Guidance on sustainable development reporting

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has issued guidance to companies on how to produce a sustainable development report - incorporating social, environmental and economic factors.1

The concept of sustainable development reporting "remains diffuse" and as yet there is no standard approach, the guidance acknowledges. Although the WBCSD welcomes moves towards standardisation of reporting practices, it argues that this should not be rushed or too rigid.

The WBCSD also supports a move towards greater consistency in financial ratings of companies, saying that the gap between the information in reports and that requested by the financial community needs to close. Businesses also need to develop better indicators to account for the financial value created by their sustainable development activities, it says.

The Council stresses that the emphasis is shifting away from reporting of past performance to looking towards the future. A company's ability to respond effectively to developments should become a central message of reporting, it says. Business models, the ability to meet targets, perform research and respond to market trends will become stronger themes, it believes.

To support the report, the WBCSD had launched a web site to give companies ideas about what to include in their own reports. It showcases the reporting practices of over 40 companies across 14 business sectors and provides a step-by-step guide.

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