What is reporting?

Reporting is a mechanism used to gather information on the way organisations comply with their legal obligations. Human rights compliance is one of the issues that is being increasingly included in standard reporting systems. The information is gathered to perform internal audit processes, but also to disclose it to stakeholders. Regarding human rights, this information refers to the risks of adverse impacts caused by the activities of the reporting organisation and how they would be addressed.  

Reporting is a central tool of human rights compliance assessments. It is based on indicators that measure how organisations deal with adverse human rights impacts and facilitates their communication to stakeholders. Therefore, reporting systems also disclose how organisations comply with their human rights obligations. Most reporting systems released up to now mainly disclose Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) information, and increasingly, sustainable development performance related to the targets of the SDGs

The UNGP (Principle 20) recommends the construction of indicators to evaluate human rights compliance by organisations and the release of transparent and accountable information about how organisations address adverse human rights impacts. Reporting also complements human rights due diligence and operational-level grievance mechanisms, because they enable the collection of reliable information, which is then processed by means of these indicators. 

The UNGP encourage organisations to use reporting to communicate the risks of severe human rights impacts that their activities could cause. Reporting is therefore important for holding organisations accountable and increasing their transparency, as disclosing information is a step towards evaluating their performance on complying with human rights duties. 

Reporting systems are numerous - some are mandatory; others are voluntary or purely guidelines for public and private organisations. Reporting can be a legal duty and can be part of a wider report on non-financial performance that usually covers social and environmental issues.  The Reporting Exchange identifies three types of reporting obligations:

  • Mandatory provisions that impose an obligation on organisations to report or respond;
  • Provisions that require specific action from organisations, or else an explanation in case of non-compliance; and
  • Voluntary provisions that do not require reporting, but encourage organisations to implement reporting systems. 

The main concern with reporting systems is that their proliferation makes it complex for potential users (organisations) and stakeholders to use and understand them. This tool concentrates on reporting systems of which the main objective is to provide information about actual or potential adverse human rights impacts. However, it also refers to the most common CSR or sustainability reporting systems, because they are also relevant for evaluating, preventing and addressing some salient human rights risks.

This tool mainly uses hyperlinks, because the information provided is largely available on comprehensive websites. 

UN initiatives on human rights reporting 

UN reporting standards are based on the UNGP, the UN Global Compact principles and the UN Principles for Responsive Investment (UNPRI). This framework considers reporting systems as one of the key instruments to address adverse human rights impacts and to hold organisations accountable when they conduct activities that involve human rights risks.

The UNGP reporting framework (2015)

This reporting framework is the most comprehensive guidance on reporting human rights risks. In contrast with most of CSR or sustainability reporting, this framework aims at guiding organisations to report on human rights issues in line with their responsibility to respect human rights, defined in the UNGP . The UNGP reporting framework is based on the Human Rights Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative (RAFI), co-facilitated by Shift and Mazars through a worldwide multi-stakeholder consultative process at the local level. The RAFI project page is hosted by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and funded by the governments of Norway, Sweden and the UK.

Reporting human rights impacts aims at disclosing information in a transparent and accountable manner. As reporting cannot cover all possible risks that an activity or a relationship could cause, the UNGP reporting framework, in contrast to CSR reporting systems, uses the criterion of salient human rights issues to establish the scope and content of reporting – that is, to define priorities in the reporting process. 

Salient human rights issues, as a criterion, is the way to identify those human rights with a higher risk of suffering the “most severe negative impact”through the activities or relationships of organisations. The focus of reporting is on people and not on the organisation, as is the case in human rights due diligence as well.  When selecting the salient human rights risks, the following aspects should be considered: 

  • Severity: Whether the adverse impact is serious and widespread and whether redress is possible when a human rights harm is caused. 
  • Potentiality: The likelihood that human risks may occur in future. If the targeted human rights risks have already occurred before, this likelihood would increase. 
  • Negative:The focus should be on avoiding harm to human rights, rather than on initiatives to support or promote human rights that are not connected to the actual or potential adverse impact.
  • Impacts on human rights: The focus is on risks for people, rather than on risks for the organisation.

