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June 4, 2013

UN takes a ‘report or explain’ approach on sustainability reporting

The United Nations (UN) High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda has proposed a ‘report or explain’ approach on corporate sustainability reporting.

The UN panel, co-chaired by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, has proposed that by 2030 all large businesses should be reporting on their environmental and social impact or explain why they are not doing so.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and PwC UK have both responded to the UN’s panel proposed approach.

GRI chief executive Ernst Ligteringen described this as "a welcome move in the right direction," but added "it does not go far enough.""There is an urgent need to make sustainability information more widely available and accessible in order to allow markets and society, as well as policymakers, to take informed decisions," he said.

Ligteringen pointed to a number of stakeholders, including companies, and bodies such as GRI and the UN Global Compact (UNCG) as examples of entities that have developed a body of good practise on sustainability reporting since the end of the 1990s.

Whilst Ligteringen said that GRI had a vision that all large companies around the world would produce sustainability reports by 2015, rather than 2030, the GRI’s response concluded that "GRI welcomes this positive international development."

PwC partner Celine Herweijer, meanwhile, focused on the report’s shift to moving "beyond aid," with an emphasis on building economies that attract trade over humanitarian assistance.

"There are strong commercial imperatives for business to move towards reporting on a wider social, environmental and development agenda, alongside traditional financial performance measures," Herweijer said.

Related link

High-level Panel of eminent persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Global Reporting Initiative

PwC UK

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