April 18, 2005

Vancity awarded Ceres prize for sustainability reporting

Vancity Credit Union, a Vancouver-based financial services company, was the sole Canadian recipient of the third annual Ceres-ACCA North American Awards for Sustainability Reporting, presented last week in Toronto. The company was awarded a Commendation for Sustainability Reporting.

The three other winners for this year include: Hewlett-Packard, of Houston, Texas (Best Sustainability Report); YSI Best, of Yellow Springs, Ohio (Small and Medium Enterprise Report); and Gap Inc, based in San Francisco, California (Commendation for Social Reporting).

Vancity finished a close second behind HP and is the top report in the financial services sector. Vancity's 2002-03 Accountability Report details the company's economic, environmental and social performance. Completed in accordance with GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) guidelines, the report contains excellent stakeholder engagement elements and references a substantial amount of benchmarking.

"Vancity has long measured itself against a triple bottom line of environmental, social and financial performance," says Elain Duvall, chair of Vancity's board of directors. "It's an honour to be recognized alongside such distinguished company and gratifying to see that more and more, organizations are starting to realize that good business is good for business."

The winners were selected from a record number of entries-68, from 66 companies. From these, 18 entries were shortlisted, including eight Canadian companies: Dofasco, Enbridge, Placer Dome, PotashCorp, Talisman Energy, TransAlta and Vancity. An eight-member international judges' panel with representatives from Harvard University, Industry Canada, Domini Social Investments, Pollution Probe and SustainAbility amongst others, met in January to select the award winners. The judging criteria focused on completeness, credibility and effectiveness of communication.

As the top winner, Hewlett-Packard's 78-page 2004 Global Citizen Report presents three-year goals and targets on a wide range of priority issues, including electronic waste reduction, improving environmental and social performance in its extensive supply chain and increasing global access to information technology.

"We are seeing sustainability reports improving and growing in importance," noted Lynn Beauregard, administrative director of ACCA Canada. "The number of reports submitted to the judges increased by 40% this year. The best reporters are also integrating all of their component communications-Web site, print copy report, special reports-and placing reference to sustainability or corporate social responsibility on their home page or the next level of their Web sites."

Now in its third year, the North American Awards for Sustainability Reporting are presented jointly by the international Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Ceres, a Boston-based coalition of 85 environmental groups and investors. The Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR) and the Sustainable Enterprise Academy (SEA) are endorsers of the awards program in Canada. The Awards aim to:

*encourage better reporting on sustainability-economic, environmental and social-performance by corporations and other organizations across North America;

*reward best practice and provide guidance to those that are publishing or intend to publish sustainability, environmental and/or social reports; and

*increase accountability for impacts and responsiveness to stakeholders.

ACCA has promoted transparency in reporting the impact of business activities on sustainable development for over a decade and is involved in reporting awards in more than 20 countries across the world. Ceres, formed in 1989, created the Ceres Principles, a pioneering ten-point code of corporate environmental conduct which led to the adoption of environmental principles by mainstream companies worldwide. In 1997, Ceres launched the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), which has become the international standard for corporate reporting on the "triple bottom line" of economic, social and environmental performance. GRI is now an independent institution, with more than 640 companies using the guidelines.

More information is available from Paul Costello at ACCA Canada, 416/483-4328, E-mail Paul.Costello@ca.accaglobal.com, Web site www.accaglobal.com/sustainability; or from Peyton Fleming of Ceres, 617/247-0700, ext 20, Web site www.ceres.org.

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