Transparency in non-financial reporting; labour rights abuses by fashion brands; and FAO warnings on biodiversity are highlighted in Oliver Balch’s latest roundup of sustainability news

The corporate reporting landscape has changed dramatically in recent times. Two decades ago, most companies weren’t sure what they were doing on social or environmental issues, let alone how to report on it. A decade ago, policies and practices were increasingly commonplace, but public disclosure remained sporadic. Today, the regulatory environment is much clearer and company performance much improved. Yet major transparency challenges still remain.

So concludes a detailed recent report by the Alliance for Corporate Transparency, a coalition of civil society organisations and experts set up to analyse corporate compliance with the EU Non-financial Reporting Directive, which came into force in 2018. On the positive side, the research finds that the “vast majority” of corporate reports acknowledge the importance of environmental and social issues for their business. Less positive is the lack of clear information that companies are providing about material issues, targets or principal risks. On environmental issues, only 50% of company reports hit the mark.

Take water issues. The alliance’s report, which focuses primarily on the extractive and energy sectors, finds 74% of energy companies provide details of their water consumption levels. Yet only 24% do so in reference to water-scarce areas. Similarly, 74%...

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