unctad.org | Corporate Responsibility Reporting
Corporate Responsibility Reporting
 
Background
 
Since its 18th session, ISAR has viewed reporting on corporate responsibility as one of the emerging issues in the area of corporate transparency. Within the framework of its mandate to promote harmonization of best practices in corporate reporting, ISAR agreed at its twentieth session to "begin examining existing indicators so that corporate social responsibility reports would be comparable and would not impose unreasonable burdens on enterprises in developing countries".
 
The work of ISAR in the area of corporate responsibility reporting takes place within a broader international context of work by other international organizations on various aspects of this subject. Such work includes the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the ILO Tripartite Declaration, the United Nations Global Compact and the Millennium Development Goals, and the Global Reporting Initiative’s Guidelines on Sustainability Reporting, among others. The proliferation of global conventions and guidelines on CR has led to a growing general awareness of CR issues in developed and developing countries. As a result, there is increasing demand for guidance on reporting information in this area.
 
Environmental issues are recognized as an important feature of corporate responsibility. These issues are addressed both within ISAR´s work on CR reporting as well as its more specific work on environmental accounting and reporting.

Objectives
 
The aim of UNCTAD´s work in this area is to assist developing countries and countries with economies in transition to improve their enterprises´ communication with stakeholders in order to strengthen their ability to attract investment capital and develop international business linkages. UNCTAD works towards this aim by promoting the use of comparable responsibility indicators in corporate reporting.
 
Outcome
 
Since the 18th session of ISAR in 2001, the Secretariat has organized several roundtables, workshops and ad hoc consultations, which featured a broad range of stakeholders and experts in the field of corporate responsibility. As a result of these deliberations, ISAR produced the publication Guidance on Corporate Responsibility Indicators in Annual Reports. (Also available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.).
 
The work of ISAR also includes a number of studies on corporate responsibility reporting practices around the world. The most recent of these is the 2009 review of climate change disclosures among the world’s largest 100 TNCs. In 2009, UNCTAD’s work in this area also included a high-level CEO dialogue on Sustainable Stock Exchanges co-hosted with the PRI and the Global Compact.
 
Previous UNCTAD studies include the 2008 review of corporate responsibility reporting which examines the reporting practices of 100 enterprises from 10 emerging markets, and the 2008 review of the corporate responsibility performance of large emerging market enterprises, which was produced in cooperation with EIRIS.
In 2008, UNCTAD’s work in this area also included two joint events with the PRI, one in February of 2008 which highlighted the Standard and Poor’s ESG Index for India, and one in November 2008 which facilitated an investor and policy maker dialogue on responsible investment.
 
Also in November 2008, UNCTAD signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Global Reporting Initiative. This new Programme of Cooperation is aimed at promoting in developing countries and transition economies greater understanding of, and greater participation in, the processes that set internationally recognized sustainability reporting standards. The Programme of Cooperation works to foster sustainable development and facilitate investment and business linkages in developing countries and transition economies.
 
ISAR’s earlier work on this subject includes a 2006 review of corporate responsibility reporting which looked at CR reporting practices among 105 enterprises in 71 countries, and its 2003 workshop on corporate social responsibility reporting, which resulted in the publication "Disclosure of the Impact of Corporations on Society".

Ongoing Activities
 
In partnership with member states, academic institutions, and enterprises, the UNCTAD secretariat is promoting the development of corporate responsibility indicators in annual reports through high level summits, technical workshops and research projects focused on corporate reporting. Organisations wishing to partner with UNCTAD to collaborate on research or to host a conference or workshop on corporate responsibility reporting in their country, are welcome to contact us at isar@unctad.org.

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