- The latest findings from KPMG reveal that sustainability reporting has grown steadily, with 79% of leading global companies providing sustainability reports
- In Singapore, sustainability reporting rate grew to 100% in 2022 — up from 81% in 2020 for the country’s top 100 companies
- There has been marked improvements in companies reporting carbon reduction targets, but action remains too slow in key related areas with less than half of companies currently recognising 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
18 October 2022, Singapore – Singapore's top 100 companies1 have outperformed the global average in sustainability reporting for six out of 12 indicators (see Table 1) in KPMG's 2022 Survey of Sustainability Reporting which surveys the largest 100 companies (termed as ‘N100’) in each of 58 countries or jurisdictions every two years, or 5,800 companies in total. These Singapore companies have also increased their sustainability reporting rate to 100% in 2022, up 19% compared to 2020 — higher than the 2022 global average of 79%.
The Asia-Pacific region leads with 89% of its companies undertaking sustainability reporting. This is followed by Europe (82%), the Americas (74%) and the Middle East and Africa (56%). Regional variations were observed in the contents of sustainability reporting, largely driven by top-of-mind concerns and regulatory differences. While North America (97%) and Western Europe (85%) emerged with the highest overall reporting rates, the Middle East (55%) and Asia-Pacific region (30%) stand out on integrated reporting. Meanwhile, Latin America (50%) stands out on biodiversity reporting and Africa stands out on social and governance reporting (51% and 49%, respectively).
Globally, there has been a steady and consistent increase in reporting from the N100. Ten years ago, around two-thirds of the N100 group of companies provided sustainability reports and the figure now stands at 79%. Meanwhile, the world’s top 250 companies — known as the G250 (the G250 sample comprises the top 250 companies by revenue based on the 2021 Fortune 500 ranking) — are almost all providing some form of sustainability reporting, with 96% of this group reporting on sustainability or ESG matters. However, the findings reveal that there is still a disconnect between the urgency of addressing climate change and social equity, and the ‘hard results’ provided by businesses.
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) remains the most dominant standard used around the world. Singapore is a leader in the uptake with 100 percent of its N100 companies reporting against GRI standards and 85% reporting against Singapore stock exchange guidelines.
Specifically, Singapore companies have scored better than the global average for material topics identified, reporting of carbon reduction targets, the inclusion of environmental, social and governance (ESG) information in their annual reports, acknowledging climate change as a financial risk to business, and in terms of governance when it came to appointing a member of the board or leadership team to be responsible for sustainability as well as including sustainability within compensation.
Cherine Fok, Partner, KPMG ESG, KPMG in Singapore said, “In this latest report, Singapore takes the lead for sustainability reporting globally. This is an encouraging indicator of progress and reflects the country’s determination to consistently deliver on earlier climate commitments.
"Recent moves by the regulators to further refine and enforce reporting requirements were decisive, steering companies towards the adoption of best practice disclosures backed by strategic business planning and operational transformation. The regulations were complemented simultaneously by widespread capacity building efforts, and the introduction of a comprehensive series of initiatives that extended support to businesses as they grapple with the challenges pose by the net zero transition.
"These initiatives include revisions to carbon tax rates to better consider the gravity of the issue, new green policies and incentives to drive commercially scalable solutions and technology adoption that facilitated measurement, reporting and verification of sustainability disclosures.
"With the groundwork being laid, we can look forward to a deepening in the next phases of sustainability reporting, with more focus placed on complex aspects such as climate impact modelling, analysis of the socio-economic impacts arising from climate change, and a clearer link between sustainability performance and enterprise value.”
Table 1: Results of sustainability key data points by N100 companies in Singapore versus global average
|No||Key data points||Global average||Singapore results|
(number of companies that include ESG/Sustainability information in their annual report)
(number of companies that state that it follows the International
(number of companies that seek assurance for their ESG/Sustainability information)
(number of companies that identify material topics)
(number of companies that identify specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) it considers most relevant to the business)
(number of companies that report carbon reduction targets)
(number of companies that recognize the loss of biodiversity/nature as a risk to the business)
|8||CLIMATE RELATED RISK
(number of companies that acknowledge climate change as a financial risk to business)
|9||SOCIAL RELATED RISK
(number of companies that acknowledge social elements as a financial risk to business)
|10||GOVERNANCE RELATED RISK
(number of companies that acknowledge governance elements as a financial risk to business)
(number of companies with dedicated member of the Board and/or leadership team responsible for sustainability)
(number of companies that included sustainability within compensation)
For each data point, the country has been ranked and grouped into one of four quartiles:
- Top quartile (High) = Countries ranked 1 - 15
- Middle - high quartile (Medium/High) = Countries ranked 16 - 30
- Low - middle quartile (Medium/Low) = Countries ranked 31 - 44
- Bottom quartile (Low) = Countries ranked 45 - 58
Climate continues to dominate
The latest findings reveal that businesses are increasingly recognising that they have a role to play in helping to achieve climate targets, with an impressive 71% of the N100 globally and 80% of the G250 setting carbon reduction targets. Reassuringly, most companies recognise that they must reduce their own emissions to achieve their carbon targets rather than rely solely on carbon credits. The number of companies reporting against Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) guidance has nearly doubled, leading to better climate disclosures.
