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 GC Today - 22 February 2011

Side Event

Managing what you measure

Sustainability Reporting and Indicators to manage the change to a Green Economy


Global Reporting InitiativeThe transformation to a green economy will require fundamental changes in how business is conducted in both the private and public sectors, according to speakers at the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) special event.

The two hosts, H.E. Molewa, Minister of environment and water, South Africa, and Paolo Soprano, Vice-Chair, Preparatory Committee UNCSD 2012 stressed the importance of sustainability reporting as a tool that makes possible to measure and verify improvements towards green economy, paving the way to sustainability development. They both appreciated the work of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).

GRI, a UNEP Collaborating Centre, provides the world’s most widely-used framework for producing sustainability reports. The Sustainability Reporting Framework lets large companies and SMEs (small and medium enterprises), non-profit organizations and government bodies worldwide assess their sustainability performance and report on the results. Transparency through reporting on economic, environmental, social and governance factors drives the sustainability of individual organizations and, ultimately, the global economy.


According to Mr. Ebenezer Olufowose, Executive Director, Financial Markets Division, Access Bank Plc, Nigeria, there is no doubt about the business case for reporting and including environmental, social and governance concerns into the business considerations: transparency reinforces trust and therefore brand.

There are currently over 4,500 sustainability reports listed on databases, from companies worldwide. There is a business case for reporting for the company, but the full added value of sustainability reporting for the global environment and society depends on the critical mass of companies that report on their impacts.

It is now needed to shift from ‘why do you report’ (business case) to ‘why don’t you report’: companies should explain why they have chosen not to report on their impacts on the environment and society, why have they chosen to fly blind.

Mr. Cornis van der Lugt, UNEP, recalled the outcomes of “Carrots and Sticks” a publication of UNEP, KPMG, GRI and Stellenbosch University. The publication highlighted the increasing role for the governments in their regulatory role, to ensure a minimum level of disclosure and risk prevention and the emerging emphasis on a combination of (complementary) voluntary and mandatory approaches. This contributes to the mainstreaming of sustainability reporting.

Only mainstreamed sustainability reporting can make a true difference and help the transition to a green economy, paving the way to sustainability development. Governments can facilitate this change calling for the transparency of the private sector: asking companies to report or, if they do not, explain why concluded Ernst Ligteringen. Time is ripe and Rio+20 conference is an opportunity that cannot be missed.