The Amsterdam Global Conference on Sustainability and Transparency

Taking place on 26-28 May 2010, the Amsterdam Global Conference on Sustainability and Transparency will have as its theme: “Rethink. Rebuild. Report.” As a Global Reporting Initiative event, the conference will host a gathering of around 1,000 executive decision-makers from a range of firms, as well as governmental policymakers, non-government organizations and civil society. The majority, if not all, of these attendees are already actively participating in the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) – a world-wide project setting standards for sustainability, or ecological/carbon footprint, reporting. One of the goals of the GRI is to see the establishment of sustainability reporting by all organizations as a routine requirement, in much the same way as financial reporting is required.

Benefits that organizational stakeholders (OS) can expect to reap are: discounted registration fees; participation in the General Assembly of OS; entrance to an exclusive OS event, a social gathering of like-minded individuals; and recognition as OS throughout the conference – all this VIP treatment is in acknowledgement of the fact that the GRI relies on organizational stakeholders for its continued existence, which is providing an essential service in a world growing increasingly aware of the necessity of sustainable ecological practices and corporate/social responsibility.

The program for the Amsterdam Global Conference on Sustainability and Transparency includes the Readers’ Choice Awards. In addition to readers highlighting which firms and organizations compile sustainability reports of high value, the criteria of the awards draws on reader requirements and opinions, thereby shaping criteria for future reporting to add value and fulfill needs which may have been overlooked. Sustainability reporting is only worth doing if somebody is going to read it, and benefit from the information therein. And so a number of questions needed to be answered, such as: Who actually reads the thousands of reports submitted each year? What do these readers think of the reports and do they meet the needs of readers in various sectors of society and the economy? In addition to meeting the needs of current readers, the Readers’ Choice Awards aim to create awareness of reports and attract new readers. The 2010 awards will also address the question of what report makers objectives are in filing an annual report. Moreover, the awards hope to establish whether these reports move the readers to action, by changing their views and behavior.

Other features of the conference include lectures and debates on various ecological-related topics, and the Big Five Market Place competition. With investors becoming more aware of Socially Responsible Investing, and a growing number of firms and organizations genuinely concerned with the impact they may be having on the environment, the value and importance of the work done by the Global Reporting Initiative, and gatherings such as the Amsterdam Global Conference on Sustainability and Transparency, should not be underestimated.