However, the report also reveals some key areas where faster progress is required. Only 64% of G250 companies formally acknowledge that climate change is a risk to their business, and less than half of companies currently recognise biodiversity loss as a risk.
Sustainability reporting through the ESG lens
This year’s report has also highlighted some further challenges the world’s major companies are facing reporting on ESG. Among the thousands of reports analysed, less than half of the world’s largest companies provided reporting on ‘social’ components (e.g. modern slavery; diversity, inclusion and equity; community engagement; and labour issues), despite an increasing awareness of the link between the climate crisis and social inequality. At the same time, less than half of companies disclosed their governance risks (e.g. corruption bribery and anti-corruption, anti-competitive behavior or political contributions.) In addition, only one-third of N100 companies have a dedicated member of their leadership team responsible for sustainability and less than one-quarter of these companies link sustainability to compensation among business leadership.
ESG disclosures continue to be overwhelmingly narrative-driven, rather than publishing quantitative or financial data regarding impacts. This is clearly an area of improvement for companies around the world.
On a positive note, around three-quarters of reporting companies conducted materiality assessments and are disclosing material topics.
John McCalla-Leacy, KPMG’s Global Head of ESG, said:
“Last year, scientists from the IPCC warned the world was on ‘Code Red’ for human driven global warming. It was followed by a number of commitments from political leaders at COP26. As we head towards COP27, immediate action is now needed to avert human and environmental tragedies on an ever-increasing scale.
“KPMG’s 2022 Survey of Sustainability Reporting reveals regulation is making a difference. My view is that it is critical to provide guidance and direction to companies and help drive cultural change. Business leaders have accepted they have a responsibility and role to play in helping to slow and potentially avert the unfolding crisis. 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.”
Jennifer Shulman, report co-author and Global Lead for KPMG’s Global ESG Advisory Hub, commented:
“The COP26 summit offered the world a human face to the unfolding climate tragedy facing the planet. Representatives from some of the world’s most remote and heavily impacted nations and territories were present to share their story. But, despite that growing recognition of the human side of ESG, our latest survey continues to highlight a real challenge facing the C-suite — which is in how they demonstrate and reflect on their company’s wider societal impact.
“We should start to see some progress over the coming year as organisations like the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) roll out new global standards for reporting. But, companies shouldn’t wait to be told. Leadership from the top is essential. The global pandemic and COP26 shone a light on the growing inequalities in society. Many major organisations are responding with proactive action that should be applauded. We’re seeing far greater action on gender equality, pay equity and community impact assessments. It’s time for organisations to be transparent in their reporting to highlight what they’ve achieved and hold themselves to account on areas where further progress is required.”
A call to action
New ESG requirements are driving a different perspective and set of conversations in boardrooms, driving business leaders to stretch their thinking and ensure that from the top down they are making strategic decisions that take climate and broader ESG considerations more into account.
The KPMG report outlines the tangible ways businesses can invest in sustainability reporting:
- Understanding stakeholder expectations
- Incorporating materiality assessments into reporting
- Aligning reporting to mandatory or voluntary frameworks
- Investing in quality non-financial data management
- Understanding the impact of climate change and social issues on business
The pressure on businesses to report on non-financial metrics is only expected to grow as regulations evolve. By acting now, companies can make informed choices to drive the change that is much needed to be a good corporate citizen in today’s world.
1These are the top 100 companies based on a recognised national source or, where a ranking was not available or was incomplete, by market capitalisation or a similar measure. All company ownership structures were included in the research: publicly listed and state, private, and family-owned.
Note to editors
Launched in 1993, The KPMG Survey of Sustainability Reporting aims to shine a light on how the world’s largest companies are responding to and reporting on their response to the climate crisis and wider social issues. This year’s survey is the 12th edition from KPMG and the most extensive to-date, offering an in-depth ‘report card’ on the state of sustainability reporting in 2022.
About KPMG’s Survey of Sustainability Reporting
First published in 1993, this 2022 survey marks the 12th edition examining sustainability reporting trends around the world. Over the past two decades, sustainability reporting has been largely voluntary, so the purpose of this survey was to offer meaningful insights about how to improve levels of disclosure by business leaders, sustainability professionals and company boards.
Today, we are on the precipice of adopting mandatory and regulated sustainability reporting and the reporting landscape is poised to change drastically. The findings in this report reflect on the current state of reporting today, the gaps that should be filled to meet regulatory requirements and the overarching business strategy considerations that can allow companies to meet increasing regulatory expectations, while still creating impact and generating value.
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