The number of companies listed on the São Paulo stock exchange, BM&FBOVESPA, which publish a sustainability report or explain why if they do not, rose from 203 to 293 between May 2012 and June 2013. The addition of these 90 companies represents an increase from 45 to 66 percent of companies that are now in BM&FBOVESPA’s Report or Explain voluntary initiative, launched in December 2011.
The exchange is one of more than 20 members of GRI’s Report or Explain Campaign Forum, which aims to provide a convening space for all organizations wanting to drive sustainability disclosure as a mainstream management and accountability tool, and that believe that sustainability reporting is necessary and beneficial in doing so.
“This news from our Forum member, BM&FBOVESPA, of the increase in the number of companies following this initiative is extremely promising,” says GRI’s Deputy Chief Executive, Teresa Fogelberg, who heads up the Report or Explain Campaign Forum at GRI. “We need more companies to follow suit and start reporting, or explain why if they choose not to. Transparent and smart sustainability reporting policy is an indispensable tool for progressing towards a sustainable green economy. To help make this goal a reality, it is vital that companies are encouraged to be more transparent about the information they choose to disclose.”
Along with the São Paulo stock exchange, there are a number of other market regulators and policy makers that have developed requirements and guidelines to promote sustainability reporting and disclosure. Australia, China, Denmark, the European Union, France, India, Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the USA have all established governmental policy initiatives. Other stock exchanges in China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan and South Africa are also playing a pivotal role in requiring or recommending listed companies to disclose sustainability information.
Whether encouraged by government legislation, policy initiatives or stock exchange listing requirements, the Report or Explain approach offers all large companies the clarity and guidance needed to progress towards sustainability, while removing the uncertainties and confusion surrounding purely voluntary reporting.
In a speech delivered at a KPMG summit in New York last year, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated that business and investors have a true opportunity to show leadership and contribute to the goal of mainstreaming corporate sustainability. He added that companies need to be encouraged to report their sustainability performance or explain why if they do not. The speech marked an important milestone for advocates of sustainability reporting and for GRI’s Report or Explain Campaign Forum.
BM&FBOVESPA’s Report or Explain voluntary initiative has come a long way. The exchange’s ultimate aim is to encourage all listed companies to publish a sustainability report or similar document, thereby offering greater transparency to the market.