Over the past three decades, sustainability reporting has been largely voluntary. KPMG’s surveys of sustainability reporting have offered meaningful insights on how to improve levels of disclosure for business leaders, sustainability professionals, and company boards.
Today, policymakers are on the precipice of adopting mandatory and regulated sustainability reporting and the reporting landscape is poised to change drastically. The findings in KPMG’s 2022 ‘Survey of Sustainability Reporting’ reflect on the current state of reporting and overarching business strategies that can enable companies to meet increasing regulatory expectations – all while creating impact and generating value for society.
The 2022 KPMG survey is one of the most comprehensive and authoritative pieces of global research on sustainability reporting, based on an analysis of financial reports, sustainability and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reports, and websites from 5,800 companies in 58 countries, territories and jurisdictions.
It acts as a guide for those preparing their own organisation’s sustainability report. It also supports investors, asset managers and ratings agencies who now factor sustainability or ESG information into their corporate performance and risk assessments.
The 2022 survey includes new topics that reflect the evolving nature of sustainability disclosures. New sections include the use of materiality assessments, along with reporting on social and governance risks. The findings indicate five major emerging trends in sustainability reporting:
- Sustainability reporting is growing incrementally with movement towards the use of standards framed by stakeholder materiality assessments
- There is increased reporting on climate-related risks and carbon reduction targets, in line with TCFD
- There is a growing awareness of biodiversity risk
- Reporting on the UN SDGs prioritises quantity over quality
- Climate risk reporting leads, followed by social and governance risks.
The latest findings from KPMG reveal that sustainability reporting has grown steadily, with 79 percent of leading companies providing sustainability reports.
There has been marked improvement in companies reporting carbon reduction targets, but action remains too slow in key related areas, with less than half of companies currently recognizing biodiversity loss as a risk.
Among the thousands of reports analysed, less than half of the world’s largest companies are providing reporting on ‘social’ and ‘governance’ components of ESG.
KPMG outlines a series of recommendations, including companies shifting from a narrative-driven approach and making better use of data to drive change and provide evidence of action.
From recent local data and discussions with our community, Maltese companies appear to be lagging the global trend presented in this survey, although there are promising developments, including reporting by 22 companies under the Malta ESG Platform. Transparent ESG reporting and action will be crucial if Maltese companies are to remain relevant to international business and align with the broader values of Malta’s residents.
What’s needed more than ever is globally consistent standards from governments and a collective effort from the world’s major companies to report on all aspects of ESG, recognising the clear links between the environment and wider social equality issues.
Environmental, Social & Governance Lead KPMG in Malta