The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has issued its annual report, which shows several developments in improving sustainability reporting.

GRI chief executive Ernst Ligteringen said in the report that policy and regulation "could have a big impact" on sustainability reporting, following KPMG research into the rising number of companies undertaking such work.

The KPMG research shows growing numbers of sustainability reporting companies in countries with regulation or government-led guidelines, notably the Nordic region, France, South Africa, China and India.

The GRI report also covers initiatives such as its Governmental Advisory Group and its Report or Explain Campaign Forum, where supporters of the ‘report or explain’ approach to sustainability reporting can convene.

It includes progress on the sustainability agenda at June’s UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which included the publication of paragraph 47 of the outcome document The Future We Want. That paragraph promotes transparency in business and is supported by over 200 countries including the Brazilian, Danish, French and South African governments.

Brazil’s secretary for international affairs at the Ministry of Finance, Carlos Márcio Bicalho Cozendey, said paragraph 47 made it possible "to strengthen awareness of governments" and to "create a base for a more systematic promotion and diffusion" of sustainability reporting practices.

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Other forces driving sustainability reporting are listed in the report, including stock exchange policies, listing requirements and recommendations for companies on the South African, Chinese, Malaysian and Singapore exchanges, and increasing demand for sustainability along company supply chains. KPMG’s report shows almost 60% of China’s large companies use corporate responsibility (CR) data, and 15% more African companies reported on sustainability in 2011 than in 2010.

European Rapporteur on Corporate Social Responsibility Richard Howett said work on Paragraph 47 is "not really an ‘outcome’ but a first step", with GRI’s stakeholders and this report being "vital for showing the desire for progress."

He said he was "proud" to be "driving European Union backing for this process and EU steps forward on non-financial reporting."

GRI will issue its new reporting guidelines, G4, in May 2013.

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Global Reporting Initiative