Oh look Rome's on fire again

I did it, I managed to make my way through John's concise (thank god) summaries and interview and even managed to scan through the stangely quiet IIRC website and was I inspired?  Did the Earth move or stop heating? Nope.

This discussion group started with a question over whether accountants "got it" and if not, why not.  I suspect that this latest iniative and the hype surrounding it will generate sufficient blank looks or hostility to answer the second bit of the question.

I'm lucky, I went through all this a year ago with the Daddy of reporting iniatives the GRI so, for those who are new to all of this, here's a summary of my experience.  Please bear with me it's boring but no more than is absolutely necessary.

The original environmental reporting framework started in the USA in the early 90s and, following the policy of the "World Series" formed the Global Reporting Iniative in 1997.  The USA however was probably the last place in the World to start such a project and so, in order to justify the "G" (and 6 years of talking) got itself a passport and talked a bit more, only now in a variety of different languages.

It encountered differing agendas, probably along the lines of "the environment's interesting but how about...." and was persuaded to tack on social, economic and governance issues to its remit and, in 2000, came up with its sustainability reporting framework guidelines.

This was followed 2 years later by version "G2" and "G3" arrived in 2006 and, as a result, in 2007, ten years after its inception, it was proud to announce that "over 1,000 organisations now self declare the use of GRI guidelines in their sustainability reports"........yet it still kept the "G"!

Despite huge underwhelment I went on to find its 2008/09 report which told me that over 1,000 organisations "worldwide" had issued sustainability reports based on the GRI G3 guidelines in 2008 - "the highest number ever recorded and an increase of 46% on the 2007 figure".  At this point I lost the plot but was amused to see that of this number the USA (100) was 20 behind Spain and 42 ahead of the UK.

Finally & ironically (they said paradoxically) they had to admit that despite their guidelines being the bees knees (my words) other organisations were getting in on the act offering alternative reporting iniatives.  Having spent the best part of 20 years doing it and only getting 1000 organisations signed up, was it any wonder?

Hope you're still with me.  The point of all this is that this all seems like same old-same old, especially as the gRI is now connected with the IIRC.

I am wholly in favour of reporting these things but surely you have to "do" something first, ie the organisation and accountant has to understand and acknowledge its environmental, resource and social impact before it can even begin to understand how and why to report on it.

There's a growing number suggesting that all of this is already too late and that, rather than measuring footprints we should be making fire retardant shoes, they may be premature, but I doubt they will be in another 20 years.

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Group: Sustainability and accountants discussion group
Discussing issues related to resource management and environmental issues for accountants.