The UNGP reporting framework distinguishes between salience and materiality as possible criteria to identify how the most severe adverse human rights impacts or harms might relate to the activities or relationships of an organisation. The identification of salient human rights at stake is the first stage of human rights due diligence . It is a necessary internal process that organisations should conduct to foresee the most important human rights risks before an adverse impact or harm occurs. Salience contrasts with the key criterion considered in CSR reporting, namely “materiality”. Materiality “depends on the choice of a specific audience or goal that determine the relevance of an issue and determines the selection of material issues”. The salience criterion is recommended over the materiality criterion - as the latter is focused on the organisation, it might miss important risks for human rights. However, the materiality assessment of CSR is complementary and covers some aspects of human rights risks, such as labour or environmental issues. Salient human rights should therefore form the core content of human rights reporting, both for risk assessment and for earmarking the necessary resources to manage these risks. This way, reporting becomes relevant for stakeholders. 

The UNGP reporting framework also includes other tools: 

database and analysis of existing company reporting on human rights that informs stakeholders and civil society about the current state of corporate reporting. 

Reporting PrinciplesThe UNGP reporting framework also proposes seven principles to frame the implementation of a human rights reporting mechanism by organisations:

  • Setting human rights reporting in the business context
  • Meeting a minimum threshold of information (connected to the three parts of the reporting)
  • Demonstrating ongoing improvement 
  • Focusing on respect for human rights
  • Addressing the most severe impacts on human rights
  • Providing balanced examples from relevant geographies
  • Explaining any omission of important information

The UNGP reporting framework further includes the following procedures: 

Part A: Governance of Respect for Human Rights

Part B: Defining a Focus of Reporting

Part C: Management of Salient Human Rights Issues

An assurance guidance to support organisations and their advisers in implementing human rights reporting. It includes a narrative guidance document, memos and assurance indicators as practical tools for experts.

 Model guidance on reporting ESG information to investors (2015)

This model guidance is directed at investors and was published by the UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative, co-organised by UNCTAD, the UN Global Compact, the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment and the UNEP Finance Initiative. It is a multi-stakeholder initiative to promote responsible investment for sustainable development. It is a voluntary tool for stock exchanges focused on CSR reporting.

The IFC Performance Standards (2012) 

TheInternational Financial Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group released these standards as part of the “Sustainability Framework” that seeks to implement sustainable development and risk management. They are also based on the World Bank Group Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines (EHS Guidelines), which are technical reference documents containing the performance levels and measures that are normally acceptable to the IFC and oriented towards industrial activities.

ThePerformance Standards are intended to be used in projects involving direct investment (projects, corporate finance with the intervention of financial corporations) to identify risks and impacts and to consider stakeholder engagement and disclosure obligations related to the project-level activities. These standards may also be applied by other financial institutions. The targeted impacts are environmental, social (labour and working conditions), resource efficiency and pollution prevention, community health, safety and security, land acquisition and involuntary resettlement, biodiversity conservation and sustainable management of living natural resources, indigenous peoples and cultural heritage.

IFC Performance Standards have been used by banks that adopted the Equator Principles.The latter are also a risk management framework, adopted by financial institutions, for determining, assessing and managing environmental and social risk in projects. The principles provide a minimum standard for due diligence and monitoring to support responsible risk decision-making – that is, they aim at ensuring that the projects financed are developed in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. The principles also state that negative impacts on project-affected ecosystems and communities should be avoided. If these impacts are unavoidable, they should be reduced, mitigated and/or duly compensated. A review of the Equator Principles is foreseen in 2018 to widen their scope to include social impact, human rights, climate change, etc.

The OECD Recommendation of the Council on Common Approaches for Officially Supported Export Credits and Environmental and Social Due Diligence (2016) is in line with the OECD Guidelines and incorporates the IFC Performance Standards (2012) as well. 

Integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into Corporate Reporting: A Practical Guide (2018)

This guide is based on previous work from the SDG Compass, developed by the UN Global Compact, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The aim of this guide is “to outline a three-step process to embed the SDGs in existing business and reporting processes”. These steps are: 

  • Step 1: the process of prioritization of impacts and the identification of SDGs for an organisation to act and report on
  • Step 2: how to set business objectives, select disclosures and analyse performance
  • Step 3: tips and guidance on reporting and improving SDG performance

These steps can be used in a flexible way by any kind of business as a point of departure for corporations to approach the SDGs. This guide is intended to be used together with Business Reporting on the SDGs: An Analysis of the Goals and Targets (the Analysis) as part of a reporting cycle. In addition, the publication Addressing Investors Needs in Business Reporting on the SDGs is complementary, though focused on investor-relevant aspects. 

