What Are the Future Corporate Reporting Trends?

corporate reporting

by | Feb 9, 2017

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corporate reportingClimate change, and its related business risks, is a key future corporate sustainability reporting trend, according to a report from the Global Reporting Initiative and advisory firm SustainAbility.

The report consolidates insights from the GRI Corporate Leadership Group on Reporting 2025, a group of 13 companies, and provides guidance to reporting organizations on four sustainability reporting trends: climate change, human rights, wealth inequality, and data and technology.

It says there was clear consensus in the group that it is not a matter of if business should or can act on climate change but how, and how fast they deliver change. They are expected to be part of the solutions, from new energy models to efficiencies in the production and distribution of goods.

The report says businesses should set science-based targets, and suggests greater company engagement is expected following the Paris climate agreement.

The 13 companies also agreed that when it comes to corporate reporting, data and technology are often seen as an opportunity and a challenge in equal measure.

Challenges include securing sufficient internal buy-in; promoting the culture and creating awareness for good use of the internal systems that deliver high-quality, comparable data; lack of availability of sensitive and confidential data; and a need for more analytical tools to better understand data.

Opportunities include online reporting; embedding sustainability data into targets and performance management systems; monitoring and providing feedback loops to data providers; and better understanding the dynamics and other demands on the data to improve the information channels and lower the burden for colleagues.

The GRI report follows a report published in December by the G20’s Financial Stability Board that said corporations should disclose the financial impacts of climate change on their business and how they are managing these risks. The Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures report outlines a set of voluntary recommendations for companies to include in their public financial filings.

The global cost of climate change impacts will reach between $2 trillion and $4 trillion by 2030, according to estimates by the International Finance Corporation and Carbon Trust.

Two other corporate disclosure and reporting organizations, CDP and the International Integrated Reporting Council, recently responded to the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures’ recommendations.

CDP, which says it is “fully supportive of the TCFD recommendations and has already committed to adopt them in their entirety,” also says the climate disclosure recommendations — which are voluntary — should be mandatory.

CDP also suggests the task force give companies clearer guidance about how to measure climate performance. “The TCFD references a number of frameworks and metrics that align with their recommendations,” CDP writes. “Providing such a broad and diverse set could lead to issues of comparability. We would recommend more prescriptive direction to companies. The recommendations do not outline a pathway for companies or investors to track and benchmark performance or address measurement, for example SBTs (Science Based Targets) or carbon pricing or provide year on year comparability.”

The International Integrated Reporting Council also says it “welcomes the recommendation that companies should integrate their risk management in the face of the threat of climate change.”


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