Sustainability experts call for smarter regulation on transparency

Source: Global Reporting Initiative, 20 April 2011

Sustainability experts are calling on regulators to ask companies for information on how sustainable they are – or explain why if they choose not to provide it. Today the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) launches the Report or Explain Campaign Forum to encourage more companies to be transparent about their impacts on the world.
Teresa Fogelberg, Deputy Chief Executive of GRI, said: “A report or explain approach could persuade more companies to report rather than to explain why they don’t. If a company doesn’t report its sustainability performance but explains the reason publicly, we would all have the chance to decide whether we want to deal with that company. This kind of approach enables society to hold organizations accountable for their actions.”

The Campaign Forum spotlights initiatives that are driving a report or explain approach to sustainability reporting, and features an information bank on global policy developments.

Organizations can improve their sustainability performance by measuring, monitoring and reporting on it, helping them have a positive impact on society, the economy, and a sustainable future.

GRI provides the world’s most widely-used framework for producing sustainability reports. The GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines enable all organizations worldwide to assess their sustainability performance and disclose the results in a similar way to financial reporting. GRI’s vision is a sustainable global economy, where companies’ disclosure of their sustainability performance is standard practice.

Teresa Fogelberg added: “There are many ways to do this, for example through regulation. If regulators were to adopt a report or explain approach, companies could still be free to choose what kind of relevant information to disclose. Governments, stock exchanges and other regulators could easily adopt a report or explain policy.”

The new Report or Explain Campaign Forum is a convening space for everyone who wants to drive organizational sustainability disclosure. The Forum is open to all who believe that sustainability reporting is necessary and beneficial – that companies should reveal their performance or the reasons why if they don’t.

The Forum’s first Campaign Partners are: the Green Economy Coalition, the Unit for Corporate Governance in Africa, Lawyers for Better Business, SOMO, Calvert Investments, Manidis Roberts, IDEARSE and Net Balance Foundation.

Oliver Greenfield, Convenor of the Green Economy Coalition said: “Green Economy Coalition supports GRI’s Report or Explain Campaign Forum. There is an urgent need to encourage investments to flow to those companies that can lead the change towards a Green Economy. Clear and comparable sustainability reporting is key to achieving this. At the GEC we are proud to be working with GRI on Accountability and Governance for Green Economy as input for a successful Rio+20 conference in 2012. We believe the Report or Explain Campaign Forum is an important step towards transparency and action for a green economy.”

Any organization campaigning for a report or explain approach, or increased corporate transparency, can join the Forum, or support GRI in collating information on regulation around the world. The Forum is hosted on GRI’s website,