Partnership for Principle 10 (PP10)

Partnership for Principle 10 (PP10) is an online platform that contains the UN global registry of voluntary commitments and multi-stakeholder partnerships to support the implementation of the SDGs. It seeks to share knowledge and expertise about multi-stakeholder SDG-related partnerships and voluntary commitments. 

Reporting initiatives in the EU

The EU has been actively promoting the use of reporting systems for evaluating organisations and for disclosing good governance practices. The European Commission defines standardisation as voluntary technical specifications that apply to various products, materials, services and processes. These standards aim at reducing costs, improving safety, and enhancing competition and innovation. It further refers to Joint Initiative on Standardisationstandardisation policyharmonised standardsservice standards, the notification systemstandardisation requests and key guidance in the standardisation section.

The Non-Financial Reporting Directive

The EU requires large corporations to identify how they operate and manage social, human rights and environmental challenges. The aim is that stakeholders receive relevant information regarding human rights. The Reporting Directive requires member states to regulate this duty. Non-financial information covers environmental protection, social rights, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery, and diversity on corporate boards. 

Organisations that are obliged to report non-financial information are free to choose the reporting system. The EU recommends that these organisations use the resources of the UN Global Compact, the OECD guidelines and the ISO 26000 on social responsibility. The EU Commission has also released Guidelines on non-financial reporting. The EU further recommends considering other guidelines, such as the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains; the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) (and tool 7); the European Federation of Financial Analysts Societies' KPIs for Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG); the GRI, the Guidance for Responsible Agricultural Supply Chains of FAO-OECD; the UNGP reporting frameworkthe International Integrated Reporting Framework; the Model guidance on reporting  ESG information  to investors;  the Natural Capital Protocol; the ILO Tripartite Declaration; the SDGs; the UNGP; and the UN Global Compact.

The Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS)

Besides the Reporting Directive, the EU has also developed the EMAS that organisations can use to evaluate, report, and improve their environmental performance. This reporting system is based on the EMAS Regulation, which develops core indicators to document environmental performance. In 2017, a new Regulation adapted EMAs to the new version of ISO 14001 standard on environmental management.   

EMAS User’s Guide website explains the EMAS Regulation in practical steps which are accessible for any kind of organisation. In addition, EMAS Global guide contains the legislative text regarding EU corporate registration, and third country and global registration. In addition, this website also contains: 

  • The Sectoral Reference Documents on Best Environmental Management Practice, to guide organisations in specific sectors on how to further improve environmental performance
  • Best environmental management practices; environmental performance indicators; and benchmarks of excellence
  • Tailored publications for diverse types of public and private organisations

The Directorate-General of Environment of the EU further lists and explains several monitoring and reporting systems of environment legislation. It also highlights that independently of the selected reporting instrument, organisations should provide clear, coordinated and coherent (and easy to communicate) information regarding the level of implementation for a particular regulatory framework. It should also indicate the “distance to target” with respect to the objectives of this legal framework.

The EU Better Regulation Guidelines

The EU Better Regulation Guidelines (Section V) is tool defines some requirements for monitoring policymaking at the European level, but it can also serve as a guide for policymakers from member states. These guidelines recommend that adopted reporting schemes consider the objectives of the policy or regulation, and which evidence should be collected to identify and evaluate progress and performance. The Guidelines further list the available implementation reports, scoreboards, indicators and other statistics that are used to evaluate compliance with EU legislation. The European Commission further uses the Roadmap to monitor the implementation of EU legislation in EU member states, to ensure that national laws achieve the intended objectives.

The European Sustainability Award

In 2018, the European Commission launched this award to recognise the efforts and creativity of European organisations and citizens who work to achieve the SDGs. The theme of the award is decided on a yearly basis by the UN High Level Political Forum.

The Belgian Corporate Code

Belgium has transposed the Directive on non-financial information in the Corporate Code. This means that corporations must submit non-financial statements as part of their annual reports if they are large public-interest corporations with more than 500 employees. This statement should also refer to policies, outcomes of due diligence processes and related risks. It should be included in the management report. If relevant and proportionate, corporations should also provide information about their supply and subcontracting chains. This seeks to identify, prevent and mitigate adverse impacts. 

