Speaking at the ceremony and presenting the awards at the Hotel Astoria in Brussels was Odile Quintin, Director General, DG Employment, Industrial Relations and Social Affairs at the European Commission. Richard Howett MEP also addressed the audience, giving the European Parliament’s perspective on increasing accountability. Entries for both Awards – for Best Sustainability Report and Best Environmental Report – were judged by an expert panel including auditors, consultants and academics.

Rachel Jackson, Head of Social & Environmental Issues at ACCA, co-sponsors of the event, said: “With questions of ethics and trust currently at the forefront of business and political debate, it is vital that stakeholders’ interests are not compromised. Sustainability reporting acts as a key driver of good corporate social responsibility performance and plays a vital role in improving not just communication, but also credibility and trust between organisations and their stakeholders.

“Sustainability reporting also provides a clear framework to allow shareholders and investors to compare companies on their CSR standing and track performance – both good and bad – year on year. Organisations which continuously fail to recognise the added business value gained by producing environmental reports risk becoming commercial relics. This is partly why in the UK for example, more than half the FTSE 250 are now reporting on environmental performance, compared with just over 10 per cent that produced such reports five years ago.

“Last year, an EU Multi-Stakeholder Forum on CSR was created by the Commission. The development of commonly agreed guidelines and criteria for CSR reporting was part of their remit. Their findings are due to be announced by mid-2004: ACCA will be monitoring with interest how this progresses and fits with existing Global Reporting Initiative guidelines.”

The judges are pleased to have received so many strong entries for this year’s awards but there is, however, a long way to go. Many more organisations should be reporting in this way and those that do still have room for improvement. For example, the Awards judges’ report highlighted that many more sustainability reports should disclose the lobbying positions taken by organisations on key public policy issues. Such disclosures demonstrate the level of internal commitment to sustainable development values and principles.

Notes to Editors:
1. The awards winners are detailed below.
Best sustainability report 2003
Novo Nordisk A/S, Denmark

Best environmental report 2003
Aalborg Portland A/S, Denmark

Commendation for Best SME report 2003
Slibverwerking Noord-Brabant (SNB), The Netherlands

Novo Nordisk is a world leader in diabetes care and develops, manufactures and markets pharmaceutical products and services.

Aalborg Portland is Denmark’s only cement producer and the world’s largest exporter of white cement.

NV Slibverwerking Noord-Brabant is The Dutch Waste Processing Association (VVAV). It represents the interests of composting firms, operators of incineration and landfill facilities and processors of waste in the developing European waste market. The association endeavours to optimalise the conditions under which these companies work to process waste in an environmentally sound and cost-effective manner.