Beyond Reports: The Value of Sustainability Information in a Changing World

Participants in the latest GCNC webinar, hosted on March 26, 2015, titled Beyond Reports: the Value of Sustainability Information in a Changing World, were treated to glimpse into the future of sustainability reporting and its application in policy and decision making.

The GCNC was pleased to welcome the Chief Executive of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Michael Meehan and Bastian Buck, Director of Reporting Standards. Together, they discussed the importance of sustainability reporting and GRI’s role as a standard setter and a launch pad for innovation. value of sustainability information

Michael began by explaining that while the GRI is not an advocacy group, they do advocate for transparency, accountability and risk minimization. Michael pointed out that issues such as human rights, climate change and globalization need to be addressed from a risk management perspective, and every business, organization and government needs to consider the impact of these risks. value of sustainability information

GRI’s G4 reporting guidelines help organizations to understand and communicate risks around important issues. Harnessing data, discovering opportunities and putting risks into context allows for a holistic view on how these issues affect a company. Ultimately, the reporting process is a strategic exercise in understanding both risks and opportunities.

Considering that this year the international climate negotiations will conclude, Michael Meehan used the issue of climate change to illustrate the comprehensive nature of reporting: “climate change is more than just carbon and energy, it affects many interconnected areas, including human rights, water etc. The GRI reporting process gives organizations and policy makers the ability to connect the dots between all of these disparate areas within their organizations.”

Businesses don’t operate in a bubble and reporting should not exist in isolation. Bastian Buck summarized the focus of a G4 report explaining that, “reports under G4 should focus on what matters, where it matters; they promote a focus on those areas where the organization has key impacts.” value of sustainability information

While the reporting itself is important, the value of a report isn’t only in the report itself, but rather how that report is used to drive policy and decision making. Moving forward, GRI will continue to evolve as a standard setter; moreover, they will not rate, judge or index an organization’s policy, but will focus on providing a platform for companies to assess their progress. By leaning on their extensive database, collaborating with recognized leaders and identifying good practices GRI aims to continue to provide a meaningful and practical framework for sustainability reporting and ultimately decision making in our changing world.