Since the 1990s, the number of companies disclosing information on their environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance has grown significantly. For many large multinational companies (MNEs) sustainability reporting has become a mainstream phenomenon, while for many small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) reporting is still a challenge.

Reporting is growing in numbers. Around 4,000 reports are registered globally and 2,000 in Europe, but this is still quite limited compared to the total number of companies of around 82,000 MNEs and many more SMEs worldwide. We see this as a huge potential. There is a growing use of reporting schemes like the G3 Guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), and the Communication on Progress (COP) prescribed by the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), for a better exchange and comparability of business data.

There is an increasing cooperation between the different organisations involved in sustainability reporting. Nearly all of the various platforms and organisations promoting sustainability reporting have developed partnerships with the GRI. This includes the UN Global Compact, AccountAbility, ISO, OECD, UNEP, the Carbon Disclosure Project and many governments and sector organisations.

Reporting rankings, awards and schemes may constitute an interesting stimulus to the uptake of sustainability reporting and the quality of sustainability reports. Most stakeholders regard reporting schemes as a valuable tool to improve the quality of reporting and to improve comparability between companies. GRI is regarded as ‘the best available’ and ‘a good starting point’.

Source: GRI & The State of Play in Sustainability Reporting in the European Union