Norwegian companies urged to disclose their sustainability performance

Source: Global Reporting Initiative, 1 February 2009

The Norwegian government has launched its first national white paper on corporate social responsibility in a globalised economy.

The white paper clarifies the responsibility companies have regarding public reporting on sustainability performance – including human rights, decent working conditions, the environment and anti-corruption.
The Government will propose amendments to the Accounting Act that extend the duty of Norwegian companies to provide information on what they are doing to implement ethical guidelines,” said Minister of Trade and Industry Sylvia Brustad.

The paper explains how the GRI G3 Guidelines – the world’s most widely-used sustainability reporting framework – can be used to fulfill companies’ responsibilities to make transparent disclosure on key sustainability issues.

“We very much welcome this exciting news from Norway. In using the GRI Guidelines more Norwegian companies can join with thousands of others from the whole world and from Norway who are already using this globally applicable framework to disclose their performance on critical issues of today such as climate change, labor conditions, gender balance, human rights and product responsibility,” said Teresa Fogelberg, Deputy Chief Executive of the Global Reporting Initiative.

Practical support in advancing GRI’s mission is also announced in the paper:

“The Norwegian government considers GRI a suitable tool for reporting on economic, social and environmental business impact, and will contribute with relevant information and guidance. Norway will support the GRI financially, focussing on increasing the relevance of GRI for developing countries, as well as on the GRI’s work on adapting the tool to fit the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises.”

Ms Fogelberg added: “Norway is growing into a strong governmental partner for GRI. It has now joined with several other countries in using the GRI framework in the formulation of national policy on CSR. We are very grateful for their support.”

In October last year KPMG released a survey which found that disclosure on corporate economic, environmental and social performance has become the norm among larger companies globally. Now, over 80 per cent of Global Fortune 250 companies (G250) disclose their sustainability performance in “sustainability” or “corporate responsibility” reports, the vast majority of which use GRI’s Sustainability Reporting Framework as their basis.

The same survey found that Norway is one of the top five countries globally in terms of the percentage of companies with a publicly available corporate responsibility strategy (fourth place, with 63%). Many large Norwegian companies, including energy giant Norsk Hydro-Statoil, use the GRI Guidelines as the basis for their sustainability report.