Before the EU Directive on non-financial reporting, corporations in Belgium submitted a social report, and some investment corporations were already required to report on social, ethical and environmental issues related to their investments (Directive 2003/51/CE). 

According to the preamble of the Corporate Governance Code of Belgium, good governance implies that corporations consider not only shareholders but also stakeholder interests, because good governance is based on transparency and accountability for the benefit of investors and other stakeholders. However, this Code does not refer to the reporting of sustainability information.

The Best Belgian Sustainability Report

This award (the Best Belgian Sustainability Report) is organised by the Institute of Registered Auditors (IBR-IRE), with the support of public and private organisations such as the Federal Institute for Sustainable Development (FIDO/IFDD), the KBC Group, The Shift, the Union of Self-Employed Entrepreneurs (UNIZO), the Union of the Middle Classes (UCM), the Antwerp Management School (AMS), the Walloon Union of Companies (UWE), the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Wallonia (CCI Wallonie), the Brussels Enterprises Commerce and Industry (BECI), the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Eupen, Malmedy and Sankt-Vith (IHK), MVO Vlaanderen, and the Flemish network of enterprises (VOKA).

Earlier, this award focused on environmental reports from large corporations. Nowadays, other elements of sustainability are also taken into consideration. Other organisations - such as non-profits, small and medium-sized corporations, and the public sector - can also compete for this award, as they are increasingly implementing sustainability reporting. 

The award focuses on “how organizations can align their strategies and on how they can measure and manage their contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals”. The award aims at stimulating sustainable development reporting among all kinds of public and private organisations. It seeks to encourage “external assurance of non-financial information by a registered auditor listed with IBR-IRE” and the use of sustainable reporting to improve transparent and effective dialogue with stakeholders. 

The Belgian National Standards Body (NBN)

The Belgian National Standards Body (NBN) is a public entity that belongs to the network of the ISO standards and to the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), officially recognized by the EU and by the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) is a collaboration of 160 national standards bodies (some of them created by national laws) to develop market-relevant international standards. ISO includes an informal complaints mechanism related to the misuse of the ISO logo or false ISO certification. However, it only grants a quick response and not provide a resolution, nor does the ISO assume any liability. 

As the NBN awards ISO standards in Belgium, the relevant standards are referred to here. The Belgian Bureau voor Normalisatie/Bureau de Normalisation defines a standard as “a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose”. The aim of standards is to ensure quality, safety and efficiency of products and services in almost all economic sectors. Standards can certify that businesses sell products and services that are safe, reliable and of good quality. They are increasingly used to support human rights compliance assessments worldwide. Some relevant standards related to human rights compliance assessment are those designed for CSR. As they can be useful for identifying, assessing and communicating actual or potential human rights risks, these standards are listed below, with corresponding hyperlinks.

ISO 26000 on social responsibility

ISO 26000 provides guidance on social responsibility by enabling organisations to contribute to sustainable development efforts through minimizing their impact on the environment, tackling human rights issues and contributing to society and the economy. This standard can guide any kind of organisation, but is not used for certification. It promotes accountability, transparency, ethical behaviour, stakeholder interests, rule of law, international norms of behaviour, and human rights. 

ISO related to environmental protection 
 ISO standards protecting the right to health
ISO related to management quality

This standard sets out the criteria for a quality management system. It can be used by any type of organisation, regardless of its field of activity. This standard is based on Quality Management Principles including customer focus, leadership, engagement of people, process approach, improvement evidence-based decision-making and relationship management.

This standard is intended for any type of organisation in any sector. It sets out requirements and provides guidance for a management system to prevent, detect and respond to bribery, as well as comply with anti-bribery laws and voluntary commitments. It does not address fraud, cartels and other anti-trust/competition offences, money-laundering or other activities related to corrupt practices.

This standard is also a guideline that sets out principles, a framework and a process for managing risk. It is intended for any type of organisation. It cannot be used for certification purposes, but guides internal or external audits. The brochure explains the new version of the standard, adopted in 2018, including the greater role given to stakeholders and the focus on human and cultural factors. 

This standard guides any kind of organisation that seeks to integrate sustainability into its procurement processes. It is connected to ISO 26000, but focuses on the following issues: supply chain security; prevention of financial, environmental and reputational risks; increasing investor and customer confidence; promotion of employee well-being; and opening markets.

