scope, boundaries, content), suggested elements to be included in the integrated report and assurance on reported information.

An extract from the Discussion Paper follows:

"... the overarching objective of integrated reporting is to enable stakeholders to assess the ability of an organisation to create and sustain value over the short-, medium- and long-term. The users of an organisation's integrated report should be able to determine from the report whether the organisation's governing structure has sufficiently applied its collective mind in identifying the social, environmental, economic and financial issues that impact on the organisation's business, and whether these issues have been appropriately incorporated into its strategy.

An integrated report is not simply an amalgamation of the financial statements and the sustainability report. It incorporates, in clear language, material information from these and other sources to enable stakeholders to evaluate the organisation's performance and to make an informed assessment about its ability to create and sustain value. An integrated report should provide stakeholders with a concise overview of an organisation, integrating and connecting important information about strategy, risks and opportunities and relating them to social, environmental, economic and financial issues."

The International Integrated Reporting Committee (IIRC), formed in July 2010, also aims to issue an international discussion paper later in 2011 and include integrated reporting on the agenda of the G20 meeting in November 2011. However, the urgent need for guidance in South Africa has seen the issue of the Discussion Paper in advance of global initiatives, and may be a useful indicator of what may emerge globally.

The Discussion Paper is open for comment until 25 April 2011. Click for press release (link to Sustainability SA website, Word document).

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