Sustainability Reports- Real or Greenwash?

Private corporations exist and operate with the sole purpose of profits and for that they need to exploit resources but they are wise enough to present even worse things in much decorated manner. Corporate world has been inventing and evolving new devices and tools to fake things but in more sophisticated, prudent, legally accepted and respectable ways. And in today’s economic scenarios where environment has become hotpot businesses have evolved a new device termed as sustainability report. Theoretically a sustainability report contains information about environmental, social, economic, and governance performance of the reporting organizations but in practice these documents are nothing but public relations document aimed at branding.

Across world on investigation of some major firms, it has been observed that the firms often misrepresent the facts and information about its operations (environmental and social impacts) to present themselves as a responsible and environmental friendly to the public. Such practices are more common in environmentally hazardous (highly polluting and carbon emitting) sectors like oil exploration, mining and chemical etc. It has been seen that such firms most often emphasis on those aspects of environment which they can paint in favourable ways while not mentioning the harm they had made to other remaining aspects of environment and society. In the name of sustainability reports firms publish manipulated comprehensive reports outlining their goals and emission and drainage statistic. Such imbalanced and manipulated reporting cannot be sustainable in medium to long term but this a new but accepted fashion. But truth is that sustainable development is not dependent on reporting statistics published in these reports but on other the realities. So such reporting practices are nothing but green washing.

Global Reporting Initiative has attempted to provide with a framework for sustainability reporting through a number of recommendations and applications but these are not legally enforceable and most of the firms hardly follow these recommendations. Instead they follow their own ways and lack verification of data and information help them. But at the same time there are a few companies that are really serious about their reports but these numbers are so less and hardly belong to polluting industries like petroleum and mining.

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