An innovative new award is being launched to promote sustainability reporting around the world.
The GRI Readers Choice Award has been designed to give all sustainability report users worldwide a voice on sustainability reporting today. After extensive preparations by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and ACCA, together with other partners, the first world wide online sustainability reporting awards scheme will launch on 1 October 2007.
A new concept
The GRI network pioneered the Readers Choice Award concept as a way to capture the preferences of readers, but also as a way to alert potential new readers to the value of sustainability information available to them today.
'The award will draw attention to the fact that sustainability reporting complements traditional reporting by offering shareholders and stakeholders' insight into sustainability as one of the most burning issues of our times, ' said Mervyn E. King, chair of the GRI board of directors. The board approved the concept at their May meeting.
KPMG and SustainAbility, the leading global sustainability reporting trend monitors, will conduct a survey in conjunction with the award and publish their cutting edge analysis of the results next year. 'The survey will give better insight into the identity and views of sustainability report users around the world' said Wim Bartels, partner at KPMG. 'The draw for us is that this has never been done before – putting ourselves in the report readers' shoes will reveal insights that are bound to change the way companies report from now on' remarked Mark Lee, CEO of SustainAbility.
'There are other award schemes out there, but all are jury based,' said Jacqueline Aloisi de Larderel, former director of UNEP's Division of Technology, Industry, and Economics. 'This time companies will hear a verdict – but it will be straight from the mouths of their own stakeholders.' Ms Larderel is chairing a committee of prominent experts who are overseeing the design and implementation of the award system.
ACCA takes a leadership role
ACCA runs the most prestigious jury-based sustainability reporting awards schemes in Europe, North America, Africa and Asia. 'We didn't hesitate to take a leadership role and partner with GRI in the concept's early days,' said Roger Adams, ACCA's technical director. 'It's a complementary approach, and will be a major factor in driving best practice in reporting worldwide.'
There will be five main awards issued – based on the perspectives of key information user communities such as investors, labour, civil society, employees/management, and media. Special awards will also be given to the highest scoring reports from a non-business organization, from an organization headquartered in a non-OECD country, and for a small company. There will be an award for the overall winner.
Both the Global Readers' Choice Awards and the survey results will be presented during The Amsterdam Global Conference on Sustainability and Transparency, which will be hosted by the city of Amsterdam, and is supported by the Netherlands Government, UNEP, and with the involvement of businesses, NGOs, labour, and investors active in GRI's worldwide network. This is GRI's second international conference, and will be held 7 - 9 May, 2008.
'While most will agree that transparency through sustainability reporting is essential in our global pursuit of sustainability, little is known about the views and experience of intended readers – the users – and how sustainability reporting influences markets and stakeholder relations,' said Ernst Ligteringen, chief executive of the Global Reporting Initiative when asked what inspired the development of the Readers Choice concept over the past year.
Your opinion counts
From 1 October 2007 you are invited to score the sustainability reports issued by companies that you work for, own stock in, are neighbours with, report on, or do business with at the Global Reporting Initiative website – please click on the link under 'see also'.
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