What is the future for environmental reporting?

What is the future for environmental reporting?

    By Colleen Theron, Environmental Solicitor and Consultant.

There is increasing debate about the future of environmental reporting. This was the focus at the recent GRI Amsterdam Global Conference on Sustainability and Transparency, where leaders in the sustainability sector spent two days looking at the challenge of financial and non- financial reporting.  A key theme was the recognition that the current reporting standards were inadequate, and that there is a need to reform financial reporting, so that investors have a clear sense of the financial risks that a company faces.

Whilst the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has provided the cornerstone of the GRI Sustainability Reporting Framework  (and has recently been updated to include Community Indicators, Human Rights Indicators and Content and Materiality) , the question of whether a new framework for integrated reporting should be  developed was widely discussed.

The growth in mandatory Corporate Responsibility Reporting is an apparent shift towards closing the gap between financial and non financial reporting. However, the call for an integrated reporting is now gathering momentum and led to the establishment of the International Integrated Reporting Committee. Developments in South Africa, where the Johannesburg Stock Exchange is requiring listed companies to provide integrated reporting from 1 June 2010 is seen as key step towards integrated reporting.

The move towards greater transparency and more  integrated reporting is driving new rules, regulation and sustainability objectives, but the inconvenient truth is that most companies, and this includes the majority of law firms, are not taking a proactive approach to managing sustainability.

2010 is the year of the Tiger in China. The animal represents turbulence, but also energy, strength, courage and power. The shift in the world’s trading conditions and the challenge of climate change, means that these four characteristics will be much in demand for business tackling the new global transparency, accountability and sustainability strategies. But can law firms and business change their stripes?