Economic and Environmental Performance Indicators in Belgian GRI Reports

Valerie Cappuyns, Chiara Vandenbulcke, Kim Ceulemans


Despite the upsurge in sustainability reporting worldwide, there is still a large gap between the reporting rates of different countries and sectors around the world. This paper analyzes how Belgian organizations report the economic and environmental performance indicators in their sustainability reports, with the aim to evaluate the quality and completeness of this information. Besides a detailed content analysis of Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reports of Belgian organizations, synergies with new developments, such as the GRI G4 guidelines and integrated reporting are sought. Economic aspects are generally reported through disclosure of a larger number of indicators, as compared to environmental aspects, most likely because of financial reporting obligations. Nevertheless, huge differences exist between organizations (mainly between private and non-profit organizations) with respect to the amount and quality of information that is provided on these economic indicators in the GRI reports. Environmental performance indicators are often only reported on a basic level, but in a more consistent way, with limited differences between organizations. Moreover, there was no significant correlation between the use of a certified environmental management system (ISO 14001 or EMAS) and the quality of environmental reporting. There is also a clear difference with respect to the reporting behavior of service suppliers and manufacturers or distributors of goods, mostly in terms of number of indicators reported on. Finally, the possible application of existing indicators that integrate economic and environmental aspects in sustainability reporting is discussed. Including “integrated indicators” within the GRI framework may be a step forwards to integrated reporting. 

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Copyright (c) 2014 Valerie Cappuyns, Chiara Vandenbulcke, Kim Ceulemans

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Environmental Management and Sustainable Development  ISSN 2164-7682

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