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Sustainability Reporting

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What is Sustainability Reporting?

Sustainability reporting enables organizations to consider their impacts on a wide range of sustainability issues. This enables them to be more transparent about the risks and opportunities they face.


Sustainability reporting is the key platform for communicating sustainability performance and impacts. A sustainability report in its basic form is a report about an organization’s environmental and social performance.


To make this reporting be as useful as possible for managers, executives, analysts, shareholders and stakeholders. A unified standard that allows reports to be quickly assessed, fairly judged and simply compared is a critical asset. As firms worldwide have embraced sustainability reporting, the most widely adopted framework has been the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Reporting Framework. It can be considered as synonymous with other terms for non-financial reporting; triple bottom line reporting and corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting.


Building and maintaining trust in businesses and governments is fundamental to achieving a sustainable economy and world. Every day, decisions are made by businesses and governments which have direct impacts on their stakeholders, such as financial institutions, labor organizations, civil society and citizens, and the level of trust they have with them. These decisions are rarely based on financial information alone. They are based on an assessment of risk and opportunity using information on a wide variety of immediate and future issues.


The value of the sustainability reporting process is that it ensures organizations consider their impacts on these sustainability issues, and enables them to be transparent about the risks and opportunities they face.
Stakeholders also play a crucial role in identifying these risks and opportunities for organizations, particularly those that are non-financial. This increased transparency leads to better decision making, which helps build and maintain trust in businesses and governments.


Better reputation
A 2011 survey on corporate reputation found that expanding transparency and reporting positive deeds were the two most important ways to build public trust in business. The 2013 Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and EY survey revealed that more than 50% of respondents issuing sustainability reports stated that those reports helped improve firm reputation.


Meeting the expectations of employees
Employees are a vital audience for reporting on sustainability. They are the primary audience for the presentation of the reporting as it contributes to an increase in employee retention and loyalty. This, in turn, positively impacts the workforce as a whole, which ultimately leads to better performances.


Improved access to capital

Reporting firms rank highly for sustainability and have Kaplan-Zingales Index scores that are 0.6 lower than the scores for low-sustainability companies. A lower score signifies fewer capital constraints.


Increased efficiency and waste reduction
Reporting helps make  organizations’ decision-making processes more efficient and in turn, this enables them to reduce risk all over their supply chain and in the process reduce waste which leads to huge cost savings.

Benefits of Sustainability Reporting

Internal benefits for companies and organizations can include:

  • Increased understanding of risks and opportunities
  • Emphasizing the link between financial and non-financial performance
  • Influencing long term management strategy and policy, and business plans
  • Streamlining processes, reducing costs and improving efficiency
  • Benchmarking and assessing sustainability performance with respect to laws, norms, codes, performance standards, and voluntary initiatives
  • Avoiding being implicated in publicized environmental, social and governance failures
  • Comparing performance internally, and between organizations and sectors


External benefits can include:

  • Mitigating negative environmental, social and governance impacts
    Improving reputation and brand loyalty
  • Enabling external stakeholders to understand the organization’s true value, and tangible and intangible assets
  • Demonstrating how the organization influences, and is influenced by, expectations about sustainable development

Examples of Sustainability Reports

Here is a collection of sustainability reports of different companies and organizations from various sectors and industries.

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