  • ISO 27001 certification Information Security Management System (ISMS):

This standard dates from 2013, but the EU considers that it is compatible with the requirements of the EU GDPR on data protection. It is mainly intended for large organisations and governments to implement information security. The data protection authority in Belgium also recommends ISO/CEI 27002, which includes a code of practice for information security management, as well as ISO/IEC 29100 on Privacy framework. The latter specifies a common privacy terminology; defines the actors and their roles in processing personally identifiable information (PII); describes privacy safeguarding considerations; and provides references to known privacy principles for information technology. It is intended for organisations involved in specifying, procuring, architecting, designing, developing, testing, maintaining, administering, and operating information and communication technology systems or services where privacy controls are required for the processing of PII.

Other non-state reporting initiatives
 CHRB – Corporate Human Rights Benchmark

This benchmark is an initiative driven by Aviva Investors, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Calvert InvestmentsVigeo Eiris, the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) and De Vereniging van Beleggers voor Duurzame Ontwikkeling (VBDO) from the Netherlands. It aims at ranking the human rights performance of the world’s largest listed corporations. The design and scope of the benchmark was defined in consultation with a large group of stakeholders. The CHRB has developed a rigorous methodology which starts by ranking the top 100 corporations in diverse sectors such as agriculture, apparel and extractives. The goal is to release a yearly report, and expansion to include the top 500 globally listed corporations is being considered.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

This is an NGO that promotes and supports Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting. It was founded in the US in 1997 by CERES and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). It is an international, independent organisation that supports any kind of organisation in managing the impact of organisations on sustainability issues. GRI has partnerships with international organizations such as the OECD, the UN Global Compact, and ISO, as well as governments and regulators, to promote sustainability reporting at local levels. It is the most used reporting system worldwide. In Belgium, it has been broadly adopted by public and private organisations, such as MVO in Flanders and some organisations of the federal government.

The GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards  (2016)

The new generation of GRI sustainability reporting standards is the most complete set of standards directed to any kind of organisation and to governments worldwide. These standards aim at understanding and communicating the impact of the activities of these organisations on critical sustainability issues. The GRI Standards have been reformulated in 2016 as follows: 

  •  Standards: These are the 100 series that include the guidelines to use the GRI Standards, the general disclosures (relevant contextual information), and the management approach.
  • Economic Standards: These are the 200 series of the GRI Standards used to report information on the material impacts of the organisation related to economic topics, such as economic performance, procurement or anti-corruption practices.
  • Environmental Standards: These are the 300 series of the GRI Standards used to report on the material impacts related to environmental topics.
  • Social Standards: These are the 400 series of the GRI Standards used to report material impacts related to social topics. These social topics include: employment, social assessment of the partners, impacts on local communities and consumer protection. 

There is also a GRI Standards Resource Download Center that provides guidelines and tools for understanding and implementing these standards. The GRI Standards Linkage Documents are particularly relevant because they explain the connections between the GRI Standards and other frameworks and initiatives such as the EU non-financial reporting Directive or the SDGs.

Third-party assurance of sustainability reports

GRI designed this external assurance to respond to the increasing relevance of solid sustainable reporting for organisations. This assurance is identified as a verification or certification process, because it refers to an independent review to verify the information provided in sustainable reports. The ultimate aim is to control the quality of final disclosures for the benefit of organisations and stakeholders. It is similar to the revision of financial reports by external auditors to increase recognition, trust and credibility, and to reduce risks.

Small Business, Big Impact: SME Sustainability Reporting from Vision to Action (2016)

This publication seeks to encourage SMEs to practice sustainability reporting. It  was released by GRI and the International Organisation of Employers (IoE). This publication highlights the relevance of SMEs in the world economy, as they represent 90% of businesses. The aim is also to increase the number of SMEs that provide sustainability information to their stakeholders, as until 2015, SMEs sustainability reports only accounted for 10% of the total number captured in the GRI Sustainability Disclosure Database.  

There is also a GRI Training and Coaching Team to support SMES in implementing sustainability reporting systems.

The SA 8000 Standard

This is a social accountability certification for private organisations. It was established by Social Accountability International in 1997 as a multi-stakeholder initiative adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and ILO Core Conventions. SA 8000 includes supporting documents, mainly on the topics of child labour, forced or compulsory labour, health and safety, freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, discrimination, disciplinary practices, working hours, remuneration, and management systems. However, this standard has lost relevance with the introduction of ISO 26000.

