In this report we investigated the extent to which
the world’s large companies are disclosing the seven
“first generation” sustainability indicators: employee
turnover, energy, greenhouse gases (GHGs), lost-time
injury rate, payroll, waste and water. Analysis was
aggregated at the level of individual stock exchanges,
and included examination of disclosure rates
(2011), growth in disclosure rates (2007 – 2011) and
disclosure timeliness.
In order to review the relationship between corporate
sustainability disclosure and disclosure policy, an
inventory of 167 specific instruments was assembled,
with each instrument analyzed along three dimensions:
policy type, policy clarity and policy scope.
The report’s main findings are summarized below:
• The
BME Spanish Exchanges
, based in Spain,
had the highest overall score in this year’s
ranking, moving up from 4
position in last year’s
The strong showing of the BME
Spanish Exchanges reflects the comparatively
advanced reporting practices of large Spanish
listings, which may be aided by legislation recently
introduced by the Government of Spain.
• Stock exchanges based in emerging markets are
on track to
overtake those based in developed
markets by 2015
, in terms of the proportion of
their large listings that disclose the seven first
generation sustainability indicators. This would
constitute a watershed moment in the history of
corporate reporting, as the developed world has
effectively had a 20-year head start in driving
sustainability disclosure.
53 The BME Spanish Exchanges consist of the Madrid Stock Exchange, the
Valencia Stock Exchange, the Bilbao Stock Exchange and the Barcelona
Stock Exchange.
54 The Spanish Sustainable Economy Law Article 39, which entered into force
in 2011, contains reporting obligations for private and public companies as
well as guidelines for the inclusion of non-financial information in company
financial disclosures.
• Super policies—disclosure policies that are
mandatory, prescriptive
most strongly correlated with sustainability
disclosure excellence.
• After early and rapid gains prior to 2008, global
disclosure rates for most of the first generation
indicators are
flattening out
, indicating
a slowdown in the growth of quantitative
sustainability reporting by the world’s listed
Sustainability disclosure trends
• The global
Materials sector
, which consists primarily
of mining companies, is the world’s most transparent
from a first generation sustainability indicator
standpoint, while the
Financials sector
is the
most opaque.
• Large companies, defined as those with a market
cap in excess of US$2 billion,
are nearly 10 times
more likely
than small companies to engage in
quantitative sustainability reporting.
• Only
3% of the world’s large companies
out of 3,972) and
0.04% of the world’s small
(20 out of 56,710) currently offer
their stakeholders complete first generation
sustainability reporting.
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