September 6, 2004

Ceres, ACCA invite applications for 2004 Sustainability Reporting Awards

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Ceres, a U.S. coalition of environmental and investor groups last week opened applications for the 2004 Ceres-ACCA North American Awards for Sustainability Reporting. These awards, the first of their type in North America, are entering their third year.

Last year, 52 Sustainability Reporting Award applications were received from 48 companies, half of them Canadian. Moreover, two Canadian companies, Suncor Energy and Dofasco were among the five winners, with Suncor taking the top award overall. Both ACCA and Ceres are anticipating an increase in the number of applicants this year.

The purpose of the awards program is to acknowledge and publicize best practice in reporting on sustainability, environmental and social performance by corporations and organizations and to provide leadership to those that are publishing or intend to publish sustainability reports. ACCA has been promoting greater transparency in corporate reporting of social and environmental impacts for over a decade and is involved in similar reporting award programs throughout Europe, Africa, and the Asia Pacific region.

Any Canadian, American or Mexican company, institution or organization can submit a report to the Ceres-ACCA North American Awards for Sustainability Reporting 2004. Companies may apply on their own behalf or be nominated by others.

An organization not based in one of the three countries can submit a report if it focuses solely on a site or subsidiary based in Canada, the U.S. or Mexico. The awards will be given for reports published in year 2004 for year 2003 performance.

There are three reporting award categories: Sustainability Reporting, Environmental Reporting and Social Reporting. The same report cannot be entered into more than one category.

The awards are not intended to endorse or reward company performance in any of the three areas, but rather to acknowledge exemplary disclosure that places performance in the broader context of sustainability challenges, risks and opportunities. The judging criteria address completeness, credibility and quality of communication. A jury of eight to ten judges will be selected shortly and will include North American leaders and experts from diverse backgrounds.

"Sustainability reporting is a key driver of corporate social responsibility behaviors," said Lynn Beauregard, administrative director of ACCA Canada. "It plays a vital role in improving not only communication, but also credibility and trust between organizations and their stakeholders. It also provides a clear framework for all stakeholders to compare companies on their environmental performance", she added.

Ceres and the ACCA cite a growing worldwide trend to adopt the standards set out in the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) when reporting on corporate social responsibility (CSR), environmental and sustainability performance. The number of companies around the world adhering to the GRI standard has more than doubled in the past year to over 500. Many more companies, while not fully complying with the GRI standard, have begun to report on sustainability, social and environmental performance of their organizations.

In North America, the trend is less advanced, but awareness is increasing, partly because of a tougher regulatory environment. For example, this year Canadian Securities Regulators issued rules asking for fuller disclosure of material issues and risks involved with social and environmental matters in the Management Discussion and Analysis section of annual reports.

ACCA is the world's largest international accountancy body with 320,000 members and students in 160 countries. Ceres, founded in 1989, is a coalition of 85 environmental, investor, labor and advocacy groups working together to increase corporate responsibility worldwide. It has persuaded dozens of companies to endorse the Ceres Principles, a ten-point code of environmental conduct, and publicly report on their performance. More information is available from Paul Costello at ACCA Canada, 416/483-4328, E-mail, Web site; or Nicole St Clair at Ceres, 617/247-0700, ext 20, E-mail

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