The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has launched the Reporting Exchange, an online platform to help businesses navigate the confusing and fragmented world of corporate reporting requirements on environmental, social and governance issues (ESG).
The reporting exchange is a free online resource that allows anybody interested in corporate reporting of ESG information to find out what the reporting requirements are across the world, what reporting resources exist to support those requirements and what management resources exist to help management implement those requirements.
The platform currently hosts 1,776 reporting provisions covering 60 countries which, according to WBCSD managing director, redefining value & education Rodney Irwin, represent 93% of global GDP.
The platform will soon launch a Spanish version followed by a Japanese one and French, German, Italian and Portuguese, Irwin announced at the launch event of the English platform in the London Stock Exchange in September.
“Our aim is to build a global community of business, reporters, academics and others who contribute their knowledge and experience of the platform by adding and updating the requirements and resources,” Irwin said. “Sustainability reporting is not a competitive advantage, we want company to compete on performance not on methodology and therefore this resource is there to create that level playing field against which all companies can report transparently their performance and compete on performance not the theory behind the numbers that they produce.”
While the Reporting Exchange was created in partnership with many stakeholders, the brain behind this initiative is Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) founding director Lois Guthrie who in the mid noughties had the idea of creating a resource giving clarity on the corporate reporting landscape.
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“So now we know the landscape or at least 60 countries worth of it, yes it’s confused, yes it’s frustrating as the panellists have said, yes it is bewildering,” she said at the launch event. “However that is not necessarily a bad thing, it is healthy at this stage in the development of our understanding about how we are to collect information necessary for making decisions about a sustainable future.”
Some people have said that these different provisions are a bit like notes on a musical score, Guthrie continued, they just need orchestration to make a more harmonious sound.
“While we work out what to do there is actually a faithful scribe a faultless calculator and a superb bookkeeper that is keeping a record of what is happening to the planet and society and that is in the shape of the carbon cycle, the water cycle, natural systems, the hearts and minds of people. They are keeping the record and if we could read that record it would say crisis,” she said. “So now it is over to you, you’ve got to look at that system and look at what is needed for coherent policy making that is going to protect our society and planet. Have a look at it and come back to us where you see opportunities for synergies.”
The Reporting Exchange can be accessed here