The paragraph 47 Group of Friends for sustainability reporting from companies

If France has been working since 2001 to deploy an institutional framework in the field of extra financial reporting, this work exists as well on an international scale through the construction of standards for sustainability reporting. In Rio de Janeiro, on the 20th of June 2012, France, with three other countries, launched an international initiative in order to support companies reporting on their sustainability practices, following the ideas developed in paragraph 47 of the Final Document of the Conference on Sustainable Development called Rio +20.

This paragraph states:

“We acknowledge the importance of corporate sustainability reporting and encourage companies, where appropriate, especially publicly listed and large companies, to consider integrating sustainability information into their reporting cycle. We encourage industry, interested governments as well as relevant stakeholders with the support of the UN system to develop models for best practice and facilitate action for the integration of sustainability reporting, taking into account the experiences of already existing frameworks, and paying particular attention to the needs of developing countries, including for capacity building.”

Brazil, Denmark, France and South Africa formed the ‘group of friends of paragraph 47’ to advance corporate sustainability reporting. They invited the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) to support them.

The Group of Friends of Paragraph 47 started, during its second meeting in New Delhi on the 27th of September 2012, a Charter released on the 7th of November 2012. It underlines the necessity to learn from the environmental, social and economic crises of recent decades, and to cope with the major challenges of climate change, the depletion of natural resources, population growth, inequality and poverty, considering they can be overcome by promoting a culture of transparency, accountability and trust. The sustainability reporting strongly contributes to such a process.

It highlights the key role that governments must play in promoting sustainability reporting, through a wide range of means: regulation of the relevant information to be disclosed to shareholders, employees and consumers; ruling the Stock Exchanges; provisions for public procurement; laws for the safety and protection of health, financial regulation; policy advisory process to expand consensus, institutional social dialogue and eventually civil dialogue on how to achieve an effective environmental law and go beyond this law. The Group expressed its intention to open up to all governments who are convinced of the importance of corporate transparency in their risk management practices and aims to be a forum where experiences can be shared and to improve policies encouraging reporting.

This intergovernmental initiative, already joined by Norway, also intends to work with other stakeholders interested in the development of non-financial reporting. To this end, the Group has laid the foundation for creating a "Stakeholders Reference Groups", one at the international level, the others at the level of each Member States. These groups will meet regularly.

Updated on: 04.06.13