Report on Business Sustainability Reporting Highlights Need to Accelerate Pace
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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According to the publication from WBCSD and the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB), reporting practices of EU countries demonstrate that political and economic consistency has helped bring alignment to corporate sustainability reporting.

National contexts and economic factors must always be considered when developing reporting requirements, the report finds.

14 May 2018: The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) have published data from the Reporting Exchange that analyzes differences in environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting between sectors, market maturity levels and national contexts. The report titled, ‘Insights from the Reporting Exchange: National, regional and international developments,’ emphasizes that while sustainability reporting is moving in the right direction, it needs to move faster.The report shows the ways in which the Reporting Exchange, an online platform that connects information on sustainability reporting requirements and resources, enables an analysis of corporate reporting practices of countries and regions, as well as of different sectors and industries. It explores underlying issues that have contributed to the complexity of sustainability reporting, and discusses key themes emerging from the research.

The report describes how approaches to reporting in Costa Rica, South Africa and China show the importance of the national context in shaping sustainability reporting as it becomes the “new normal.” For example, Costa Rica’s Social Responsibility Policy (2017-2030) focuses on transparency and good governance, with an emphasis on corporate reporting by the largest public and private companies. The country also aims to integrate the SDGs into business practices. In China, the authors find, corporate sustainability reporting has grown rapidly in recent years, and the country has the second-largest number of sustainability reporting provisions on the Reporting Exchange.

Environmental and governance issues are emphasized differently depending on the level of economic development, the report finds.

The publication explains that comparing the reporting environments of developed and emerging economies shows both alignment and divergence. It argues for continuing efforts to integrate sustainability information and metrics into mainstream reporting practices, especially in emerging economies. The report shows differences in the maturity, complexity and coverage of corporate reporting provisions across countries, depending on the level of economic development and other factors. Differences relate to the emphasis on environmental versus governance issues, and the means by which companies report ESG information.

The report also looks at the agriculture and natural resource sectors to illustrate the importance of tailoring reporting to specific sectors. The study includes reporting provisions of the ten countries with the largest percentage of total GDP from the agriculture sector, and the ten countries with the largest percentage of total GDP from natural resource sectors. While agriculture and resource extraction are critical for these countries’ economies, the report notes that only a small percentage of reporting provisions by these countries focus on these sectors.

In addition, the study shows that reporting practices of EU countries demonstrate that political and economic consistency has helped bring alignment to corporate sustainability reporting. The report concludes that national contexts and economic factors must always be considered when developing reporting requirements.

The report is part of a series that looks at trends in corporate sustainability reporting emerging from the research behind the Reporting Exchange, and shows how the Exchange can be used as a tool to bring clarity to reporting. [WBCSD news] [Report webpage] [Publication: Insights from the Reporting Exchange: National, Regional and International Developments] [Reporting Exchange]

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