The Cutting Edge of Corporate Sustainability Disclosure: Scope, Metrics, Standards, and Ratings

October 21, 2014 9:30 am — 3:05 pm
Washington, DC

Many firms regularly publish voluntary corporate environmental or sustainability reports beyond what is required by law or regulation. They also disclose sustainability data and information in reporting formats developed by third parties, such as the Global Reporting Initiative and the CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project). In addition, organizations such as Dow Jones and Newsweek create and publish sustainability indices or rankings, often in conjunction with other firms that conduct the analyses. This special ELI event presented a series of discussions on a cutting edge issue for corporate environmental management and examined key environmental disclosure challenges and opportunities that corporations and their counsel face today, including:

  • the scope of voluntary corporate environmental reporting in 2014;
  • leveraging the expertise of both the corporate Environment, Health & Safety team and legal staff;
  • pros and cons regarding standardized metrics and benchmarks;
  • the reliability and value of external rating systems across industries and time; and
  • the idea of integrated reporting, in theory and practice.


9:00-9:30 a.m. Registration/Networking/Coffee
9:30-9:45 a.m. Welcome Remarks
John Cruden, President, Environmental Law Institute
9:45-10:30 a.m.

Keynote Speaker:
"A Value Driver Approach to Corporate Sustainability Reporting"
Dan Esty
, Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy,
Yale Law School & Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

10:30-10:40 a.m.


10:40 a.m.
- 12:00 p.m.

Key Challenges in Sustainability Reporting Today
The panel will briefly recap the modern history of voluntary corporate environmental reporting and then discuss challenges, such as scope, metrics, risk, and value, all of which factor into overall utility.


12:00-12:10 p.m.


12:10-1:30 p.m.

Lunch Dialogue on Integrated Reporting


  • Hilary French, Program Officer, Regional Office for North America, United Nations Environment Programme
  • Paul Hagen, Principal, Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.
  • Julie Hatcher, Partner, Latham & Watkins LLP [PDF]
1:30-1:40 p.m


1:40-3:00 p.m.

Sustainability Rating Initiatives: Benefits, Burdens, and Pressing Issues
This panel will examine sustainability rating systems from the perspectives of the rating organizations, the companies that are rated, and the stakeholders that use the information in making investment, lending and other decisions. Topics will include: best practices and challenges associated with developing and implementing valuable, fair and effective ratings; the credibility of rating systems and rankings; internal corporate strategies and management challenges associated with rating initiatives; and the future of sustainability ranking systems, as they grow in number and approach.


3:00-3:05 p.m.

Closing Remarks
Linda Breggin, Senior Attorney, Environmental Law Institute