Non-financial Indicators in Annual Reports

  • Study on the uptake of the EU directive which requires reporting on non financial indicators in annual reports. Within the project 80 annual reports from Germany, France, UK and Scandinavia have been analysed.

    Project Data

    Funding: Bundesumweltministerium und Umweltbundesamt
    Projectpartners: Borderstep Institut, Institute 4 Sustainability
    December 2005 - December 2006


    Umweltbundesamt (Hg.) Lagebericht zur Lageberichterstattung. Eine Analyse der Verwendung nicht-finanzieller Indikatoren <An Analysis of the Use of Non Financial Indicators in Annual Reports>

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    Information at UBA

Sustainability Reporting in SME

  • Sustainability reports are increasingly common in multinational companies. The GRI Guidelines almost became a standard, but they still seem to be too complicated for SME. Those SME with EMAS Management already have an EMAS statement which is a good basis for a sustainability report. The manual assists people to use an EMAS statement to set up a sustainability report.

    Project data

    Funding: Bundesumweltministerium und Umweltbundesamt
    Projectpartners: Borderstep Institut, Institute 4 Sustainability, Adelphi Consult,
    December 2005 - December 2006


    Bundesumweltministerium, Umweltbundesamt (2007)
    EMAS - Von der Umwelterklärung zum Nachhaltigkeitsbericht <Modern Environmental Communication. From the EMAS Statement to a Sustainability Report> 

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International Study of the Benefits of Verifying Sustainability Reports

  • While verification of sustainability reports is common in the UK and USA, this type of external quality check is rarely applied to German reports. Businesses, NGOs and policy makers are still sceptical as to whether external verification is improving the quality and the credibility of the reports.

    NGO representatives are also sceptical about the value of verifications provided by accountants. In their opinion, credibility depends on the reporting style, comprehensiveness regarding the companies' material sustainability issues and openness to problems. Some of them suggest that NGOs or similar critical organisations should provide verifications to improve credibility.

    Accountants stress that verification not only leads to improved credibility but also to relevant internal benefits, such as improvements in data management.

    The study provides material arguments for the current discussion on verification. It is based on an analysis of existing standards and on interviews with European experts from business, accountants and NGOs.

    Project data

    Project of IÖW and 4sustainability
    Researchers: Jens Clausen (project manager) Thomas Loew
    Sponsored by: Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Protection and Nuclear Safety
    Project period: 2004-2005


    Clausen J, Loew T (2005)
    Mehr Glaubwürdigkeit durch Testate? Evaluation des Nutzens von Testaten in Nachhaltigkeitsberichten <More Credibility by external Assurance? Evaluation of the benefits of verifiying Sustainability Reports>


German Ranking of Sustainability Reports

  • The German ranking of sustainability reports follows on from the former rankings of environmental reports in 1995, 1996, 1998 and 2000. The new ranking takes up the development of sustainability management and CSR. The criteria of the past rankings of environmental reports have been extended to include social and economic requirements. In particular the work of GRI, SustainAbility as well as the requirements of SRI-rating agencies have been considered. As a result the evaluation of the reports is based on a clear set of criteria. We are proud, that contrary to other rankings, we promote transparency and always publish the criteria applied.

    The German ranking considered all of the available environmental, sustainability and CSR reports from the 150 largest German companies in industry, trade, banking and insurance. The results were published Feb, 2005 in the business magazine "Capital" and on project website

    Project data

    In co-operation with future e.V. and IÖW
    Researchers: Thomas Loew (project manager), Jens Clausen (former IÖW), Udo Westermann (future e.V.)
    Sponsor: none
    Project period: Aug 2004 - Feb 2005


    Clausen J, Loew, T, Westermann U:
    Sustainability Reporting in Germany: Summary of the Results and Trends of the 2005 Ranking

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    Loew T, Clausen J (2005)
    Ranking der deutschen Nachhaltigkeitsberichte: Anforderungen und Bewertungsskala zur Beurteilung von Nachhaltigkeitsberichten, <Ranking of German Sustainability Reports: Requirements and Scale for the Evaluation of Sustainability Reports>  Download at