Sustainability reporting is about more than transparency – it encourages innovation, fosters better business practice and optimises business performance
The Value of reporting
A growing awareness of the key role of sustainability in long-term value creation has led to reporting becoming common – or even essential – practice for large businesses, and it has gained traction among smaller companies too. As well as financial disclosure, stakeholders want transparency about a company’s environmental and social impact.
Not only does sustainability reporting lead to improved stakeholder trust and credibility, it can also optimise business performance and operational efficiency through the identification of new opportunities.
How we can help you
Whether you are embarking on your first sustainability reporting exercise or want to improve your current report, we can help ensure that your report is aligned with best practices and internationally recognised reporting standards. Working with you to develop your reporting framework, we will:
help implement appropriate and accurate data collection and calculation methods.
advise which performance indicators to disclose and which compliance level can reasonably be achieved.
suggest how you can optimise business processes affecting environmental and social performance.
provide recommendations on materiality assessment and improving engagement with your internal and external stakeholders.
We research and compare your company’s profile with that of similar firms in your industry, regionally and globally, in order to benchmark sustainability reporting practices and sustainability performance information.
We can also run a gap analysis on your last sustainability report to identify areas for improvement, such as full alignment with the GRI Standards, SGX reporting rules, UNGC or UNGP reporting requirements.
2. Reporting strategy and roadmap
We help define your reporting strategy in accordance with your sustainability agenda and goals. Through interaction with your key personnel, we delineate the report scope and boundaries, including key material issues, performance targets and procedures for stakeholder engagement and data collection.
At the end of this stage, we will provide you with a reporting roadmap.
3. Data collection
We advise you in the setting out of your report management structure and sustainability performance measurement processes. We also provide customised guidance to assist your data owners with the collection and processing of information and performance figures from your operations, business units and supply chain. Monitoring progress regularly, we ensure that the collected data will satisfy report criteria.
4. Content writing
We can work with your team to draft your report content according to the agreed reporting roadmap and ensure that disclosed statements and performance data are fully compliant with the reporting criteria and other sustainability guidelines.
Alternatively, we can write part – or all – of your report for you, and oversee the design process, including the development of an online version.
Our support continues after your report has been published. As well as monitoring the progress of your sustainability framework and the feedback from your data owners and stakeholders, we also check sustainability performance and provide recommendations on how to improve your next sustainability report. These recommendations may include the addition of new indicators or adapting your internal processes, including data collection and calculation procedures.
Our reporting methodology can be customised to any business size and industry. If you are looking to revise and improve an existing report, you can select only those steps of our methodology and the standards that are appropriate to your particular requirements. If you do not have a broader sustainability strategy, we can also assist you to develop one.
Ere-S reporting services are founded on the production of sustainability reports for large corporations and on a strong track record in sustainability report assurance and verification across various industries and sustainability contexts.
Our experience in thorough assessment of information in reports and the associated processes for data collection and calculation ensures that the advice we provide to our reporting clients aligns with the highest quality standards and encompasses sustainability strategies that go beyond the writing of a report
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is the most widely used framework for sustainability reporting. GRI standards provide guidance on how companies can disclose their environmental, social and economic profile and performance. The latest version of the framework, the GRI Standards, is composed of a set of three Universal Standards applicable to all organisations and a series of Topic-specific Standards.
The Universal Standards
Foundation (GRI 101) The foundation includes the basic requirements for using the standards, including the principles for defining report content and the principles for defining report quality.
General Disclosures (GRI 102) The general disclosures cover general information about a company’s context, including its strategy, profile and approaches on reporting and engaging with stakeholders.
Management Approach (GRI 103) The disclosures on management approach describe the processes used by an organisation to address its sustainability issues.
The Topic-specific Standards
Economic (GRI 200) series 6 standards on economic topics
Environmental (GRI 300) series 8 standards on environmental topics
Social (GRI 400) series 19 standards on social topics
The 200, 300 and 400 series of standards define all performance indicators (disclosures) for particular material issues and give guidance on their interpretation and compilation into the sustainability report. For example, ‘GRI 303: Water and Effluents (2018)’ sets out the reporting requirements of the following disclosures related to water: GRI 303-1 (Interactions with water as a shared resource), GRI 303-2 (Management of water discharge-related impacts) and GRI 303-3 (Water withdrawal), GRI 303-4 (Water discharge) and GRI 303-5 (Water consumption).
