Research under the microscope

Assuring sustainability reports

A growing number of companies are auditing their sustainability data, but it remains a minority practice.

Since a growing number of economic decisions are being made based in part on sustainability-related information, ensuring the reliability of such data has grown in importance. One way to instill confidence in the underlying quality of sustainability data is to conduct an audit and provide assurance on that information. In the same way that regulated financial data needs to be audited by a qualified assurance provider, sustainability data can be reviewed by a third-party assurance provider.

The past few years have seen a notable rise in the number of companies auditing their sustainability data. This trend is largely a response to increasing pressure from various stakeholder groups for assurance on the reliability of corporate sustainability data. The rules about sustainability auditing are much less stringent than those that govern the auditing of financial data, and, accordingly, the extent and scope of an audit of sustainability data often varies significantly among companies in a given industry. This is because sustainability reporting is still largely a voluntary as opposed to mandatory activity, characterized by a lack of agreed-upon scopes and standards available to assurance providers.

Continue Reading...

Asian countries work to balance prosperity

Corporate Knights shows which Asian countries are most successful at balancing economic, social and environmental prosperity.

It’s no surprise that Asia is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies. On average, the Asian continent experienced a growth rate of 4.5% in 2013, or double the global average of 2.2%. Macau experienced the highest growth rate over the last year at 11.9%, according to the World Bank.

Continue Reading...

Sustainable Asia

The introduction and ranking for the Sustainable Asia Scorecard.

A Swiss Re report released earlier this year offered some valuable insights into the sustainability challenges unique to Asia. The insurance giant learned that nine out of 10 cities in the world ranked most vulnerable to natural disaster are located in the Asia region.

Most of the disasters cited were of the kind expected to become more severe and frequent due to climate change – damage and life loss associated with flooding, storm surges and high winds. Flooding rivers alone are expected to affect 380 million people globally, most of them in Asia.

Continue Reading...

Global 100 stock performance

Ranking’s sustainability indicators could serve as proxies for market outperformance.

The Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations ranking, which Corporate Knights has published each year since 2005, is one of the world's most credible and widely followed corporate sustainability rankings.

What distinguishes the Global 100 from many other sustainability rankings is the nature of its methodology. Instead of relying on analyst judgment or rolled up “black box” sustainability scores, the Global 100 is driven exclusively by how companies perform on a set of 12 metrics covering resource, financial and employee management. Coupled with this “data driven” approach, every aspect of the project, including how each metric is calculated, and how the starting universe of about 4,000 stocks is whittled down to 100, is detailed on the Global 100 website.

Continue Reading...

New G4 reporting guidelines

Forget the G20. The new G4 standards is where real change is occurring.

Corporate sustainability reporting has been one of the greatest achievements when it comes to fostering corporate accountability and transparency. While a myriad of voluntary and mandatory sustainability reporting frameworks exist, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is generally cited as the front-runner. With its performance reporting guidelines, the GRI is seeking to make sustainability reporting standard practice. The goal is to achieve a sustainable global economy where organizations manage their economic, environmental, social and governance performance and impacts responsibly and report transparently. According to the GRI, at the end of 2012, there were close to 3,500 reporters of sustainability performance, up from a mere 25 a decade ago. While the rate of uptake has been remarkable, have reporting entities lived up to the expectations of transparency? One grey area that remains is how entities report on their outsourced manufacturing activities. Save for a few instances where companies have reported on supplier audits, environmental, social and health & safety performance at the supplier level almost never makes its way to the reporting entity’s sustainability performance publications.

Continue Reading...