Sustainability reporting in the public sector

Evolving Climate Accountability: A Global Review of Public Sector Environmental Reporting

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"Sustainability reporting in the public sector is in its infancy, and there is an evolutionary journey to be embarked upon – sooner rather than later."

Rob Whiteman, CIPFA Chief Executive, in the foreword of Evolving Climate Accountability: A Global Review of Public Sector Environmental Reporting, July 2021

The climate crisis sits at the top of global, political, and economic agendas. The practice of sustainability reporting, which draws together not only environmental but also social and economic measures, is now widespread in the private sector.

Yet sustainability reporting in the public sector is in a markedly different place. CIPFA recently surveyed public sector practitioners from around the world to explore what public bodies globally are doing to report their impact on the climate.

In June 2021 we published the results of these findings in Evolving Climate Accountability: A Global Review of Public Sector Environmental Reporting. The report is intended to provide a baseline from which the evolution of public sector sustainability reporting can be measured.

Key sustainability highlights

Key areas identified by the research, for further consideration by public sector bodies, include:

  • clarity on the definition and scope of sustainability reporting
  • accelerating the alignment and harmonisation of existing frameworks
  • committing to public sector sustainability reporting at an institutional and organisational level
  • recognition of the key role of assurance in sustainability reporting
  • prioritising the development of broader skill sets, expertise or assurance activities
  • integration with wider forms of reporting
  • promoting and strengthening institutional arrangements for oversight and scrutiny

Explore the key sustainability highlights

Further insights

As part of our commitment to sustainability reporting, a wide and in many ways uncharted arena, we have issued a suite of discussion papers building on our initial findings. They focus on the development of consistent standards for public sector reporting, building on existing frameworks, and defining reporting boundaries.

Explore the sustainability insights

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Contact us

To discuss the report in further detail please email Nina Johansson, CIPFA's Sustainability Advisor: