Sustainability reporting needs board level buy-in, says Defra

Businesses must take a long-term view to sustainability reporting if they want create cost savings, improve resource efficiency and attract investors, according to a Defra spokesperson.

Setting the tone for the Smarter Sustainability Reporting conference, organised by edie’s sister publication Sustainable Business (SB), in London yesterday (May 15), was Defra’s deputy director of green economy & resource efficiency Sabine Mosner, who said that sustainability reporting promises to put the UK’s transition to the green economy on the right path – and could act as a “driver for action”.

However, she said that as the challenge of meeting government green targets will feed through into business commitments that further effort is needed in sustainability reporting. This, she said will require innovation, adding that “there’s no room for complacency”.

“Businesses need to press the case for sustainability reporting”, she said as “investors want an account of sustainability to be made”. This she explained is because there is good evidence that companies which report maintain long-term value.

Aldersgate Group (AG) executive director Andrew Raingold echoed this view, saying that “we need much more transparency”.

In his speech, Mr Raingold said that the voluntary approach to sustainability reporting has “run its course”, and said that while “measurement is a vital first step” that climate change would not be slowed by switching to renewables only – rather demand has also got to be reduced.

Commenting on a recent letter sent by the AG to the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg calling for mandatory carbon reporting (MCR) to be introduced, Mr Raingold said that “it is very clear that businesses get it, the public gets it and most politicians get it”.

This follows a delay by government last month to make a decision on MCR, which Mr Raingold argued could have a “huge” role to play in the UK’s low carbon future.

Despite this, Mr Raingold said he believes that current political objections to MCR will be overridden and it will go through.

Edie is urging businesses who are already actively reporting on their sustainability credentials to enter the Sustainability Reporting category of the Sustainability Leaders Awards 2012. The deadline for entries is June 15.

Carys Matthews

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