Sustainability Reporting – Misperceptions & Barriers

The North American sustainability reporting practice is still lagging behind Europe. As a sustainability reporting course instructor and GRI report producer, it has been interesting to observe the discrepancy between GRI’s intent and external perception of certain elements of the GRI framework.

In a recent article (Sustainability Reporting using GRI Lessons Learned Article Nov09), I examined some of these misperceptions and reporting barriers based on discussions with over 90 attendees of ten GRI-certified short courses delivered from January to July 2009 in Canada and the USA. The key concerns and confusions revolve around the sheer number of Performance Indicators, self declaration of Application Level and related GRI/Third Party Check options, and the concept of assurance (which will be subject of future blogs). There is also an undercurrent: what will all of this cost and will this create value for money for a reporter? To get a feel for this aspect, I would encourage you to read this blog entry: What are Cost Drivers of Sustainability Reporting for First Timers?

What are your concerns about the GRI framework and how do they create barriers in your organizations to pursue sustainability reporting?

5 Comments to Sustainability Reporting – Misperceptions & Barriers

  1. […] GRI notes that Performance Indicator should be selected – and this also means that some may be omitted – based on GRI’s Materiality Principle. A careful review of reports designated as “A” level reveals that some Performance Indicators have been typically left out. Or that the determination of the reporting boundary and associated scope limitations eliminates the depth and usefulness of data presented. Or that data gaps or proprietary nature of information provides grounds for data exclusion with undermining ability to determining report as “A” level.  And I am ignoring the wonderful topic of assurance and credibility of reports – regardless of Application Levels  (see also my previous blog posting: Sustainability Reporting – Misperceptions & Barriers) […]

  2. […] In fact, the same limitation also applies to a 3rd Party Check, which is perhaps little more than counting of number of profile disclosures and indicators contained in a GRI-type sustainability report. Despite misperceptions by some report users, neither GRI Check nor Third Party Checks provide any indication of quality of the report, the underlying reporting process (such as engagement with stakeholders) and accuracy of data/statements made (such as validity of greenhouse gas emission disclosure). See also my related blog postings (Is SIF’s GRI Study more Searching for Key under the Lantern and Sustainability reporting – Misperception and Barriers). […]

  3. […] Sustainability Reporting – Misperceptions & Barriers […]

  4. […] Lee and Marc Paquin at Unisféra/Planetair. (See also a blog/article summarizing my experience: Sustainability Reporting – Misperceptions & Barriers). LEAD Canada GRI-certified training program has now been outsourced and is being delivered […]

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