The event commenced with Mr Graham Owens, KPMG’s Singapore Director of Climate Change and Sustainability giving an overview on the upward global trend of listed companies adopting sustainability reporting, be it separately, or in conflation with the companies’ annual reports. This has been in part due to the rise of CSR as a phenomenon as well as guidelines that have been introduced. For example, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) released a how-to guide on sustainability reporting last year, encouraging firms to prepare sustainability reports that disclose their related policies and actions such as reducing carbon emissions or improving labour practices.

Nevertheless, despite these inroads made, the credibility of such reports has been called into question with some information in reports reportedly being up to 35% inaccurate. Such discrepancies in the quality of information questions the authenticity and hence validity of such reports. Therefore, it is essential for companies to undertake external assurances that focus extensively on the breadth, scope and level of assurance conducted for part or the full CR report. Mr Sharma, rounded up the event with several examples of Indian firms such as the Tata Group that KPMG has worked with in providing external assurances to shore up not just their sustainability reports, but their actual business practices as well.

Overall, the event proved to be a fulfilling one where practioners in the field of CSR were allowed to mingle and gain valuable insights about the crucial role assurance plays in sustainability reports. We look forward to perspectives from the corporate experience in the upcoming networking and sharing session on 10th February.