Communicating sustainability – the way-markers from 2015

BY:
Alex Nichol

It’s a fast-paced, sexy vibe out there in the funky world of sustainability reporting and management! Let’s have a summary of recent developments at the WBCSD, GRI, WFE and others.

Top of our list of cool cues in reporting is the rather racy World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD): they’ve released the 2015 edition of Reporting Matters

What does it show?

  • 62% of the leading companies have improved their disclosures on sustainability risk and opportunity information since the first WBCSD report, 2013
  • ‘Materiality disclosures’ (the process to prioritise what matters to your business and stakeholders) show the greatest improvement
  • More companies are reporting on impacts beyond their direct operations
  • GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) guidelines remain the most widely used
  • And 26% of companies combined their financial and ‘non-financial’ (i.e., sustainability, etc.) reporting into annual reports or self-declared integrated reports; nearly half of these refer to the International Integrated Reporting Framework.

Looking to refresh your dinner party invite list? Another set of new arrivals in 2015 included the Human Rights Reporting and Assurance Framework Initiative (RAFI), the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) Reporting Framework, the issuing of standards for four industries by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the SDG Compass

The Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB) is a real party-animal founded to strengthen GRI’s role and credibility as a public standard-setter. It has approved plans to move the GRI G4 Guidelines to become a tasty set of GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards (‘GRI Standards’). What does this mean?

  • They plan a new modular structure and format that will embrace the existing G4 content
  • The GSSB will no longer issue ‘generations’ of Guidelines (G2, G3, G4 etc.)
  • GRI Standards will be updated on an ongoing basis following public input
  • The initial set of GRI Standards should be out in Q3 2016

Also, the World Federation of Exchanges has issued guidelines for its member exchanges on how to implement its sustainability policies. The guidelines identify key environmental, social, and governance metrics that stock exchanges can include in their disclosure guidance for listed companies. In fact our friends at Paia Consulting in Singapore are rolling out a Toolkit to simplify the reporting process (for SMEs), in line with SGX’s Guidelines on producing sustainability reports.

Finally, another very fetching body, FEE, updates us on the EU Directive on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information that amends existing accounting legislation to increase the relevance, consistency and comparability of information disclosed. The expected date it comes into force in EU Member States is autumn 2016. Companies might be required to publish their first reports for the year 2017. 

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Author: Alex Nichol

Alex Nichols, Senior Sustainability Reporting Consultant, Director ANCL and Associate Director Paia Consulting. Alex works with AB on reporting projects. To take advantage of AB’s support based on over 10 years of reporting experience, along with our specialist reporting associates, then please do get in touch.

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