CDP (previously the Carbon Disclosure Project) "is an international, not-for-profit organization providing the only global system for companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share vital environmental information."113 With offices worldwide, its climate change, water, and forest programs are used by thousands of companies in more than 80 countries.
CDP was formed in 2001 after 35 signatories representing $4.5 trillion assets under management (AUM) signed a letter requesting that companies on the Financial Times 500 index disclose their carbon emissions data through CDP. As of the writing of this book, 767 investors who together represent $92 trillion in AUM have now signed this letter. CDP leverages this authority and, more recently, that of more than 60 major multinational purchasing organizations to survey companies on the disclosure and performance of their impacts on the environment and natural resources. According to Nigel Topping, CDP's Executive Director, "Approximately 4,500 companies disclosed climate change information through CDP's global platform in 2013. Of these, approximately 3,500 were listed (publicly traded) and represented about 54% of global market capitalization." Those remaining were in the supply chain.114
Climate Disclosure Standards Board
CDP provides the secretariat for the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB), a consortium of business and environmental organizations formed at the World Economic Forum's annual Davos meeting in 2007. The CDSB was created to "overcome the patchwork of schemes designed to mitigate climate change that has resulted in an unclear disclosure landscape across different countries and aims to specifically harmonize reporting of environmental and sustainability performance and risk by having it included in, or linked to, an organization's financial report."116
CDSB released Edition 1.0 of the Climate Change Reporting Framework117 in September 2010. The Framework is "a voluntary reporting framework designed to elicit climate change-related information of value to investors in mainstream financial reports. Created in line with the objectives of financial reporting and rules on non-financial reporting, the Climate Change Reporting Framework seeks to filter out what is required to understand how climate change affects a company's financial performance."118 The CDSB updated the Framework in October 2012 and published "A guide to using CDSB's Reporting Framework in March 2013."119 A further update is due in 2014 to expand the scope of its Framework to include fossil fuels and stranded assets, forest risk commodities (i.e., the drivers of deforestation), and water.120
CDSB views the disclosures contemplated by the Framework as being aligned with the efforts of the IIRC and has stated, "As a Framework that seeks to elicit information that connects the financial, governance and environmental impacts of climate change, CDSB's Climate Change Reporting Framework is on the frontier of how to apply the principles of integrated reporting with respect to reporting on climate change."121
Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings
While over 140 organizations provide sustainability ratings today, the quality and scope of these ratings varies widely. The degree of transparency about ratings methodologies is highly uneven, and ratings' organizations raise questions of conflict of interest by providing consulting services to the companies they rate. To strengthen the practice of ratings, the GISR was launched in June 2011—one month before SASB's foundation—as a joint project of Ceres and the Tellus Institute. As explained by its founder, Allen White, "The state of sustainability ratings today is comparable to sustainability reporting 20 years ago before the founding of both GRI (1997) and IIRC (2010)."123 GISR's mission is "to design and steward a global sustainability (i.e., ESG) ratings standard to expand and accelerate the contribution of business and other organizations worldwide to sustainable development. GISR will not rate companies. Instead, it will accredit other sustainability ratings, rankings or indices to apply its standard for measuring excellence in sustainability performance."124 In other words, GISR accredits rating methodologies to help drive excellence throughout the global community of rating organizations.
White sees a clear and complementary relationship between GISR and the work of organizations like GRI and SASB. "Raters have a vested interest in seeing high quality, comparable, and rigorous information flowing from various sources," he elaborated. "At the same time, high quality and credible ratings create incentives to improve companies' sustainability performance, making use of standards from groups like GRI and SASB in doing so."125 Particularly if sustainability ratings evolve into "integrated ratings" of companies and credit, White also sees the potential for a similar self-reinforcing cycle between ratings and integrated reporting. A uniform framework for integrated reporting would enhance the quality of those ratings and those ratings, in turn, would create an incentive for companies to embrace this framework.
Ultimately, White speculated that the major credit rating agencies like Moody's and Standard & Poor's might incorporate sustainability issues more systematically into their ratings. Given the global bond market's size, which McKinsey estimated to have a value in 2010 of nearly three times that of the global equity market,126 White sees the opportunity to encourage companies to view integrated reporting as essential to their communications with credit rating agencies. "If this were to evolve," he mused, "it would directly feed the information needs of integrated credit ratings which, in turn, would propel uptake of integrated reporting by companies."127 At the time of this writing, GISR is establishing an accreditation program to give its "seal of approval" to ratings methodologies that align with the GISR framework. That framework is based on five process principles and seven content principles, which collectively comprise the first component of the three-part standard, with issues and indicators components to follow.128
Big Four Accounting Firms and Accounting Associations
Because they provide audits of financial and, increasingly, nonfinancial information, the Big Four accounting firms (Deloitte, E&Y, KPMG, and PwC) will be integral to the success of the integrated reporting movement.129 Not only do clients look to them for a perspective on integrated reporting and what, if anything, they should be doing about it, each has published white papers explaining the concept, describing its benefits, addressing the challenges of its implementation, and providing a perspective on progress and prospects.130 Further, they have all been supportive of the IIRC through actions like secondments and hosting Council meetings. However, since these organizations are networks of firms for legal and risk management reasons, the degree of support for integrated reporting within each firm varies by territory.
In addition to general support for the IIRC, professional accounting associations lend integrated reporting technical legitimacy through institutionalization. Every major country has a professional association of accountants whose members have passed their certification examination. Many of these, such as the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants), CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants), ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales), and IMA (Institute of Management Accountants), have endorsed integrated reporting through feedback on the IIRC's "Draft Framework," press releases supporting the publication of the <IR> Framework, white papers, videos, and research projects.131
The global accounting association ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) was the first to include integrated reporting in the training course for its certification examination: "Students will be examined on integrated reporting (<IR>) for the first time in the accountancy profession when ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) introduces it into its qualification from December 2014."132 Making integrated reporting part of the body of knowledge one must have to earn ACCA certification is a tangible way of institutionalizing the idea in the context of more established accounting principles. After this, accounting professionals can educate and advocate for it with clients and employers.
Finally, the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) has been an active supporter of integrated reporting. Its former CEO, Ian Ball, is Chairman of the IIRC's Technical Working Group at the time of the writing of this book.133 An "association of associations" whose membership comprises "179 members and associates in 130 countries and jurisdictions, representing approximately 2.5 million accountants in public practice, education, government service, industry, and commerce,"134 IFAC's role in the IIRC and the global scope of its membership imply buy-in from its members and signal to them the importance of the topic.
Endorsements are public demonstrations of support for integrated reporting that help contribute to its institutional legitimacy. The 100+ companies that form the IIRC's "Pilot Programme Business Network," which "provides the opportunity to discuss and challenge developing technical material, test its application and share learning and experiences," at least agree that the concept of integrated reporting is worth experimentation.135 While they do not commit to publishing an integrated report, they invest resources to help develop an asset, the <IR> Framework, that other companies can freely use. Similarly, the 36 investors in the IIRC's "Pilot Programme Investor Network," which "provides an investor's perspective on the shortfalls of current corporate reporting; providing constructive feedback on emerging reporting from the Pilot Programme Business Network," also form a complementary endorsement.136
Several individual high-profile investment funds have also provided public endorsements for integrated reporting. APG (a big Dutch pension fund), California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS, the big California state pension fund), and Norges Bank Investment Management (the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund) jointly submitted a letter on December 15, 2011, to the IIRC providing commentary on its "Discussion Paper on Integrated Reporting," saying, "we are supportive of the concept of Integrated Reporting as set out in the high-level Discussion Paper."137 CalPERS took this one step further in 2012 when it listed integrated reporting as one of its "key initiatives" for its Global Governance Program in 2013.138 Generation Investment Management listed mandated integrated reporting as its second recommended action to create "a paradigm shift to Sustainable Capitalism."139