Combined reporting standards

Using and referencing ISO and IEC standards to support public policy

ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), an NGO that publishes international standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies, launched this standard to promote world trade and economic growth with respect for the environment. These standards support public policy activities, including legislative and non-legislative actions, which are related to technical regulations impacting on safety, security, health, social protection or the environment. Non-legislative policy-action include funding priorities, incentive systems, awareness campaigns, public procurement and codes of conduct. 

ISO 26000 and SDGs

This ISO publication seeks to specify how users of ISO 26000 contribute to reaching the 17 SDGs and their 169 targets.

 Additional reporting initiatives

Besides the reporting systems already mentioned, there are many others referring to CSR or sustainability standards. These are only listed non-exhaustively, with corresponding hyperlinks for further consultation:

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) 

It is a global, CEO-led organisation that promotes reporting on the SDGs, mainly on five topics: cities and mobility, energy and circular economy, food, land and water, people and redefining value. This organisation, in partnership with the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) and Ecodesk, launched the Reporting Exchange, which aims at clarifying what, where and how to report on sustainability issues, and facilitating exchange among stakeholders. It is also a toolbox that provides information on the latest advances and good practices worldwide and per geographic location, and includes specific sectoral information.

The Corporate Reporting Dialogue  

It is an initiative that promotes coherence, consistency and comparability between corporate reporting frameworks, standards and related requirements. It has released the Corporate Reporting Landscape Map, which summarises corporate reporting initiatives, their scope and their implementation requirements.

The framework of the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) 

It is an international consortium of business and environmental NGOs that aims at mainstreaming corporate reporting to ensure that organisations disclose uniform environmental, natural and financial information.

Future-Fit Business Benchmark 

It is an initiative that aims at identifying “the extra-financial break-even point for business, expressed as a unified set of social and environmental goals”.

The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI)

It is an alliance of corporations, trade unions and voluntary organisations that seeks to improve the lives of workers.

The Integrated Reporting Principles of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) (2013)

They seek to increase cohesion and efficiency of the reporting process and to reduce duplication.

Fair Labor Association (FLA)

It is a joint initiative of universities, civil society organisations and corporations that seeks to protect workers’ rights worldwide.

The Gold Standard Foundation 

It was established by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). It is a certification standard for both voluntary and mandatory reporting on compliance, such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) which “allows emission-reduction projects in developing countries to earn certified emission reduction (CER) credits, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2”. This CDM is used by states to meet part of their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol. It is also the main source of income for the UNFCCC Adaptation Fund, which finances adaptation projects and programmes in developing states parties to the Kyoto Protocol at high risk of suffering adverse effects of climate change.


It is a global business association that promotes sustainable trade among all kinds of organisations and provides diverse tools for reporting and other related purposes.

Vigeo Eiris 

It is a multi-stakeholder network, mostly composed of investors, that evaluates how all kinds of organisations integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into their strategy, operations and management.


It is a certificate and standard used as a benchmark to disclose how operations of organisations are environmentally friendly.

Some reporting initiatives focused on the management of value chains
Fair Wear Foundation 

It is a non-profit organisation working with diverse stakeholders to monitor and improve workplace conditions for garment workers in Asia, Europe and Africa. 


It is the world's largest fair trade system. It provides labels, certifications schemes and standards designed to tackle poverty and empower producers in the poorest countries in the world.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) 

Belgium provides information about the FSC label and forest certification to stakeholders. It is part of a worldwide network that promotes sustainable forests. 

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

It also has an office in Belgium. It is a certification scheme that has designed standards for wild-capture fisheries, traceability and conservation of marine areas.

The State of Sustainable Markets Statistics and Emerging Trends (2015):

The International Trade Centre (ITC), in collaboration with The Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and the International Institute of Sustainable Development (IISD) and with the support of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), released this report referring to the Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS). These standards seek to link consumption, production and trade with specific sustainable development outcomes. They are also used to report data on sustainable practices to make it accessible to stakeholders, and are focused on selected commodities: bananas, cocoa, coffee, cotton, palm oil, soy, sugarcane, tea and forestry production.

