December 2013

Sustainability Reporting Trends and Implications

Posted in Implementation and Integration

Sustainability reporting has evolved considerably since 2000 when the first voluntary international standard for sustainability reporting was published. This report reviews global sustainability reporting trends, some of which are in the very early stages, to reveal opportunities for organizations seeking to be leaders in accountability and transparency and to enhance their practices in this area.

Sustainability reporting trends profiled in this report include:

  • Quantity and Quality of Reporting
  • Reporting Standards
  • Materiality
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Integrated Reporting
  • Third Party Assurance
  • Data Quality
  • Frequency of Reporting
  • Multiple Reporting Channels and Formats
  • Multi-media Features
  • Board Oversight

Implications of sustainability reporting trends for reporting organizations include:

  • Leading sustainability reporters will continue to use the GRI guidelines and will experiment with integrated reporting.
  • Best practice reporters will need to demonstrate good practices in materiality and stakeholder engagement.
  • Best practice reporters may wish to further understand the opportunities and implications of different assurance options and consider a phased approach to move towards third party external verification.
  • Reporters who have not adopted an information platform for non-financial reporting may benefit from investigating options – from embedment into existing financial information systems, to stand-alone sustainability information systems.
  • Best practice reporters may wish to consider their sustainability report as part of a broader communication approach to enhance trust, transparency, accountability and engagement with different stakeholder groups.
  • Leading organizations may wish to identify a role for the Board in sustainability reporting, particularly with respect to disclosure of data on material sustainability impacts which have been externally verified by a third party, as with audited financial statements.

This report is a useful and practical summary of sustainability reporting trends for organizations seeking to have best practices in this area.

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