Reporting and accountability have never been more essential, as businesses strengthen their sustainability commitments through WBCSD’s updated membership conditions according to a new report launched today by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The findings can be finding in the ninth edition of Reporting Matters – WBCSD’s annual look at its member companies’ sustainability and integrated reports in partnership with Radley Yeldar (RY).

Covering 168 leading international companies, this year’s research depicts continued progress in corporate sustainability reporting. This year, Reporting Matters has paid special attention to the role corporate reporting plays in shaping and communicating the contribution of businesses in tackling unprecedented challenges in climate change, nature loss, and inequality.

Reporting is improving

  • 76% of member companies in our benchmark have developed their Overall scores since the baseline year of 2018; 30% have improved their Materiality score.

The state of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) reporting

  • 90% of reports reviewed mentioned SDGs in some way; 35% prioritize 5-8 Goals to focus on.

The state of integrated reporting

  • 40% of reports studied combine financial and non-financial information, up from 33% in 2018; 20% are self-declared integrated reports.

The state of Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reporting

  • 82% of reports in focus, reference GRI, similar to 83% in 2018; 83% of these claim to be in accordance with the Core or Comprehensive level.

The emergence of Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)

  • 48% of reports analysed, reference the SASB standards, up from 9% in 2018; 74% reference the TCFD recommendations.

The future is digital

24% of reports reviewed supply a digital-first experience, up from 20% in 2018; 65% of members with an offline-first approach produce complementary online content.

Peter Bakker, President and CEO of WBCSD, said: “Amidst global efforts to bridge the disconnect between financial systems and environmental and social impacts, the business community is making stronger commitments to contributing to a net-zero, nature-positive and equitable future. Clarifying and harmonizing decision-useful sustainability information that companies share with financial actors and other stakeholders is an urgent priority. Reporting is central to upholding accountability and transparency in the sustainable transition.”

Jennifer Black, Sustainability Reporting Director at RY, said: “The results from this year’s Reporting Matters review reflect the wider adoption of frameworks and standards by businesses, particularly around SASB and TCFD. This is a promising trend as businesses focus on transparent and rigorous reporting, seeking ways to share decision-useful content that spans both the financial as well as the non-financial and taking us beyond a siloed approach to sustainability.  The uptake of businesses reporting against the TCFD over the last year is especially heartening as businesses increasingly seek to integrate climate-related risks into their broader risk framework. I firmly believe that reporting, when done right, is both a valuable internal management tool for businesses, as well as a galvanizing force for sustainability action externally.”

Moving ahead, it is plain that the long-term strategic thinking set out by the SDGs, WBCSD’s Vision 2050 and the broader drive for more inclusive forms of capitalism are more than ever required. Companies must be resilient and maintain their sustainability momentum to survive.

In the background, Reporting Matters will continue into 2022 as WBCSD and its member companies strive to improve corporate reporting as we accelerate the transition to a sustainable world.

Download the full report here.

Source: WBCSD