International Corporate Accountability Leaders gather to discuss non-financial reporting

Source: Global Reporting Initiative, 11 November 2002

Continuing its commitment to engaging southern African stakeholders, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is holding a briefing at the University of South Africa today. The event brings together South African and international speakers, representing leading businesses, non-governmental organizations, and individuals committed to improving global environmental and social conditions through increased corporate accountability.
GRI is a long-term, multi-stakeholder, international undertaking whose mission is to develop and disseminate globally applicable sustainability reporting guidelines for voluntary use by organisations reporting on the economic, environmental, and social dimensions of their activities, products, and services. GRIs mandate is to elevate sustainability reporting to a level that is both equivalent and complementary to financial reporting.

South Africa is playing a critical role in advancing the global accountability agenda, said Dr. Allen White, GRI Acting Chief Executive. We see South African institutions as international leaders in the arena of disclosure, multi-stakeholder processes, and corporate governance.

South African leadership is exemplified by the King Report on Corporate Governance for South Africa 2002. The report recommends that, Public disclosure of non-financial information should be governed by the principles of reliability, relevance, clarity, comparability, timeliness and verifiability in line with the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Reporting Guidelines on economic, environmental and social performance. South African companies, including Eskom, Hillside Aluminium, SAB Miller, Sasol, and Umgeni Water, are amongst the more than 150 pioneering companies worldwide that have used the GRI Guidelines.

Building on the launch of GRIs 2002 Guidelines at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the event will explore the challenges and opportunities of sustainability reporting in the post-WSSD period. The briefing is an opportunity for GRI to consult with South African stakeholders to ensure that the Guidelines have applicability and acceptance in the southern African region.

The event runs from 9:3016:30 at the University of South Africa in Johannesburg. The Honourable Mervyn King, Chair of the South African King Committee on Corporate Governance will provide the keynote address. Dr. Nyameko Barney Pityana, Vice-Chancellor of UNISA and a member of the GRI Board of Directors, will welcome to the event more than 200 corporate, government, labour, investment, and social and environmental advocacy leaders from throughout southern Africa.

Also slated for the event is the release for public comment of a draft resource document for corporate reporting on HIV/AIDS. A core working group based in South Africa, consisting of a dozen individuals from diverse stakeholder constituencies, developed the reporting guide initially for industries hardest hit by HIV/AIDS in southern Africa, such as mining, manufacturing, agriculture, and transportation. Organisations will eventually use the guide to publicly disclose information on their HIV/AIDS practices, policies, and performance. GRI’s HIV/AIDS Project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The African Institute of Corporate Citizenship has served as coordinator for this event and is available locally for media inquiries.