Sustainability experts call for transparency policy in Australia: GRI Focal Point Australia press release
26 March 2012
​Photography: Christopher Chan (CC License)

​The Australian government should develop a policy to encourage transparency, helping Australian companies to move to the forefront of sustainability, experts will say at the Australian GRI Conference on Sustainability and Integrated Reporting, being held on 26-28 March 2012 in Melbourne.
According to a recent KPMG report, Australia has fallen from the 13th most prolific producer of sustainability reports in the world to the 23rd since 2010. Many governments have already put in place policies to encourage companies to report their sustainability impacts – including environmental, social and governance performance. Experts say that Australia’s lag in sustainability reporting could be down to a lack of legislation.

Ernst Ligteringen, Chief Executive of the Global Reporting Initiative, said: “increasingly governments and stock exchanges worldwide are asking their large companies to provide reports on their sustainability performance or to explain why not. This is smart regulation – it helps level the playing field and increases competitiveness.”

Louise O'Halloran, Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) Executive Director, added: "It is a given in the 21st century that corporate ESG performance has a significant impact upon competitive positioning, productivity and financial outcomes. It follows then that analysts require clear, comparable ESG information from companies in order to arrive at correct valuations."

More recently, integrated reporting – the process of disclosing financial and non-financial information in an integrated way – is emerging as a driver for transparency around sustainability performance. The Australian GRI Conference on Sustainability and Integrated Reporting will open discussions on what integrated reporting means for companies, and how policy can help encourage an integrated view of performance.

“Markets can only function if they are well informed, and analysts and investors are increasingly interested in sustainability data. By reporting their non-financial performance – through sustainability or integrated reporting – companies can lead the transition to a sustainable global economy. Governments, including Australia’s, can support this transition by encouraging their companies to report their performance or explain why not,” added Ligteringen.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) produces a comprehensive sustainability reporting framework that is widely used around the world. GRI has representatives around the world, including a ‘Focal Point’ in Australia. The March conference will bring together hundreds of sustainability experts, policy makers and thought leaders from the region to explore the role of sustainability and integrated reporting in the transition to a sustainable economy.

-Ends-

Contact:
Claire Malyon, Professional Public Relations (02) 9818 0958, cmalyon@ppr.com.au

Notes to editors:

1. About the Global Reporting Initiative

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) produces a comprehensive Sustainability Reporting Framework that is widely used around the world, to enable greater organizational transparency. The Framework, including the Reporting Guidelines, sets out the Principles and Indicators organizations can use to report their economic, environmental, and social performance. GRI is committed to continuously improving and increasing the use of the Guidelines, which are freely available to the public.

GRI, a multi-stakeholder foundation, was set up in the US in 1997 by CERES and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). In 2002, GRI moved its central office to Amsterdam, where the Secretariat is currently located. GRI has regional ‘Focal Points’ in Australia, Brazil, China, India and the USA, and a worldwide network of 30,000 people.

2. About GRI’s Focal Point Australia

GRI’s Focal Point Australia aims to meet the needs of stakeholders in the region, to increase the use of and participation in the development of the GRI Sustainability Reporting Framework, and to strengthen and expand the GRI network.

GRI’s Focal Point Australia was established in 2008 when GRI and the St James Ethics Centre entered into an agreement. The collaboration serves to strengthen the collective goals of both organisations—increasing the uptake of responsible business practice, and making reporting on economic, environmental and social performance by all organisations as routine and comparable as financial reporting. The Focal Point is supported by the Federal Government’s Treasury, CPA Australia and GRI.

3. About the Australian GRI Conference on Sustainability and Integrated Reporting

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), with the support of the Australian Government, is holding its first ever regional conference in Melbourne, Australia. With the theme of Innovate – Integrate – Collaborate, the Australian GRI Conference on Sustainability and Integrated Reporting will help bridge the divide between organizations in Australia and the Asia Pacific region, and international developments in integrated reporting. The outcomes of this Conference will help inform GRI’s thinking on integrated reporting and the next generation of its Sustainability Reporting Guidelines – G4.