Sustainability reporting is now fully ingrained in most corporate strategies, but corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting frameworks are tightening, and requirements are growing stricter. In May 2023, the EU parliament voted on new anti-greenwashing laws, and in June, they released new rules in the face of 'sham' claims. Bwritr's team of specialist sustainability writers have worked in sustainability reporting for many years. In this article, we discuss four key trends dominating the reporting landscape this year and offer advice on how best to manage them.
Trend 1: Scan for greenwashing in your report
With a significant crackdown on greenwashing expected this year, sustainability teams should carefully review their CSR reports for signs of greenwashing. Gen-Z and Millennials, who prioritise sustainability, are vigilant and will hold companies accountable. To combat greenwashing, ensure your sustainability report writers are trained in relevant frameworks like the Global Reporting Index and are proactive in questioning unsubstantiated claims and ensuring accurate data and substance in reporting.
Trend 2: Address challenges transparently
In the journey towards sustainability, every organisation has its imperfections. Transparently addressing sustainability challenges is vital for creating a credible and transparent CSR report. Rather than glossing over problem areas, it is essential to acknowledge and outline tangible actions to address them. Even today, 42% of the world's top 4,000 companies do not provide data on their most impactful Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions. Whether this is deliberate avoidance or a lack of access to data, evading the issue hampers accurate assessment, accountability and target setting. Companies can build trust and credibility with stakeholders by acknowledging shortcomings and demonstrating a commitment to improvement.
Trend 3: No more carbon offsetting
A notable trend in 2023 is the tangible shift away from carbon offsets as a strategy for emissions reduction. Many companies are banning carbon offsetting as 'proof' of carbon neutrality, which can be an excuse for inaction. The focus is shifting towards direct actions, such as energy efficiency projects, investments in renewable energy sources and other measurable carbon footprint reduction initiatives.
Trend 4: Embrace tangible emissions reduction strategies
Moving forward, companies must prioritise absolute emissions reduction strategies. This includes implementing energy efficiency projects, investing in renewable energy sources and adopting sustainable practices throughout the value chain. Companies can demonstrate a genuine commitment to reducing environmental impact by emphasising concrete actions.
The sustainability reporting landscape is evolving rapidly, and corporations can no longer rely on old practices or superficial claims. The intensified focus on greenwashing, the rising demand for transparency, the declining validity of carbon offsetting, and the push for tangible emission reduction strategies underscore a pivotal moment in corporate sustainability. Organisations are now called to approach their sustainability initiatives with greater depth, authenticity, and commitment. By understanding and actively responding to these emerging trends, companies not only fulfil their corporate responsibilities but also build trust and credibility in an increasingly discerning global marketplace.
As stewards of our planet, ensuring that our actions align with our words is crucial. Bwritr remains committed to guiding organisations in crafting genuine, impactful narratives that make a difference.
Starting tomorrow, we are publishing a special series of blogs inspired by the UN Climate Conference COP28, held in November 2023 in Dubai, UAE.
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