Sustainability reporting is the act of disclosing the environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies of an organization, and the impact these policies have on both internal performance and on wider society.
Sustainability reporting standards
Over the past decades, many initiatives have started to focus on better disclosure by companies. One of the main sustainability reporting standards was developed by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), an independent organization founded in the US in 1997 and now headquartered in Amsterdam. It lists 36 standards that companies should try to meet, ranging from its carbon footprint, waste and effect on biodiversity (E) to occupational health and safety, non-discrimination and local rights (S), and policies for anti-corruption, competitive practices and tax payments (G). GRI standards have now been adopted in 90 countries, though not all 36 items will be applicable on a case-by-case basis.
Other organizations offer more bespoke reporting standards and services for client members. These include the Carbon Disclosure Project, which encourages companies to calculate their environmental impact and has various tools to facilitate this. Of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) has a specific target, 12.6, which encourages companies “to adopt sustainable practices and sustainability reporting".