Governments collaborate to build the future we want
05 December 2012

​Governments play a key role in promoting sustainability reporting. The significance of governmental action was emphasized on 7 November, when the Group of Friends of Paragraph 47 issued its Charter.
​The Group of Friends of Paragraph 47 was formed by the governments of Brazil, Denmark, France and South Africa, following the acknowledgement of the importance of corporate sustainability reporting in Paragraph 47 of the The future we want - the outcome document of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). GRI and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) were asked to form the Group’s Secretariat.

In its Charter, the Group welcomes the unanimous endorsement of The future we want, and acknowledges the importance of Paragraph 47 as a step forward in the advancement of an international culture of corporate transparency and accountability.

The Charter stresses the importance of engagement between governments, the UN and other relevant stakeholders. It also states that governments should promote the continuous exchange of experience and best practice on policy and market regulation to promote sustainability reporting, and highlights the need to build on the experience of existing frameworks.

Furthermore, the Charter recognizes that sustainability reporting is relevant globally, and that the needs of developing countries should be given particular attention. It also advises that ‘each government chooses the most relevant policy tools applicable to its culture and jurisdiction’.

The importance of stakeholders’ views and perspectives is acknowledged in the Charter, and the Group has committed to engage with interested stakeholders in open and constructive dialogue.  The Group is currently discussing the modalities of stakeholder engagement following a proposal developed by the Secretariat and certain stakeholders. The formation of an ‘international reference group’ will enable a structured stakeholder engagement process. All stakeholders that are interested in joining the international reference group can contact the Secretariat.

In the Charter, the four founding Group members invite other governments that share their vision to join. Many governments have expressed interest, and the Norwegian Government has announced its intention to join the Group.

According to Pietro Bertazzi, GRI Senior Manager Policy and Government Affairs, “The Charter represents a milestone in this exciting process that has come out of the Rio+20 Conference. The Group of Friends of Paragraph 47 is a unique governmental initiative that will support the implementation of the international commitments on sustainability reporting made at Rio+20, and contribute to making sustainability reporting a standard practice.”

On 14-16 November the World Forum Lille was held, bringing together some of the world’s most important Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) players and showcasing their CSR practices. The Group of Friends of Paragraph 47 met at the event. The Group presented its Charter, and engaged with stakeholders in a public session and with other interested governments in attendance – those of Argentina, Australia, Gabon and The Netherlands.

The Group will be present at the GRI Conference in May 2013, offering attendees the opportunity to engage and hear about the advancements that have been made.

Read more about the Group of Friends of Paragraph 47 and download the Charter.