ICC Document & publication

ICC global business calls on Rio plus 20 to encourage sustainability reporting (2012)

This joint ICC briefing note on sustainability reporting was prepared for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) held from 20-22 June 2012.

Many companies have pioneered practices in sharing information on their progress in implementing sustainable business practices using a variety of approaches and tools, including periodic reporting. In the view of ICC, communication, reporting, stakeholder engagement and on-going dialogue on sustainability have become important elements of a successful corporate strategy and represent good business practice.

These practices continue to evolve and are spreading globally. Enterprises all over the world are becoming aware of the importance of managing and reporting on their progress in driving improvements on sustainability. In addition, companies and business organizations have worked closely with other stakeholders to advance the “know and show” approach through various initiatives including the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, ISO 26000 Guidance on Social Responsibility and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).

A fundamental aspect of the “know and show” approach is that it needs to be adapted by each enterprise to reflect their individual circumstances – what works best in one setting may not be effective in another. This is particularly true as these practices spread more widely across the globe.

As we approach the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), there have been proposals to initiate the development of a single global policy framework requiring all large and listed companies to report on sustainability.

ICC supports the continued evolution and spread of communicating on sustainability issues by all actors including business. We strongly believe that sustainability reporting should be approached in a more differentiated manner as priorities and actions may vary across business sectors, value chains and specific national circumstances. Moreover, reporting should also be considered in a more holistic manner and should not be approached in isolation from measures to deepen business commitments to sustainable growth models in support of a transition towards a green economy.

Thus, the objective should not be a standardized global approach to reporting but the creation of conditions where market forces reflect an appropriate “pull” that leads to broader participation in sustainable practices that can be reported.