GRI Standards define two levels of compliance: ‘Core’ and ‘Comprehensive’, with the second option imposing a much higher number of disclosures (general and topic-specific).
The AA1000 AccountAbility Assurance Standard (2008) is intended primarily for assurance providers. Based on adherence to AA1000AP (principles of inclusivity, materiality, responsiveness), it assists them in the evaluation of the management systems, procedures and policies that support a company’s stakeholder engagement framework.
AA1000AS has the following characteristics:
Two types of assessment
Type 1: Assessment of an organisation’s level of adherence to AA1000AP
Type 2: Assessment of an organisation's level of adherence to AA1000AP and the reliability of information specific to its sustainability performance
Two levels of assessment
High assurance: Assessment of processes and data is performed to reduce the risk of error in the final conclusions of the assurance to a very low level. High assurance requires extensive depth of evidence gathering at all levels of the organisation, including external stakeholders.
Moderate assurance: Assessment of processes and data is performed to reduce the risk of error in the final conclusions of the assurance at a limited level. Evidence gathering restricted to corporate level, with limited sampling of data, is sufficient for moderate assurance.
These two levels of assessment are similar to the ISAE 3000 levels (limited assurance and reasonable assurance).
AA1000AS also provides specific guidelines on the content and format for the assurance certificate (statement) to be included in the assessed sustainability report.
When used in conjunction with the GRI Standards and ISAE 3000, AA1000AS is an effective tool for a comprehensive evaluation of a company’s sustainability reporting framework and for the additional reliability it provides to the sustainability report.
A new version of AA1000AS is expected to be published in 2019.
The first AA1000AS evaluations in Singapore were carried out by Ere-S in 2010 to assure the sustainability reports of City Developments Limited and PowerSeraya Limited. Since then, more local companies have adopted the AA1000 AccountAbility Assurance standard for their reports.
AA1000AP (A1000 AccountAbility Principles)
The AA1000AP (2018) can be used by organisations to develop internal approaches for sustainability issues identification and stakeholder engagement. AA1000AP consist of the following four principles:
Inclusivity: How an organisation engages with stakeholders and involves them in organisational decision making
Materiality: How an organisation identifies the issues relevant and significant to it and its stakeholders and includes these in its disclosures
Responsiveness: How an organisation responds to stakeholder issues and feedback through decisions, actions, performance and communication
Impact: How an organisation monitors and measures its actions and the impacts they have on stakeholders
AA1000AP is also linked to other standards from AccountAbility, such as the AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard (AA1000SES) which is based on the above four principles. Similarly, the evaluation criteria of the AA1000 Assurance Standard (AA1000AS) also include the principles of AA1000AP.
AA1000SES (2015) is based on the principles of AA1000AP and includes the definition of the main stakeholder groups as well as the objectives and scope of engagement. The purpose of AA1000SES is to initiate dialogue between an organisation and its stakeholders, jointly identify key issues, and develop appropriate mitigating actions.
The AA1000SES guidelines and criteria are presented in four parts:
Objectives and scope of the standard
Organisational commitment and stakeholder integration
Definition of objectives and parameters of stakeholder involvement
The CDP is an international initiative that collects information on greenhouse gas (GHG) from corporations as well as cities.
Organisations contributing to CDP programme are invited to respond annually to a questionnaire on their greenhouse gas emissions. The questionnaire covers the company's profile, its managerial practices, the risks and opportunities in its sector, and its performance on the control of its GHG emissions. Requirements on the disclosure of emissions data are based on the GHG Protocol standards.
The data collected is reviewed and used to produce CDP reports that are offered to investors, organisations, governments, and other entities participating in the initiative.
When requested by the customer, we carry out our services and recommendations on performance measurement and reporting based on the criteria of the CDP to ensure that the calculation methods and the client's GHG emission information are aligned with the requirements of the CDP questionnaire and the GHG Protocol.
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) consists of a series of standards for businesses’ and governments’ accounting and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions. The GHG Protocol for businesses includes a main standard (Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard) and three other standards covering the accounting of climate change mitigation (Project Protocol), the value chain (Corporate Value Chain - Scope 3 - Standard) and the emissions of a product's full life cycle (Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard).
The elements of the main standard include the GHG Accounting and Reporting Principles (relevance, completeness, consistency, transparency and accuracy), setting organisational and operational boundaries, identifying, calculating, reporting and verifying GHG emissions.
