Advancing Environmental Disclosure in Sustainability Reporting

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* Report: Raising the Bar - Advancing Environmental Disclosure in Sustainability Reporting. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 2015.



"This global cross-sector report assesses the environmental dimension of sustainability reporting and provides recommendations to make environmental reporting relevant to all stakeholders. It analyses what the key and most common environmental disclosure items are and provides practical recommendations for companies and other reporting organizations on how these items should be measured and reported, supported with best practice examples. In addition, it explores emerging areas of research in this domain, as well as innovative reporting practices." (


"Companies are failing to accurately reflect the scale and extent of their environmental impacts, a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has found.

In the case of greenhouse gas emissions, only 9 out of 108 (8 per cent) surveyed companies have established reduction targets in accordance with the science-based target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius - the central goal of the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, December 2015.

Launched today at the Reporting 3.0 Conference in Berlin, Germany, the report, Raising the Bar - Advancing Environmental Disclosure in Sustainability Reporting, calls on companies to do more to address the environmental and social impacts of their operations, as required in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

UNEP's analysis of 108 company sustainability reports found that they typically disclose data on four key areas:

  1. Greenhouse Gas Emissions (reported by 95 per cent of surveyed companies);
  2. Energy (83 per cent);
  3. Water (81 per cent);
  4. Materials/Waste (75 per cent).

However, the quality of these reports is insufficient to represent the full impacts of a company's use of resources and materials on the environment and on communities. Such information would improve corporate decision-making and add value to businesses in the short and long terms.

"Corporate sustainability reporting needs to be rapidly elevated from focusing on incremental, isolated improvements to corporate environmental impacts," said Arab Hoballah, Chief of UNEP's Sustainable Cities and Lifestyles Branch. "It should instead serve to catalyze business operations along value chains to achieve the kind of transformative change necessary to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals and objectives by 2030. This is precisely what is needed to encourage countries and companies to act effectively at their respective levels."

The report urges more action and accountability, especially when addressing water and resources use, which may also unlock other possible emissions sources in value chains. It also calls for companies to set sustainability goals based on science-based targets." (

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