HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsSustainability reporting, financial reporting versus environmental reporting

Sustainability reporting, financial reporting versus environmental reporting

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The term sustainability has permeated all frontiers and horizons, proving to be a cross-cutting word.

Guest Column with Peter Makwanya

From an environmental buzz word, to corporate and social buzzword, has seen the term gain lots of prominence, as well as being also distorted along the way due to various interpretations.

In simple terms, a sustainability report is about a corporate’s financial, environmental and social performance.

Sustainability reports provide companies with opportunities to evaluate and communicate their economic, environmental, and social governance performance in order to manage change more effectively.

But as fate would have it, of late, many companies have been found on the wrong side of the law by being only obsessed with reporting financial issues minus the environmental ones.

Those companies that have been found on the wrong side of the law may actually not be the rogue ones because they cared to report on something, while the majority of them in developing countries don’t seem to care about reporting their activities or worse still to be found sharing their activities with the public.

As such, their activities are shrouded in secrecy, while the environment suffers from toxins, greenhouse gas emissions, degradation and destructive tendencies of any nature contributing to the 21st century corporate madness.

Sustainability reporting is supposed to change the world by covering diverse ecological issues as well as helping to shape ecological attitudes according to local and global standards for the sustainable future we want.

Sustainability reporting is not only deeply rooted in business, environmental and social protection, but also in transparent corporate communication too.

Sustainability reporting is supposed to be the fundamental communication channel, which all organisations should have with their stakeholders.

Designed as a tool for every company, sustainability reporting is supposed to share its environmental protection, performance and management practices, sadly, many corporates decide to conceal their environmental stewardship and duty in preference to financial reporting.

Because the prime aim of getting into business is to make money, it is important to consider ecological issues bordering on human supply chains and the people’s livelihoods.

Issues of the companies’ energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and environmental benefits are usually masked, paid lip-service to, as well shrouded in jargon.

Many companies think disclosing their carbon emissions would be detrimental to their business.

Some greenhouse gas emitting companies ignore social responsibilities, which are meant to uplift the standards of living for the communities in which they are operating in.

As such, these companies are supposed to demonstrate, in their reports, that they are adding value to the environment rather than destroying it.

For quite a long time, humanity and aquatic creatures have borne the brunt of toxic pollutants, discharge of industrial waste into streams, rivers, lakes, and seas, as well as release of mine dust into the residential arrears without any form of compensation.

Some multinational companies plunder and loot resources especially from developing countries and vanish without engaging in corporate social responsibility.

The public need to be kept informed about how their environment is being protected from the effects of global warming.

It is always, business profits first, while environmental ethics are thrown into the dustbin.

Sustainability reporting is a powerful change agent and as such, companies are urged to strengthen in this regard.

It is also significant that sustainability reporting should not be independent from existing supply and value chains critical for people’s livelihoods.

Companies need not to report simply because they have to be seen doing something, but they need to be accountable and engaging too.

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