New figures released recently show that the number of companies and other organizations publicly disclosing their performance against a range of key sustainability indicators has risen markedly over the last year.  The Global Reporting Initiative is now tracking of over 1000 organizations worldwide who issued sustainability reports based on the GRI G3 Guidelines in 2008 – the highest number ever recorded. The figure represents an increase of 46 per cent on the 2007 figure of 685.

Of the sustainability reports that GRI is aware of, more are produced in Spain than any other country, beating the United States into second place.  Europe is home to 49% of the reporters known to GRI, followed by Asia on 15%, North America on 14%, Latin America on 12%, with 6% from Oceania and 4% from Africa.

The GRI G3 Guidelines set out the principles and indicators that organizations can use to measure and report their economic, environmental, and social performance.  The guidance was developed, and continues to evolve, through a process in which representatives from businesses, civil society, finance, labor, academia and others seek consensus on a common framework for reporting on issues of common concern  – such as greenhouse gas emissions, labor standards and human rights.

The Top Ten Countries Are:

1. Spain     128
2. USA     100
3. Brazil     64
4 = Australia     56
4 = UK     56
6. Japan     49
7 = Germany     41
7 = South Africa          41
9. Italy     38
10. Canada     36

Furthermore, many companies listed in the world’s leading stock markets now issue GRI-based sustainability reports including 64% of Germany’s DAX 30, 48% of France’s CAC 40, 22% of the UK’s FTSE 100 and 13% of the US’ S&P 500.  However, with the exception of Germany’s relatively small DAX (30 companies),  companies in the major stock market indices reporting on their sustainability performance using the common framework provided by GRI are still in the minority

“If sustainability data was just something that was ‘nice to know’ about a company –  providing niche investors with data for short-term investment decisions or helping employees feel good about their company –  then this wouldn’t be so much of a problem, said GRI Chief Executive Ernst Ligteringen.  However this information is more important than that.  As we face a sustainability crisis that could ultimately even threaten our very existence as a species,  we need to know how our companies are positioned to rise to the challenges, provide solutions and adapt to coming changes,”

“Thus public access to organizations’ economic, environmental and social performance is necessary if we are to inform ourselves of the effects of the choices we make in the purchase of products and services and the effects of the business models we adopt,“ added Ligteringen.

In order to further increase the quantity and quality of organizational sustainability disclosure, the Board of Directors of the Global Reporting Initiative this year issued the Amsterdam Declaration on Transparency and Reporting in which they called on governments to introduce policy requiring companies to either report on their sustainability performance or explain why they won’t.

Click here to see the full GRI Online Reporters Database

© 2009, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Tracey de Morsella (323 Articles)

Tracey de Morsella started her career working as an editor for US Technology Magazine. She used that experience to launch Delaware Valley Network, a publication for professionals in the Greater Philadelphia area. Years later, she used the contacts and resources she acquired to work in executive search specializing in technical and diversity recruitment. She has conducted recruitment training seminars for Wachovia Bank, the Department of Interior and the US Postal Service. During this time, she also created a diversity portal called The Multicultural Advantage and published the Diversity Recruitment Advertising Toolkit, a directory of recruiting resources for human resources professionals. Her career and recruitment articles have appeared in numerous publications and web portals including Woman Engineer Magazine, Monster.com, About.com Job Search Channel, Workplace Diversity Magazine, Society for Human Resource Management web site, NSBE Engineering Magazine, HR.com, and Human Resource Consultants Association Newsletter. Her work with technology professionals drew her to pursuing training and work in web development, which led to a stint at Merrill Lynch as an Intranet Manager. In March, she decided to combine her technical and career management expertise with her passion for the environment, and with her husband, launched The Green Economy Post, a blog providing green career information and covering the impact of the environment, sustainable building, cleantech and renewable energy on the US economy. Her sustainability articles have appeared on Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation, Chem.Info,FastCompany and CleanTechies.