Adding some Latin American Spirit to the GRI Global Conference 2016
02 December 2015

​In the run up to GRI’s Global Conference next May, we’ve been on the road holding conference preview events in Latin America to showcase the value of the GRI Global Conference and hearing local views on sustainability reporting and what they hope to gain from the conference.

The Latin America region has shown a notable eagerness to get to grips with sustainability challenges of our time, and Brazil in particular has a sound reporting base with 31% of all GRI reports from Latin America submitted to the GRI Sustainability Database in 2015 coming from companies in Brazil.

“Latin America is a very inspiring region for GRI,” explains Nikki McKean Wood, Director Corporate and Stakeholder Relations, GRI. “Brazil in particular has always had a strong presence with engaged delegations attending our Global Conference. We often see active participants, speakers and sponsors. And even with the challenge of the recession, we see engaged companies in the region, evolving in the process of reporting." 

The pre-conference events were held in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba, providing lively discussions about sustainability progress, frustrations and the plans for the next 10 years.

Building expectations
Participants welcomed the opportunity to take inspiration from a variety of sustainability experts, providing them with a taster of what’s to come next May. Ivani Benazzi de Andrade, Investors Relations at Banco Bradesco, described his experience: “What pleased me the most was the opportunity to interact with leading sustainability experts from different sectors and segments. I saw this event as a great learning opportunity.” 

SulAmérica hosted the event in Rio de Janeiro, and Taina Braga, Sustainability Coordinator at SulAmérica explains the significance for GRI’s presence in Brazil: “The event was an important opportunity for exchanging and generating expectations about the Global Conference in May 2016. The business community of Rio de Janeiro needs these kind of opportunities and GRI is doing great work in mobilizing activity here.”

A growing recognition for sustainability reporting
In Curitiba, the event was hosted by company Itaipu Binacional. Head of the Social Responsibility Advisory Board at Itaipu Binacional and member of the GRI Corporate Leadership Group for Reporting 2025, Heloisa Covolan called on participants to celebrate the increase of sustainability reporting among companies and also within governments, from the municipal to the federal.

Paulo Zanardi, GRI Community Leader in the State of Paraná, shared his view of the most significant advance in the recent years: the fact that sustainability became widely known throughout the world and is now part of the decision-making process in many companies. Paulo Pereira, Sustainability Superintendent of Copel reinforced this view: “Companies with bad practices in our supply chain present a risk. If something bad happens, society will hold us accountable.”

Last week the Brazilian stock exchange, BM&F Bovespa, announced the 11th portfolio of the Corporate Sustainability Index (ISE), effective from 4 January, 2016 to 29 December, 2016. ISE reflects the average return of a theoretical portfolio of equities in publicly traded companies listed on BM&FBOVESPA and which have sustainability best practices.

According to the ISE data, there has been a significant increase in companies’ transparency since last year. For example, 93% of companies declare a corporate policy regarding climate change, approved by the Board of Directors or upper management of the company, compared with 83% in the previous year.

93% of companies declare that they have committed to previously established greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets, compared with 67% last year. Meanwhile, 7% of companies have not established such targets, compared with 33% in the previous year.

100% of companies publish a sustainability report in accordance with GRI directives, an increase of 7% from the previous year.

Room for reporting improvement
While the figures are very encouraging, there’s more work to be done. Just over half of the companies (53%) met or surpassed their GHG targets, highlighting the large number of organizations which still need to reach their targets. Additionally, just 44% of companies do not include criteria/indicators related to their socio-environmental performances within the variable remuneration and assessment metrics of their management.

It is hoped the current convening of the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris will help generate greater focus from companies on climate change related issues and the need for greater transparency in this area.

Norman Arruda, chairman of the ISAE / FGV and advisor for GRI in Brazil emphasized the deeper meaning of what we’re all aiming to achieve through our daily work for sustainability practices: "Sustainability is not a style nor a model, it is a matter of essence, the soul of the organization. We are talking about guaranteeing a better future for the planet.”

We hope to welcome many Brazilians, along with participants from all other world regions in Amsterdam for the 2016 Global Conference next May. Take a look at the Conference Program and register by 29 January to enjoy the early bird discount!