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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Sunday, November 27, 2005

ACCA Sri Lanka launches second sustainability reporting awards

Daily Mirror: 23/11/2005"

ACCA Sri Lanka announces the launch cycle of the second Sustainability Reporting Awards to be held in Sri Lanka.

The announcement calls for applications from large scale companies or SMEs to compete on issues of sustainability that are now a priority in business values and ethics.

The deadline for submissions is set at December 20 with judging to take place in January 2006. The awards to be held in March next year are open to all types of organisations or industries, with an option of submitting entries in any format including information from an organisation’s website, which is an increasing trend in today’s context.

At the core of the judging criteria are completeness, credibility and communication, identifying and rewarding innovative attempts to communicate corporate performance, which falls in line with the sustainability concept.

Last year’s winners were Ceylon Tobacco Company Ltd. In addition, Ranweli Holiday Village received a commendation for Integration of Business within the immediate environment and Atiken Spence Hotels Ltd. received a commendation for Integration of Environment within business operations.

“Stakeholders are seeking greater transparency, organisational accountability and good governance,” says ACCA Sri Lanka President U. H. Palihakkara.

“Business is shifting from the shareholder to the stakeholder, from identifying to engaging and from engaging to involving.

The core values of economic viability, environmental responsibility and social accountability (the triple bottom line) hedge on the influences that stakeholders wield on a business,” he said.

Having mooted the awards last year, ACCA Sri Lanka believes that by rewarding transparency, it will be an encouragement for more businesses to get involved in the lessons to be learnt and best practices to be emulated.

“There will be the participation of a larger audience creating a greater awareness and understanding of the importance of CSR and a more emphatic determination to take environmental and social responsibility more seriously,” he observed.

The ACCA Sustainability Reporting Awards are already functional in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the UK and the USA with similar awards, largely based on the ACCA criteria, existing in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Environmental, social and sustainability reporting however is still in its early stages in Sri Lanka and of a relatively poor standard except for a handful of multinational companies following their parent company guidelines in social reporting by producing stand alone social reports.

ACCA Sri Lanka Manager Ajitha Perera deduces that Sustainability Reporting Awards in Sri Lanka will create a greater depth and breadth of reporting that conforms to international guidelines and best practice frameworks, which will soon become imperative in the country’s roadmap for development.

“Being an emerging economy and with aspirations of gaining more strength as a hub for South Asia, it will not be long before both SMEs and the larger businesses place more emphasis not only the ‘rupees and cents’ aspects but also on creating wealth among their stakeholders through empowerment, sustainability and greater environmental awareness,” Mr. Perera said.

He explained that more transparency, accountability, sincerity and responsibility of action by corporate concerns around the world has led to more awareness on the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility in the last decade with more than 4,000 environmental reports being produced worldwide for stakeholders to peruse.

“Through the awareness created by the first Sustainability Reporting Awards held last year, ACCA Sri Lanka has been successful in instilling the importance of adhering to standards and guidelines, the necessity to benchmark businesses against global counterparts, the need for transparency, accountability and sincerity of action and have heightened awareness of living and working productively and in harmony with the environment. None of these issues have been disseminated effectively by any organization before this as primary business principles and we are glad to have carried the mantle in helping to create the mindset in taking these fundamental trusses of corporate ethics ahead in Sri Lanka,” he also said.

Mr. Palihakkara commented that reporting varies in each organisation depending on the needs of the stakeholder groups and can either be seen in hard copy or stand alone format, separate sections in annual reports, site reports, newsletters, electronic corporate profiles, CD Roms or simply on the corporate website.

“But while each has a different cost profile to the reporting companies, what is most important is that the ultimate goals of sustainability reporting are met vis a vis expectations of all stakeholders and the company’s commitment in meeting those aspirations sincerely and responsibly,” he also said.

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