August 6, 2021 - 5 minutes read

Sustainability Reporting

By Acha Ouma

Sustainability emerges as one of the most acceptable corporate social responsibilities. As this is the case, the reporting of only the positive and negative developments in financial indicators are not sufficient for investors and stakeholders. It is becoming more and more common to have investors and stakeholders concerned about the sustainability practices of companies that they group with. This means that further than just being involved in sustainability projects, companies must emphasize on their commitment through reporting.

To make companies’ operations more sustainable, they must establish a set of goals, measure performance and manage change. The first step is choosing a reporting framework that best suits their business model. Sustainability reporting makes organizations set the right priorities to help them towards achieving environmental and social impact goals by exposing both positive and negative impacts on the environment, society as well as the economy.

What are the options that are available for sustainability reporting?
The most widely accepted sustainability reporting standard is the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) which has been the pioneer of sustainability reporting since 1997. It is implemented through an up to date methodology that reduces reporting down to economic, environmental and social dimensions which are the three pillars of sustainability. These standards are designed to be all round applicable to all organizations and sectors across the globe. Whether your company is big or small you can go for the GRI standards to report your company’s sustainability efforts.

Another framework that businesses can use to report on sustainability is the Principles for Responsible Investments (PRI). This standard has support from the United Nations and is the world’s leading mover of responsible investment. How does this framework work and what is the deal with investors? 

PRI helps in the better understanding of investment implications of environmental, social and governance factors to support its international network of investor signatories in incorporating these factors into their investment & ownership decisions. Further than that, it supports responsible investment in a manner that enhances returns & helps to manage risks better. 

Other than these, there are other different types of frameworks that businesses can use to report on their sustainability efforts including those by the World Economic Forum, International Business Council, The Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures(TCFD), the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board(SASB), International Organization for Standardization(ISO), United Nations Global Compact(UNGC) and the International Integrated Reporting Council(IICRC) etc. 

The benefits of the sustainability reporting process and the reports themselves includes: 

  • Setting improvement targets which turn into drive efficiencies. 
  • Encouraging the companies to develop strategies for the long term.
  • Stakeholder engagement which leads to collaborations among other benefits.

Sustainability reports have a different methodology as compared to other reports. In order for the report to bring the maximum benefit for both the company and the stakeholders, it is important that the departments/employees that draft such reports attend training on sustainability reporting. This will ensure that the published output is prepared in line with the said methodology and will distinguish it from other sustainability reports in the market.

Companies and regulators should continue to raise awareness of sustainability and the benefits of sustainability reporting. Industry leaders should provide momentum for sustainability reporting by reporting themselves and encouraging their partners to report.

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