The classification and calculation of GHG emissions are based on three scopes of application:
Scope 1: Direct emissions that originated from sources owned or controlled by the organisation
Scope 2: Indirect emissions resulting from the consumption of purchased electricity, heat or steam
Scope 3: Indirect emissions resulting from upstream and downstream activities of the organisation
We rely on the GHG Protocol for our reporting and performance measurement services. In our assurance and validation procedures, we also use the principles and definitions found in the GHG Protocol to validate the calculation and reporting procedures used by our clients. The standard is particularly crucial when assessing a sustainability reporting framework under the ISAE 3410 guidelines.
The International Standard on Assurance Engagements (ISAE) 3000 covers assurance engagements other than audits or reviews of historical financial information. The standard is used to guide assurance practitioners in setting an effective methodology to assess a company’s internal processes and performance information.
ISAE 3000 includes requirements for all stages of an assurance engagement, such as planning, assessment of material and risk factors, liability of the practicing professional, and format and content of the report to be delivered at the end of the engagement. It also requires that the assurance engagement contains quality control procedures and be carried out by the practicing professional in accordance with the independence and other ethical requirements of the Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants, issued by the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (the IESBA Code).
ISAE 3000 defines two levels of assurance, limited or reasonable. The reasonable level is the most stringent and requires obtaining sufficient evidence to reduce assurance engagement risks to an acceptably low level. These levels of assurance are similar to the AA1000AS levels (moderate assurance and high assurance).
Although ISEA 3000 is not a regulatory requirement and does not require the assurance provider to be registered or certified, we have fully incorporated ISAE 3000 guidelines (and ISAE 3410 for disclosures on GHG management and performance) in our assurance methodology to ensure our engagements are carried out under high standards for audit quality and ethics.
ISAE 3410 covers assurance engagements on greenhouse gas (GHG) statements. While it is built on ISAE 3000, it focuses on the assessment methodologies for performance measurement and reporting processes that are specific to GHG emissions.
We base our assessment of data collection and calculation processes on the guidance and criteria from ISAE 3410 for assurance of reports that contain comprehensive disclosures on GHG management and performance or when assisting our clients in implementing processes for measurement of carbon emissions.
Issued by the International Organisation for Standardisation, ISO 26000 is a framework of principles and integration methods for social responsibility that have been developed to encourage organisations to make voluntary commitment and contribution to sustainable development. ISO 26000 provides guidelines on concepts, definitions and methods of evaluation that organisations can refer to, regardless of their nature, size and varying levels of development of the society in which they operate.
The standard is developed around clauses that set out business approach to sustainability. The major clauses are the Principles of Social Responsibility, the Fundamental Practices of Social Responsibility, the Social Responsibility Core Subjects and the Integration of Social Responsibility through an Organisation.
The most significant part of ISO 26000 is represented by its core subjects mentioned below. For each of them, the standard defines a set of issues in social responsibility and sustainability (for example, human rights risk situations; conditions of work and social protection; climate change mitigation and adaptation; wealth and income creation) and the related actions and expectations (for example, developing a human rights policy; preventing the release of GHG emissions, etc.).
ISO 26000 Social Responsibility Core Subjects:
Fair operating practices
Community involvement and development
Note that ISO 26000 is not a management system standard and, as it does not contain requirements, is not intended or appropriate for certification or assurance purposes.
ISO 26000 does not conflict with other corporate sustainability instruments such as the GRI Standards and AA1000 standards; rather, they complement each other. Ere-S recommends their combination as the key to a solid sustainability framework.
Through our strategy, reporting and validation services, we assist organisations in assessing the application level of ISO 26000 and maximising its usefulness and impact in the context of the client’s industry, priorities and management strategies.
UN Global Compact
The UN Global Compact (UNGC) is a voluntary UN initiative aimed at encouraging organisations to adopt sustainable practices. The UNGC is based on a series of ten principles relating to human rights, labour law, the environment and the fight against corruption.
Organisations that are signatories to the UNGC commit themselves to implementing the principles of the Pact and to report annually on the progress made in their integration. This "Communication on Progress", or COP, requires the signatories to publish a declaration of accession to the Pact, a description of the measures taken and the results obtained. Signatories are classified according to three levels of COP disclosure: Level GC Learner, Level GC Active and Level GC Advanced.
In its mission to develop corporate sustainability and reporting strategies, Ere-S ensures that client sustainability practices, especially UNGC signatories, are aligned with the principles of the Pact. At the request of the client, we can also take care of document submission to the COP.