Washington Symposium Attracts the World
The participation of almost 500 delegates from 40 countries made the 2nd International Global Reporting Initiative Symposium in Washington, D.C., a lively, diverse, provocative, and rewarding event. The symposium brought together viewpoints from across the globe and across a broad spectrum of thinking. There were 85 representatives from corporations, 75 from social and environmental non-governmental organisations, 20 from financial institutions, and another 300 representatives from labour, governments, consulting groups, and academic institutions. The Symposium explored how investment, corporate accountability and disclosure can be harnessed to advance sustainability. The main points of discussion were how to improve the GRI’s Sustainability Reporting Guidelines and the future of the GRI as a permanent and effective institution.
While the symposium surpassed all expectations, it was equally clear that many key challenges lie ahead. Among these are:
* Clarifying GRI’s mission
* Harmonizing and linking company and facility-level reporting, and defining the value of such reporting to local communities
* Engaging small and medium sized enterprises
* Ensuring that GRI does not create unintended and unfair barriers to trade
* Ensuring a balanced, diverse, transparent, high-integrity governance structure for the long-term
Continued interaction with Symposium delegates will provide the foundation for mapping follow-up activities. And the wisdom, critiques, and suggestions from all interested parties will strengthen the broad appeal of the GRI. Summaries, speeches, and presentations from the Symposium are available.
Leading Investors Urge CEO’s to Adopt Sustainability Reporting Guidelines
In mid November, 39 leading financial investors, managing more than $140 billion in investments, urged the 500 largest US corporations to adopt standardized measures for social, environmental and economic reports-in other words, the GRI’s Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. The letter’s signatories are leading socially responsible investors, including Calvert Group and Domini Social Investments, and investment advisors for institutional pension funds for the City of New York, and the United Church of Christ. They manage investments for foundations, pension funds, religious institutions, organizations, and individuals. Frank Coleman of the Christian Brothers Investment Services stated that, -The reason so many investors are joining together at this time is our recognition that corporate social and environmental practices have profound impact on companies’ bottom-lines. Companies that fail to provide investors and consumers with more comprehensive, accurate and reliable information will fall behind in the increasingly global economy.” The 39 investors are asking CEO’s to heed international calls for greater transparency by adopting the Guidelines and by preparing sustainability reports for the year 2000. See the press release for more information on this initiative.
More Companies Follow Sustainability Reporting Guidelines
The following companies have recently released reports that were informed by the Guidelines.
* AT&T (USA)
* Biffa Waste Services Ltd. (UK)
* Renfe (Spain)
* Royal & SunAlliance (UK)
* SITA – Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux (France)
* Thames Water (UK)
Since following the Guidelines is entirely voluntary, companies are not obligated to inform GRI of adoption or use. However, to monitor GRI’s progress, and identify needs for GRI outreach and future Guidelines revisions, the Secretariat asks all such companies to inform the secretariat of their use of the Guidelines at email@example.com. We are keeping a cumulative list of companies that state they considered the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines in preparing their reports.
Presenting the GRI
In an ongoing effort to extend the reach of the GRI to new stakeholders, GRI representatives accepted invitations to make presentations on the GRI in the past two months at the following business, investor, and policy events:
* Business for Social Responsibility Annual Conference, New York, 500 participants
* 5th National Congress on the Environment, Madrid, 250 participants
* Global Environmental Forum, Tokyo, 500 participants
* Conference Board of Europe, Copenhagen, 30 participants
* Catalonian Ethical Banking Conference, Barcelona, 200 participants
* Pensions & Investment Research Consultants Annual Conference, London, 50 participants
* Enterprises por l’Environnement Meeting, Paris, 35 participants
The June 2000 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines are now available in Japanese, Dutch and German for downloading.
French, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish translations are currently being prepared and will be posted shortly. Thank you to all of the organisations and individuals who have prepared translations.