Nigel Topping, chief innovation officer of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), believes that one of the main traits sustainability reporting needs to have in order to be successful is convergence, both in terms of standards and approaches, he says in an interview published by the Sustainable Business Forum.
He states that adopting a more holistic approach when disclosing an organisation´s economic, environmental, social and governance performance is also key to making sustainability reporting smarter.
Topping further says that comparing a utility company with a general retailer is not an easy task to handle. As such, sustainability reporting needs to be sector-specific and this can be achieved by developing an in-depth understanding of the expectations and impacts in a particular industry. The success of sustainability reporting is also linked with the way information is presented, so adjusting reporting formats to the different audiences, including investors, is also important.
In order to encourage more companies to adopt sustainability reporting the CDP, a not-for-profit organisation, has been hosting training courses to assist companies in devising clear standards, to boost their data collection capacity and to push data assurance. In 2012 the assurance level among the world´s 500 largest companies went up by about 40%, Topping said, giving an indication of the CDP´s success in persuading businesses that verifying data independently results in greater credibility. The organisation encouraged this by giving higher scores for assurance, in a move intended to promote the disclosure of verified and accurate data rather than just disclosing data.