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?