The Herald (Harare)

20 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Produce Sustainability Reports, Firms Urged

COMPANIES have been challenged to focus on sustainability issues when they compile their financial reports in line with current international trends.

This will highlight non-financial information that provides a balanced presentation of the sustainability performance of respective organisations including both the positive and negative contributions.

Addressing journalists at the 2013 Delta Corporation Financial Reporting workshop in Kadoma last week, Mr Rodney Ndamba from the Institute for Sustainability Africa bemoaned the failure by most companies in Zimbabwe to incorporate sustainability reports in their periodic financial reports.

Mr Ndamba added that only a few companies had embraced the need to report on sustainability issues and also blamed journalists for not taking an interest in reporting on such issues, choosing instead to only focus on the financial aspects of these reports.

"It is sad to note that Zimbabwe is still lagging behind with regards to sustainability reporting. The media should also take the initiative to get involved in sustainability reporting.

"Most companies are pre-occupied with disclosing how much profits they made instead of going a step further in explaining how the environment within which they were operating influenced those results.

"There are three key aspects that organisations need to address in sustainability reports namely environmental, social, and economic issues in relation to the results they would have posted at any given period of time," said Mr Ndamba.

Environmental issues are currently topical and by publishing, for example, an organisation's waste management policy together with its financial report, it demonstrates its commitment to protecting the environment in which they operate.

"A sustainability report provides both internal and external value to an organisation as internally it helps identify strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, connects departments and also helps achieve competitive advantage and stakeholder relationships among others.

"Externally it enhances reputation while achieving trust and respect for the organisation, it also demonstrates commitment to sustainability and enables comparability and benchmarking," added Mr Ndamba.

In South Africa it is a pre-requisite to provide a comprehensive sustainability report within an organisation's financial results and globally there is the Global Reporting Initiative that seeks to promote economic, environmental and social sustainability by providing organisations with a comprehensive sustainability reporting framework used worldwide.

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