“This agreement demonstrates the EU’s strong commitment to corporate transparency and sustainability – supporting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, and paving the way for a sustainable global economy.”
In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a new version of the Report on Environment (the Report), outlining indicators that help the EPA monitor trends in the condition of the United States’ air, water, land, human exposure and health, ecological systems and sustainability. It is interesting to note that the EPA added sustainability as a new theme in 2014, responding to growing international concerns. The sustainability theme only has one indicator as of now, but the EPA plans to develop this theme by collaborating with a variety of stakeholders and considering three important aspects of sustainability- intensity of energy use, water use and materials use.
Source: EPA Website
The new version of the Report provides new features: a conceptual framework to show how indicators relate to EPA concerns, interactive graphing, statistical information, trends related to where you live, and information about what you can do to help. All of these tools and the Report itself demonstrate how the EPA values disclosure of sustainability information in order to manage environmental and human health concerns and to inform the public. The EPA invites public commentary on the new version of the Report until April 27, 2014.
What do these government initiatives for transparency mean for your company and its sustainability efforts?
In general, government expectations for transparency will likely advance the sustainability reporting spectrum; newcomers will join the sustainability reporting bandwagon and advanced reporters will disclose more sustainability data and management approaches. Stakeholder engagement will likely incorporate government agencies and representatives as more regulations enforce transparency.
In the United States, proactive involvement with the EPA through public commentary on the Report on Environment and other initiatives may become a source of competitive advantage. Companies can collaborate with government agencies to determine the trajectory of government sustainability initiatives going forward.
For current sustainability reporters following the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework, the Report on Environment may help inform materiality assessments, including:
Prioritizing material topics, considering United States trends in environmental and human health issues.
Measuring influence on stakeholders: Companies may want to interview more stakeholders affiliated with the government.
Determing significance to companies: The role of government will become more significant to companies both in terms of risk and compliance to regulations and in terms of opportunities for government collaboration.
Statement from the most senior decision-maker of the organization about relevance of sustainability to the organization and the organization’s strategy for addressing sustainability
Name of the organization
Primary brands, products, and services
Location of organization’s headquarters
Number of countries where the organization operates, and names of countries with significant operations or that are specifically relevant to the sustainability topics covered in the report
Nature of ownership and legal form
Scale of the reporting organization
Total workforce by employment type, employment contract, and region, broken down by gender
Percentage of total employees covered by collective bargaining agreements
Description of the organization’s supply chain
Significant changes during the reporting period regarding organization's size, structure, ownership, or supply chain
Whether and how the precautionary approach or principle is addressed by the organization
Externally developed economic, environmental, and social charters, principles, or other initiatives to which the organization subscribes or endorses
Memberships in associations and/or national/international advocacy organizations
Entities included in the organization consolidated financial and nonfinancial reports
Process for defining report content
Material aspects identified in the process for defining report content
For each material aspect, the aspect boundary within the organization
For each material aspect, the aspect boundary outside the organization
Explanation of the effect of and reasons for any restatements of information provided in earlier reports
Significant changes from previous reporting periods in the scope and aspect boundaries
List of stakeholder groups engaged by the organization
The basis for identification and selection of stakeholders with whom to engage
The organization’s approach to stakeholder engagement, including frequency of engagement by type and by stakeholder group, and an indication of whether any of the engagement was undertaken specifically as part of the report preparation process
Key topics and concerns that have been raised through stakeholder engagement, and how the organization has responded to those key topics and concerns, including through its reporting. Report the stakeholder groups that raised each of the key topics and concerns
Date of most recent previous report
Contact point for questions regarding the report or its contents
‘In accordance’ option and GRI Content Index
Policy and current practice with regard to seeking external assurance for the report
Governance structure of organization, including committees of the highest governance body
The organization’s values, principles, standards, and norms of behavior such as codes of conduct and codes of ethics
Disclosure on Management Approach for Aspect
Coverage of the organization’s defined benefit plan obligations.
Financial assistance received from government.
Significant indirect economic impacts, including the extent of impacts.
Total number and rates of new employee hires and employee turnover by age group, gender and region.
Average hours of training per year per employee, by gender and by employee category.
Percentage of employees receiving regular performance and career development reviews, by gender and by employee category.