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Sustainability reporting remains sporadic in countries where both nonfinancial reporting regulations and stakeholder pressures are absent. Even in Europe, where nonfinancial reporting has had a longer history compared to other regions, there are significant differences in levels of transparency across countries. For example, there is as wide a gap in the levels of disclosure between companies in the United Kingdom and Poland as there is between companies in Japan and Pakistan.
The lack of comparable nonfinancial reporting regulations across jurisdictions has in part made sustainability reporting a globally uneven practice. In a few countries, mandatory nonfinancial reporting requirements have led to significant increases in disclosure rates. In the absence of mandated disclosure, in some countries industry-led initiatives and stakeholder pressure have also been major drivers of disclosure.
This 2018 edition of our analysis of trends in corporate sustainability reporting uncovers some of the gaps in nonfinancial disclosure, identifies areas where progress has been made, and highlights key issues that companies should keep on their radars. We analyzed data on sustainability disclosure and performance on 90+ environmental and social practices for more than 5,000 companies in 23 countries, spanning Asia-Pacific, Europe, and North America.