Climate change reporting experts from around the world gathered in Geneva on 16 March to address issues in this increasingly important area. The event brought together representatives of key organizations, including the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment, UNEP Finance Initiative, the International Corporate Governance Network, the International Integrated Reporting Committee, and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development.
The meeting featured the launch of a new Inter-Agency Working Group on Climate Change Reporting, comprised of UNCTAD, the OECD, the Climate Disclosure Standards Board and the Global Reporting Initiative. These four organizations have been working together since 2011 to coordinate activities in this area and promote a consistent international approach to calculating and reporting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Experts at the meeting shared experiences and best practices on climate change reporting standards. Among other issues, they discussed the role of national and international policy frameworks in bringing climate change reporting to scale (e.g. new national regulatory requirements). In particular, discussions focused on clause 24 of the ‘zero draft’ negotiating text for the Rio+20 Earth Summit. That clause calls for a new international policy framework on sustainability reporting. Experts agreed on the need for an internationally consistent approach to calculating corporate GHG emissions, and on the importance of international collaboration in this regard.
The meeting brought up many ideas for directing further work. Participants agreed on the need for further efforts towards international consensus building, for creating a database of national climate change-related reporting regulations, and for conducting capacity building programmes to assist low-income countries to implement best practices in climate change reporting.
Another outcome of the meeting was a new proposal to the G20, on ‘green accounting’ capacity development, aimed at assisting countries in pursuing ‘green growth’ strategies. The proposal positions the Inter-Agency Working Group on Climate Change Reporting as the implementation vehicle for this activity. The launch of UNCTAD-ISAR’s new Accounting Development Framework (which includes environmental accounting issues) at the World Investment Forum in Doha, Qatar this April, during UNCTAD XIII, was also noted as a key opportunity for galvanizing donor support for capacity building. Delegates identified the Rio+20 Earth Summit, to be held in Brazil in June 2012, as another important opportunity for further consensus-building, with the possible outcome being a new global policy framework on sustainability reporting.
The meeting involved more than 60 experts from 17 countries and included lively and constructive debates. The event also attracted United Nations officials working on climate change issues, who participated in discussions and contributed to disseminating material.
The interactive discussions carried forward UNCTAD’s Investment and Enterprise Division’s earlier work on environmental reporting (ISAR) and low-carbon investment promotion (World Investment Report 2010). It provided important insights into current challenges in climate change reporting and contributed to promoting an internationally harmonized approach.
All the presentations of this meeting can be found online here