Investor led coalition calls for UN declaration requiring companies to integrate material sustainability issues into reporting
20 Sep 2011
- Companies should disclose and integrate material sustainability information into their annual report and accounts or explain why they are unable do so.
- International policy framework should be developed promoting transparency and accountability.
- Initiative already supported by an extensive coalition including institutional investors representing global assets under management of US$1.6 trillion.
A coalition of institutions led by Aviva Investors, will today call on United Nations’ member states to develop a global policy framework that requires listed and large private companies to integrate sustainability information throughout their annual report and accounts – or explain why they are unable to do so.
Paul Abberley, chief executive of Aviva Investors London, will announce the "call to action" at today’s United Nations Private Sector Forum on Sustainable Energy for All, which is held in conjunction with the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly.
On behalf of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Coalition Paul will ask the UN member states to adopt a binding international commitment to develop a national policy, which requires the disclosure of sustainability information. The coalition is calling on the UN member states to adopt the global policy framework at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, the 2012 Earth Summit, which is taking place in Rio de Janeiro, in June 2012.
The coalition believes that the international policy framework should adhere to two overriding key principles:
- Transparency – UN member states should develop national regulations which mandate the integration of material sustainability issues in the annual report and accounts;
- Accountability – UN member states should provide effective mechanisms for investors to hold companies to account on the quality of their disclosures, including for instance through an advisory vote at the AGM.
Aviva plc, Aviva Investors parent company, was the first financial services organisation to put their sustainability report within the annual report and accounts to an advisory shareholder vote.
The coalition represents financial institutions, professional bodies, NGOs and investors with assets under management amounting to a Global AUM of US$1.6 trillion. It currently includes organisations such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, CA Cheuvreux, Generation Investment, Global Reporting Initiative and Hermes.
Paul Abberley, chief executive of Aviva Investors London said: “Progressive companies around the world have come to understand that long term-value is enhanced by embedding long-term sustainability into their business strategy and by fully disclosing their progress to investors. As a long-term investor we also recognise the positive impact that embedding long-term sustainability into a business strategy can have on shareholder value.
“We believe that all corporate boards should be required to consider the future sustainability of the firm they govern. This should not only enhance long-term profitability and returns to investors, but also improve the quality of stock markets, increase macro financial stability and make a material contribution to the lives of those impacted by corporate activity. This is why we are calling on the United Nations member states to commit to develop policy on Corporate Sustainability Reporting. Markets are driven by information. If the information they receive is short term and thin then these characteristics will define our markets.”
Ernst Ligteringen, chief executive of the Global Reporting Initiative, said: “Pioneering companies have proven the business case for disclosing sustainability data: now is the time to ask the question why don’t you report? Member states have an opportunity to drive us towards a sustainable global economy, by requiring that all large organisations report their sustainability impacts – either in a sustainability report, or integrated with financial data – or explain their silence.”
Helen Brand, chief executive of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, added: "We are delighted to support Aviva Investors efforts to place sustainability at the heart of business planning and strategy. Businesses today have the opportunity to play a leading role in creating a more sustainable world.
"Placing a concern for sustainability at the heart of their business strategies, and integrating that concern into their key processes, including reporting, are pre-requisite steps if the corporate sector is to fulfil its potential to shape the world of tomorrow. Integrated reporting is a 21st century approach to what the world expects from the corporate sector in the 21st century.”
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Notes to editors:
Aviva Investors is the global asset management business of Aviva plc. The business delivers investment management solutions, services and client-driven performance to clients worldwide. Aviva Investors operates in 16 countries in Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and the United Kingdom with assets under management of £269 billion at 30 June 2011.
- Aviva is a leading provider of life and pension products in Europe (including the UK) with substantial positions in other markets around the world, making it the world's sixth largest insurance group based on gross worldwide premiums at 31 December 2010.
- Aviva's principal business activities are long-term savings, fund management and general insurance, with worldwide total sales* of £47.1 billion and funds under management of £402 billion at 31 December 2010.
* Based on 2010 published life and pensions PVNBP on an MCEV basis, total investment sales and general insurance and health net written premiums, including share of associates' premiums.