Reporting in the non-profit sector

Although initially the UNGP and most other reporting schemes were meant to promote corporate reporting, non-profit organisations are also increasingly adopting reporting systems, particularly on sustainability.  They are also increasingly committed to stakeholder engagement. 

The INGO Accountability Charter and the Istanbul Principles on development effectiveness (2010) are pioneers in the design of reporting mechanisms for the non-profit sector to promote transparency and accountability. 

Sustainability Reporting Guidelines & NGO Sector Supplement (2011)

This supplement can be used by all private organisations, including civil society organisations (CSOs) and not-for-profit organisations working in diverse sectors such as advocacy, service provision and research, with diverse organisational forms and sizes, that aim at improving accountability and sustainability. 

The NGO Sector Disclosures document (2013) has adapted the GRI NGO Sector Supplement to the G4 GRI Guidelines. This document includes a set of disclosures for use by all non-profit private organisations. These disclosures include aspects of sustainability performance relevant to the sector which are not covered in the G4 Guidelines in a comprehensive way. However, the NGO Sector Disclosures complements and does not replace the G4 Guidelines. However, as the GRI Standards were updated in 2016 and they are intended for any type of organisation, these specific guidelines for NGOs are not up to date anymore. 

The Global Standard for CSO accountability

Accountable Now is a global platform of CSOs that launched this standard to implement accountability through an ongoing dialogue with stakeholders and enhance the legitimacy and credibility of CSOs. It is intended for CSOs, CSO networks and advocacy groups, governments and donors to hold CSOs accountable. The Guidance Materials to the Global Standard orient any stakeholder, policymaker or funder in using this standard and monitoring a CSO’s progress towards implementing the Global Standard. The progress indicators require two types of evidence: processes, policies and structures pointing to internal changes and impacts within the organisation; and stakeholder feedback, indicating the perceived impacts of the CSO’s actions on stakeholders. These guidelines should be adapted to local and cultural contexts, the type of organisation, and the level and scale of impact they want to monitor or evaluate.

The Access Initiative (TAI)

This is a global network that promotes civil participation in decisions that affect the environment and communities. It further develops access to information, access to public participation, and access to justice (the three “access rights”) in connection with public and private initiatives that affect local communities.

AA1000 Framework on Stakeholder Engagement Standard (tool 7)

This first international standard on stakeholder engagement was published by AccountAbility, a private research, consulting and standards organisation specialising in corporate responsibility and sustainable development. The AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard is the result of a multi-stakeholder process. This standard can be used by any participant in a stakeholder consultation process and it can be implemented by any type of organisation. The standard further provides guidance on the requirements for quality stakeholder engagement, how it is integrated into strategy and operations, and how it defines the purpose, scope and stakeholders of an engagement, among others.

Reporting systems from other countries
The Netherlands
MVO-wegwijzer ISO 26000 

It was created by MVO Nederland to support the implementation of ISO 26000. It contains four parts: principles, context (stakeholders), topics addressed by the standard, and how to implement the standard. MVO also developed the MVO-scan ISO 26000.

NPR 9036 Due Diligence 

It is a national standard released in the framework of the OECD Guidelines and the UNGP to encourage the adoption of human rights due diligence in CSR systems applied in the value chains. This standard was launched by MVO,  a Dutch  government agency.

DS 49001 CSR 

It is a national standard released by Danish Standards (DS). It develops a CSR management system to ensure sustainable business processes. It is meant for corporations located in Denmark. This certification scheme covers requirements of good management, human rights, labour conditions, environmental conditions, good business practices, consumer conditions and local social development and involvement. It is based on the ISO 26000. 

The UK 
UK Modern Slavery Act statement (2015)

This act requires organisations that fulfil certain legal conditions to submit a yearly report by means of a statement that should contain: information about the structure of the organisation and of its supply chain; a statement of policy on how the organisation is fighting modern slavery and human trafficking; information about due diligence processes implemented to identify risks of slavery and how they are being evaluated. The UK Government has also released the ‘Transparency in Supply Chain Guidance’, to support organisations in complying with the Act. 

Loi relative au devoir de vigilance des sociétés mères et des entreprises donneuses d'ordre (2016)

This law obliges stock corporations that fulfil certain legal conditions to create, implement and report on their vigilance plan, which should include risk assessment of activities to avoid actual or potential severe human rights adverse harms being brought about by the parent organisation and its value chains.