Monday, September 03, 2007

The Economist asks whats ahead in '08 for sustainability reporting

I was quite honored this week when a reporter from The Economist contacted me to ask what I thought might be coming down the line for sustainability reporting in 2008. They are gearing up for their "Year Ahead: 2008" annual issue to be released in the next few weeks and I think its a great sign that they were researching sustainability reporting. Researching it doesn't mean that the topic will actually make it into the issue - but I still took it as a great sign!

Here was how I responded when asked for my perspective on interesting developments for 2008:

• The rise of sustainability reporting through supply chains. GRI is working with four multinationals right now as they roll out reporting among suppliers in ‘high risk’ emerging markets – ie. places where human rights, environment, corruption, or product responsibility issue are prone to arising mainly due to lack of legislation or enforcement in certain countries – reporting is one way for global companies to have more control and confidence in the conduct of their suppliers – which they are being called to account by investors and consumers. We will see a marked increase in B2B reporting and smaller enterprise reporting due to information demands in the supply chain in 2008.

• A marked increase in reports out of Russia and India to combat negative assumptions in the international community about corruption, labor standards, governance practices, and environmental impacts. Early movers, such as Jubilant Organisys in India, have been rewarded for reporting on these issues by being able to attract international capital and by being competitive in international acquisitions. This is helping to set the stage for others to follow.

• The US responsible investment community has mounted a campaign to increase the quantity and quality of sustainability information available for data analysis and decision making. Their goal is to have all 100 of the S&P 100 reporting based on the GRI Guidelines by 2008, if they achieve this they will move on to the S&P 500 by 2011. As per early 2007 they had noted a 20% increase in S&P company GRI reporting – accounting for about 50% of the S&P 100. At this rate they will achieve their ambitious goal of all 100 S&P companies issuing GRI reports by end of next year.

• XBRL on the rise? The financial reporting community has been toying with XBRL as a way to exchange data for the past few years, interest at the SEC is helping to fuel this – the GRI Guidelines are now available in this format. Will this have an impact on the volume, accessibility, comparability, and demand for information in the marketplace in 2008?

• Climate change and human rights emerging as main stream agenda issues that companies are expected to be doing something positive about. Accountability, transparency and reporting on these issues will become expected and will drive increased numbers of reports issued in 2008.


Kathryn Alexander/Ethical Impact L3C said...

My concern is that we are still not measuring the right things, nor are we understanding the point of all of these measures. The intent is good, but it still gets translated into cost reduction and consumer response. The understanding and need to shift business practices to mimic natural processes, for business to act like the Earth and CREATE THE CONDITIONS THAT SUPPORT LIFE is never mentioned nor realized. It is THIS shift we need to measure. Our work at Ethical Impact L3C uses values evoked from natural law to help better assess this issues. I can only hope that GRI will awaken and follow suite.

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The rise of sustainability reporting through supply chains.It is one of the most important things reporters have to know!

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the problem with this reporting, is that expert can't calculate the exact number of consumist rate, and the increase of the same.