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Alliance calls for standard on sustainability reporting

August 2012

A passage in the Rio+20 final document covering sustainability reporting by publicly listed and large companies has won the support of the Brazilian, Danish, French and South African governments, which have formed an alliance known as the Group of Friends of Paragraph 47. 
 
The group has invited the UN Environment Programme (Unep) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) to back its efforts to advance sustainability reporting urged by paragraph 47. 
 
With the technical advice and support of Unep and GRI, members hope to inspire other countries to join the movement and provide best practice guidance for those with the political will to introduce reporting.
 
The GRI has developed guidelines for standardising sustainability reporting and formulating methods of making reporting easier and more accessible. Denmark is encouraging countries to adopt its model requiring companies to report their economic, environmental and social performance, or to explain why they do not report. 
 
Villy Søvndal, Denmark’s foreign affairs minister, said: “In Denmark, the legal requirement for the largest companies to report is having positive effects – increasing Danish companies’ international reputation and creating value for the companies and their stakeholders.” 
 
Similarly, it is also a requirement of listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange to report or explain why not. Edna Molewa, South Africa’s water and environmental affairs minister, explained the benefits: “Adoption of more sustainable approaches will create new green jobs, [and] open up new investment opportunities and export markets. [It] supports the creation of a knowledge-based economy and allows South Africa to set standards and demonstrate thought leadership.” 
 
The group expects governments to respond to the campaign by increasing reporting worldwide. 
 
Achim Steiner, UN under-secretary general and Unep executive director, observed: “Year in and year out, trillions of dollars flow in and out of investments across the globe, a proportion of which is assisting in generating the conditions for a transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient, job-generating green economy. 
 
“An intensified commitment on sustainability reporting could dramatically assist in accelerating and scaling up these positive investment flows.”



United Nations | Global | Sustainability

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