This report assesses developments in sustainability reporting regulation and policy across 71 countries and identifies a worldwide surge in the number of reporting instruments in place. The report is the fourth in the series since 2006 and is produced jointly by KPMG International, GRI, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and The Centre for Corporate Governance in Africa (at the University of Stellenbosch Business School).

The 2016 edition of the Carrots & Sticks report is the fourth in the series and marks the ten year anniversary of the project. Carrots & Sticks was first published in 2006 to provide an overview of trends in standards for sustainability reporting. The 2016 edition identifies almost 400 sustainability regulations, guidelines, codes-of-conduct, frameworks and other reporting instruments – both mandatory and voluntary – across 64 countries. The previous research in 2013 identified 180 instruments across 44 countries.

Government regulation accounts for the largest proportion of sustainability reporting instruments worldwide. Governments in over 80 percent of the countries with instruments researched in Carrots & Sticks have introduced some form of regulation that requires or encourages non-financial/ESG reporting.

The report finds that government regulation accounts for the largest proportion of sustainability reporting instruments worldwide and that mandatory instruments dominate, accounting for around two thirds of the instruments identified.

The research also revealed a high level of activity from stock exchanges and financial market regulators in issuing non-financial reporting guidelines and other instruments. They are responsible for around one third of all the reporting instruments identified in the research.

In summary we could  highlight that is now the norm in so many countries for companies to be required or encouraged to report non-financial information. However, with so many reporting instruments out there, there is a risk of overlap and duplication. An important next step is for the bodies that issue reporting instruments to focus on coordination and harmonization.

KPMG and the other project partners have launched a searchable online database that provides details of all the reporting instruments identified during the research.

Carrots & Sticks 2016 explores the following key questions:

  1. How many reporting instruments are in place?
  2. Are most reporting instruments mandatory or voluntary?
  3. Which organizations are issuing the most reporting instruments?
  4. Do these instruments cover all organizations or only specific types?
  5. Do instruments require reporting in specific formats?
  6. How many reporting instruments focus on specific environmental or social factors?

The report can be found here