The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Ceres, a US coalition of environmental and investor groups today called for submissions to the Ceres-ACCA North American Awards for Sustainability Reporting 2004. These awards, the first ever in North America, are entering their third year.
The purpose of the awards program is to acknowledge and publicize best practice in reporting on sustainability, environmental and social performance by corporations and organizations and to provide leadership to those companies that are publishing or intend to publish sustainability reports.
The awards are not intended to endorse or reward company performance in any of the three areas, but rather to acknowledge exemplary disclosure that places performance in the broader context of sustainability challenges, risks and opportunities. The judging criteria address completeness, credibility and quality of communication. A jury of eight to 10 judges will be selected in the coming weeks and will include North American leaders and experts representing a broad spectrum of backgrounds.
Last year, 52 reporting award applications were received from 48 companies. Half of the submissions came from American companies and half from Canadian ones. A Canadian company, Suncor Energy Inc. from Canada took the top sustainability reporting award overall. Both ACCA and Ceres expect that the number of applicants will increase this year.
Any Canadian, American or Mexican company, institution or organization can submit a report to the Ceres-ACCA North American Awards for Sustainability Reporting 2004. An organization not based in Canada, the United States, or Mexico can submit a report if it is solely focused on a site or subsidiary based in Canada, the United States, or Mexico. The awards will be given for reports published in year 2004 for year 2003 performance. Companies may apply on their own behalf or be nominated by others.
"Sustainability reporting is a key driver of corporate social responsibility behaviors," said Lynn Beauregard, Administrative Director of ACCA Canada. "It plays a vital role in improving not only communication, but also credibility and trust between organizations and their stakeholders." "It also provides a clear framework for all stakeholders to compare companies on their environmental performance", she added.
"Hundreds of companies are trying to increase accountability to stakeholders by investing serious time and energy into reports disclosing their social and environmental impacts and performance. We think it is important to recognize innovation and leadership in such corporate reporting," said Mindy S. Lubber, Executive Director of Ceres. "We are proud to be working with the ACCA, one of the most important and globally-minded accounting organizations in the world, to advance this important trend toward improved disclosure and transparency in North America."
ACCA has been promoting greater transparency in corporate reporting of social and environmental impacts for over a decade and is involved in similar reporting awards throughout Europe, Africa, and the Asia Pacific region. Ceres launched and led the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) with the United Nations Environment Program, until it became an independent, international standard-setting organization in June 2002. The number of companies around the world that follow the GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines has more than doubled in the past year to over 500.
There are three reporting award categories: Sustainability Reporting, Environmental Reporting and Social Reporting. The same report cannot be entered into more than one category.