A decade of sustainability reporting: developments and significance
Since the publication of the first separate environmental reports in 1989, the number of companies that has started to publish information on its environmental, social or sustainability policies and/or impacts has increased substantially. This article gives an overview of worldwide trends in the frequencies of reporting in the past decade, based on surveys carried out since the early 1990s. Although clear differences between countries and sectors can be noted, reporting continues to rise, and there is a clear tendency towards the inclusion of societal, and sometimes also financial, issues. The article also analyses the latest developments with regard to the contents of these sustainability reports, focusing on economic aspects and business drivers, stakeholder dialogue and feedback, and benchmarking of performance. The final section discusses the significance of reporting, introducing the concept of 'implementation likelihood', and the components of an analytical scheme to assess this for sustainability reports.
Keywords: benchmarking, business drivers, implementation likelihood, international comparison, performance measurement, stakeholders, sustainability reporting, environmental reporting, sustainability reports, environmental reports