Sustainability data more reliable, says new figures

Source: Global Reporting Initiative, 11 May 2011

Sustainability reports are becoming more reliable, according to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). Figures from the GRI Reports List published today (Wednesday 11 May 2011), alongside GRI’s Year in Review 2009/10, suggest that more companies are having their sustainability reports assured, resulting in more accurate and trustworthy data
trend in sustainability reporting, and suggest an increase in the use and awareness of GRI Guidelines. There was an increase of 22 percent in the number of GRI reports worldwide registered in the GRI Reports List in 2010.

GRI provides the world’s most comprehensive framework for producing sustainability reports. The GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines enable large and small companies, non-profit organizations and government bodies worldwide to assess their sustainability performance and disclose the results in a similar way to financial reporting. Transparency through reporting on economic, environmental and social factors drives the sustainability of individual organizations and, ultimately, the global economy.

The Year in Review is GRI’s annual report, outlining the achievements of the GRI Network and showing trends in sustainability reporting using the GRI Guidelines. GRI collects data on the number of reports based on the GRI Guidelines, published in the GRI Reports List. Today, GRI announces its 2010 reporting data, alongside the latest Year in Review.

The 2010 figures indicate an increase of 22 percent in the number of reports worldwide registered on the GRI Reports List, rising from 1491 in 2009 to 1818 in 2010. The figures are based on reports that GRI is aware of and that contain a GRI Content Index. Although this means not all sustainability reports are included, the database statistics reflect general trends in reporting.

According to statistics from the GRI Reports List for 1 January to 31 December 2010, almost half of all sustainability reports globally are being assured. The proportion of sustainability reports being assured increased from 45 percent (510) in 2009 to 47 percent (664) in 2010.

Ernst Ligteringen, Chief Executive of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), explained the importance of assurance: “More and more organizations around the world are realizing the importance of their impacts on the economy, the environment and society, and they are starting to report on their performance in those areas. Similarly, investors are looking more closely at sustainability data to determine the long term health of a company. An important way to ensure that this kind of data is useful, meaningful and accurate is to have the report assured.

“Sustainability data is increasingly important for making investment decisions and monitoring the success of companies. As GRI works towards its mission to make sustainability reporting standard practice, assurance will be key to guaranteeing the trust stakeholders place in sustainability data,” added Ligteringen.

In addition, many companies are asking GRI to check the degree to which their reports follow the GRI Guidelines, reflecting both companies’ desires to provide trustworthy data and stakeholders’ requirements for clear and accessible information. The proportion of reports checked by GRI remains the same, at 33 percent: In 2009, 372 reports were checked by GRI, increasing to 460 in 2010.