Our industry is engaged in an important dialogue to improve sustainability through ESG transparency and industry collaboration. This article is a contribution to this larger conversation and does not necessarily reflect GRESB’s position. Please refer to official GRESB documents for assessment related guidance.
In many instances, the pandemic has actually accelerated pre-existing trends towards greater ESG integration.
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting has gained considerable traction in recent years, underpinned by growing interest from investors at both international and local level. Investors, policy makers and companies alike, across the globe have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, one of which has truly highlighted the interconnectedness between people, planet and profits. In many instances, the pandemic has actually accelerated pre-existing trends towards greater ESG integration. Transparent and accessible reporting is crucial for assessing the opportunities and risks presented by today’s sustainability challenges and it cannot be denied that the recent increase in ESG reporting shows positive signs that organizations are paying close attention to environmental concerns, ultimately, striving towards greater sustainability.
As companies look towards ESG reporting, cross functional collaboration will be instrumental. The ESG reporting landscape is ever evolving and understanding the direction of travel is crucial in keeping up with the rapid pace of change. Relationship building, leveraging knowledge across functions and developing a common understanding around ESG, are the key ingredients required to equip companies with a well-functioning ESG reporting structure.
Standardized Reporting Frameworks
Undoubtedly, there is great demand for the adoption of standardised reporting frameworks, such as the GRESB Standards, to ensure there is consistency across ESG disclosures. As GRESB has become a leading sustainability benchmarking standard in the commercial real estate industry, it has had a strong influence on reporting guidance and has aided the normalization of data metrics in the industry. The future of ESG reporting will require disclosures to become more detailed and standardized and this will pave the way towards a global common language for ESG reporting.
Harnessing the Right Technology
Last but not least, technology will be the major driver in improving the quality of ESG reporting. Technological advancements are being made at a prolific rate, innovations of which will accelerate and provide valuable insights into an organizations sustainable growth. The call for increased transparency and accountability from businesses on their ESG efforts is prevalent and will continue to increase post Covid-19.
Harnessing the right technology to capture ESG data efficiency is becoming increasingly important and plays a pivotal role in adhering to existing and emerging climate regulations. ESG reporting software enables companies to collect new data and analyse it more effectively, allowing for the creation of data repositories, dashboards and reports that convey data in a meaningful way, not only reducing the burden of ESG reporting, but making it more actionable.
ESG Reporting is here to stay, accelerated by the Pandemic
With that, we can say with certainty that ESG reporting is here to stay. Despite the economic uncertainties that have stemmed as a result of the pandemic, neither investors nor companies have reduced their efforts in ramping up their ESG management and reporting. In fact, it is likely that Covid-19 will be the driving force to further push stakeholders to improve their approach to ESG management and reporting. Cross collaboration, standardization along with technological advancements and enhancing software capabilities will continue to equip investors, policy makers and companies with the tools required to bolster sustainability reporting. It is certainly an exciting time to be part of the movement towards knowledge sharing and harnessing new technologies as means of managing and reporting towards the integration of ESG factors.