The environmental reporting, between strategic management and “greenwashing”
Claire Kwiatkowski, Jesús Alquézar Sabadie
European Commission, Belgium
The environmental reporting as part of the Corporate Social Responsibility reporting (CSR) is one of the governance tool increasingly used by companies to measure, analyse and communicate on their ecological information. The rules and standards governing the elaboration of environmental reporting are in constant evolution and provide a framework for companies to consider non-financial aspects as business opportunities and to consequently integrate them in their strategic management via virtuous practices making possible the creation of value such as economic and financial, intellectual and productive as well as social and environmental.
However, as a genuine communication tool which is published and made available to external stakeholders, environmental reporting may also contain “greenwashed” information. In a first part, the objective of this paper is to analyse the environmental reporting of French companies quoted on the CAC 40 and to assess the meaningfulness of published information. The results of the study show that companies have developed various practices to improve their environmental performance in the reporting. Ones can be classified as practices aiming at internalising environmental externalities and the other ones leading to a phenomenon of “externalisation” of those externalities. It demonstrates the need to precise the standards, the scope and even the objectives of the reporting and presents the opportunity of developing an environmental capital and ecosystem services accounting system.
In this prospect, the second part of this article will aim to review the different initiatives to integrate the value of nature in the accounting systems of both businesses (micro level) and countries (macro level) and their possible inter-linkages.