Bureau Veritas exposes challenges of sustainability reporting

Despite organisations being aware of the importance of responsible sustainability reporting, new industry insights reveal that many still face significant challenges when producing complex data-driven disclosures.

According to research by Bureau Veritas, only a third (34%) of those surveyed currently publish a sustainability report, however, more than three quarters (76%) expect to produce one over the next few years.

When questioned on the drivers for businesses compiling such a report; increasing customer trust, enhancing shareholder value, and ensuring regulatory compliance came out top.

The survey of 1,000 clients across varying sectors, also divulges that three quarters (75%) rate their management above average regarding engagement with sustainability reporting. Encouragingly, more than two-thirds (68%) already have an in-house expert or CSR department to oversee their ESG strategy.

With mandatory assurance coming soon under the EU’s new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, Bureau Veritas commissioned this global report to assess the sustainability reporting landscape across the world and advise on the next steps to ensure compliance. Of those questioned, around a third aren’t even aware of any such initiative or legislation that will affect their reporting requirements.

Companies are still not well equipped to aggregate their ESG data with four-fifths (81%) admitting they would benefit from more education on standards and good reporting practices. Topping the list of the most required additional resources are knowledge, tools for emissions calculations, time, and budget constraints.

Barriers to organisations producing the specific industry report include data collection, the complex number of frameworks surrounding it, and insufficient internal resources.

David Murray, Technical Director for Sustainability at Bureau Veritas said, “We undertook this research to strengthen further our forward-thinking and ambitious five-year strategy focussing on maximising sustainability solutions for clients.

“Sustainability landscape reporting is a highly technical subject that is still evolving. It comes with many challenges including how to evaluate and adapt data collection to facilitate the results. Our survey clearly shows positive awareness of the impacts of reporting, however, there remains a lack of knowledge and understanding related to gathering intrinsic data.

“The time for businesses to act on voluntary assurance is now before it becomes mandatory and that is where our team of experts at Bureau Veritas can offer their expertise and advice as a third-party assurance service partner to help verify and process the report. We can help identify gaps in a lower-risk environment than when it is driven by legislation.

“As external advisors, we are able to help navigate this difficult transition period for clients and advice how businesses can get started immediately by verifying their report voluntarily to be ready for compliance later on.”

Encouragingly, half of those surveyed by Bureau Veritas are already seeking support from specialist consultants to help them navigate the reporting process. When asked about the drivers for third-party verification or assurance, the top reasons for investing were to ensure the accuracy, relevance, completeness, and consistency of the information reported, to demonstrate the depth of commitment to social and environmental accountability, and to provide additional confidence for SRI (socially responsible investment) decision making.

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