Thursday, 31 December 2009

Companies in developing countries among leaders in climate change reporting

As world leaders and their team of negotiators in Copenhagen worked towards a last-minute deal to agree the best way to reduce carbon emissions, it became clear that at least one influential group is understanding the impact of business activity and climate change.

A joint news release by GRI and ACCA, issued on December 10 - the day that we launched our report “High Impact Sectors: the Challenge of Reporting on Climate Change” at Copenhagen - has received significant media coverage around the world.

That may be not least because our four-part report shows how companies in developing countries are among leaders in climate change reporting. While less than half of companies studied at a global level, disclosed specific climate change-related information using GRI indicators in their company’s sustainability reports, the report does reveal that companies from Brazil, China, India and South Africa are shown to be particularly strong in reporting on climate change policies, strategies, governance and risks. They also lead the way in having in place emissions targets, measurement procedures, and mitigation and adaptation plans.

If the media and the developing economies understand the importance of reporting emissions in an effective way, it surely cannot be too much of a leap for leaders of the developed world to ‘get it’.

The report can be downloaded from this link:

Steve Priddy, Director of Technical Policy and Research, ACCA.

Monday, 14 December 2009

A love-hate relationship

I have a love-hate relationship with sustainability reports.

I am a process guy, and I appreciate the rigor behind reporting:

1. Identify critical issues by engaging external people;
2. Set up a vision of your industry in a just and sustainable world;
3. Build processes that help you deliver your strategy;
4. Set ambitious, credible targets;
5. Monitor progress;

… et voilĂ , overtime your sustainability performance should improve, to the benefit of your bottom line.

Yet there are times when reporting drives me up the wall:
• A sustainability strategy that exists only in the head of sustainability specialists,
• Robust articulation of incremental innovation strategy, when the whole industry needs a re-think,
• Trivial metrics that reflect data availability rather than critical information.

I am all too aware that my theoretical approach does not always pan out.

I also have a hard time with the abundance of rankings and popularity votes, serving a small community of reporting experts. That’s why I am involved in the second edition of the Reader’s Choice Award. We start with basic reporting questions (perception of reporting, use of report, credibility) and ask readers for examples that best illustrate what they value (the infamous popularity vote).

Not only do we check these results with reporters’ initial goals, three of us also spend a lot of time dissecting the results. This extra layer of analysis provided by Futerra, KPMG and SustainAbility will result in robust commentaries on the state of reporting, for better or for worse.

So spread the word! The more participants the better.

JP Renaut,
Program Manager,