Sustainability reporting is not just report generation from collected data; instead it is a method to internalize and improve an organization’s commitment to sustainable development in a way that can be demonstrated to both internal and external stakeholders.
Corporate sustainability reporting has a history going back to environmental reporting. The first environmental reports were published in the late 1980s by companies in the chemical industry which had serious image problems. The other group of early reporters was a group of committed small and medium-sized businesses with very advanced environmental management systems. Additionally, the tobacco industry adopted such reporting much earlier than the rest of the corporate world, in an attempt to attract new investors at a time when ethical investing was becoming increasingly popular.
Non-financial reporting, such as sustainability and CSR reporting, is a fairly recent trend which has expanded over the last twenty years. Many companies now produce an annual sustainability report and there are a wide array of ratings and standards around. There are a variety of reasons that companies choose to produce these reports, but at their core they are intended to be "vessels of transparency and accountability". Often they also intended to improve internal processes, engage stakeholders and persuade investors.
Organizations can improve their sustainability performance by measuring (EthicalQuote (CEQ)), monitoring and reporting on it, helping them have a positive impact on society, the economy, and a sustainable future. The key drivers for the quality of sustainability reports are the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), (ACCA) award schemes or rankings. The GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines enable all organizations worldwide to assess their sustainability performance and disclose the results in a similar way to financial reporting. The largest database of corporate sustainability reports can be found on the website of the United Nations Global Compact initiative.
- "Sustainability Reporting". Globalreporting.org. Retrieved 2014-08-27.
- Rosie Bristow for the Guardian Professional Network. "Online discussion: sustainability reporting | Guardian Sustainable Business". theguardian.com. Retrieved 2014-08-27.
- Archived April 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- Schaltegger, S.; Bennett, M. & Burritt, R., eds. (2006). Sustainability Accounting and Reporting. Dordrecht: Springer.
- 360report Glossary Definitions of terms concerning sustainability reporting
- GRI Reports List - Global Reporting Initiative Reports List (1999 - current). GRI's mission is to make sustainability reporting standard practice by providing guidance and support to organizations.
- The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) A global coalition of regulators, investors, companies, standard setters, the accounting profession and NGOs. The coalition is promoting communication about value creation as the next step in the evolution of corporate reporting.
- Non-Financial Reporting and CSR Resource Centre is focused on the topic of environmental / sustainability / social reporting and provides fully descriptive links which are in its international section listed in 30 categories.