AHC Group

Publish and be damned

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Courtesy of AHC Group

Just as effective environmental and social reporting now enhances corporate performance, greater disclosure on environmental performance also enhances investment appeal.

There is a long history of the development of disclosure in financial reporting. As issues arise, financial analysts, regulators, investors and creditors raise a call for greater disclosure, which is eventually heeded by the accounting profession and perhaps formalized by the Financial Accounting Standards Board so that this disclosure becomes required in financial statements. Examples are pension fund liability and use of derivatives.

On the environmental and social fronts, disclosure is a much more recent issue. Now there is a constantly increasing call for greater disclosure, both in terms of specific products (e.g., the European Commission just passed the world's most stringent rules on the labeling of genetically modified foods on July 25, 2001) and in terms of overall corporate performance (e.g., in July 2000, the United Kingdom issued regulations requiring pension funds to state how they considered environmental, social and ethical issues in their investment decisions; this same regulation is now being adopted in France, Germany, and parts of Scandinavia, and is under consideration in Japan).

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