Measuring the impacts of sustainability reporting in Hispanic America
Colombia and Peru
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is working with the UN Global Compact under funding from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Ministry for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands to improve sustainability performance and reporting of businesses in certain emerging markets.
Two of these countries, Colombia and Peru, face similar economic challenges related to the strength of public institutions and sustainable and inclusive urban growth. In each, reporting has become much more prominent as economic growth has burgeoned, with many companies utilizing the GRI framework.
To help quantify the impact reporting has had on business in these countries, GRI engaged ERM to undertake a baseline study to determine and examine the sustainability reporting practices of small- and medium-sized and multinational enterprises in selected countries. We conducted interviews with representatives of 20 local businesses currently reporting under GRI, focused on two groups: the leaders of the report development in the companies and those responsible at the corporate level for sustainability. Targeted businesses fell across a spectrum of economic sectors to provide robust data on the success of the SECO program in these geographies. Based on these interviews, ERM developed case studies that presented GRI with a detailed snapshot of reporting and sustainable business practices in these SECO-sponsored locations. ERM leveraged the process to identify best practices and formulate a methodology that GRI can use to identify future case studies for analysis.
From the results of the interviews, ERM identified a variety of internal and external benefits generated by the use of the GRI Guidelines, including:
- Understanding of risks and opportunities, the most relevant sustainability aspects and the link between the financial and nonfinancial performance;
- Benchmarking performance internally and between organizations and sectors;
- Engaging with employees and stakeholders;
- Improving company reputation and brand loyalty; and
- Recognizing sustainability impacts across the supply chain.
Furthermore, ERM identified best practices within Colombia and Peru, as well as challenges and opportunities for improvement in the reporting process. ERM’s baseline study will be used to help define the GRI’s newly established GRI Hispanic America hub, which will seek to work with all stakeholder groups in Colombia and Peru to increase awareness about GRI, build capacity around the use of the GRI Guidelines, and convene stakeholders to share experiences, knowledge and best practices of sustainability reporting.The hub also will strengthen the GRI mission of empowering decision-makers to take measures towards a more sustainable and global economy, aligned to four strategic priorities (facilitate smart public policy; more reporting companies, better reporting processes; beyond reports; and innovation and collaboration).