Seeking Return on ESG: Advancing the Reporting Ecosystem to Unlock Impact for Business and Society

Source: , 24 January 2019

A new white paper captures the findings of an extensive consultation process, uncovering opportunities for collective action between the complex and diverse set of stakeholder groups that influence ESG reporting, and highlighting where greater action is needed to accelerate system-level progress.  The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) welcomes this publication of the World Economic Forum (WEF) white paper, ‘Seeking Return on ESG: Advancing the Reporting Ecosystem to Unlock Impact for Business and Society’, today (Thursday 24 January), in which the IIRC has been a partner.

The consensus behind the 80 bodies – including WEF Managing Director Richard Samans – that came together to form the IIRC, was the urgent need to build a holistic ecosystem based on the concept of value creation, truly integrating financial and non-financial information.

The new White Paper highlights the two year-project to align major sustainability frameworks with financial reporting convened by the International Integrated Reporting Council, as a major effort to bring greater clarity, comparability and coherence to the reporting landscape for multi-capital or environmental, social governance (ESG) data.

Commenting from Davos on the release of this white paper, IIRC CEO Richard Howitt said, “What we have witnessed at Davos this year, is a clear indication that investors are increasingly taking multi-capital, ESG information seriously – looking at it integrated with financial information.

“However, as this report indicates, investors and businesses alike continue to find that the reporting landscape is confused – meaning report users are struggling to truly understand the future viability and sustainable development potential of an organization through the information currently provided.

“We welcome the support this white paper gives to the IIRC-led ‘Better Alignment Project’ launched in late 2018 as a means of building a more aligned reporting landscape and commit to working with partners including the WEF as this project develops.”

In November 2018, participants of the Corporate Reporting Dialogue – which is convened by the IIRC – announced a ground-breaking two-year project, bringing together the major players in the corporate reporting field to drive better coherence and clarity in the reporting landscape – with the ultimate goal of integrating ESG and financial information.

The continued voluntary uptake of integrated reporting in 70 countries around the world indicates that markets now believe that businesses must communicate holistically – across financial, manufactured, social, natural, human and intellectual information.