Novo scores corporate reporting hat trick

European award judges praise greater focus on sustainability, predict more internet reporting

An increased focus on sustainability and a move towards more use of the world wide web were two of the main trends identified by the judges of this year's European corporate environmental reporting awards, announced yesterday.

"We are all mindful that the future will be broader than the pure environmental and wanted to acknowledge that this time," said the chair of the judges' panel, Roger Adams of the UK Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). "We also feel that online reporting could be better for some stakeholder groups in the future, since relevant environmental information can be so quickly updated in this way."

Danish pharmaceuticals and biotechnology company Novo Nordisk took first prize for the third time in the award's three-year history. This was despite a record field of about 20 entrants from six different countries, up from four last year (ENDS Daily 7 July 1998). Portuguese firms are set to enter the scheme next year and Italy's national accountancy organisation has also expressed a strong interest.

The judges found it "extremely hard" to give the prize to Novo Nordisk yet again, for fear of discouraging other entrants, but it was also "inconceivable" not to reward what was a "state of the art" report, Mr Adams said. The awards were presented at a dinner in London to mark the formal launch of the Ceres global reporting initiative (GRI) for environmental, social and economic reporting, and the judges felt it was vital to showcase the very best of European practice.

Novo's report "took trouble explaining standard environmental issues, with a lot of good detail on financial costs," Mr Adams said. "However, it went well beyond this in tackling complexities including liabilities such as contaminated land and the use of genetically modified organisms in its biotechnology products."

Two awards went to German firms, which entered the contest for the first time, along with French companies. Otto Versand was one of a pair of runners up, for "a well-constructed report which is one of the first ever received from retail and mail-order companies and demonstrates that reporting is not just a field for heavy industry," Mr Adams said.

German organic brewer Neumarkter Lammsbrau secured a special commendation for small and medium-sized companies, a group which has been underrepresented in previous years. Its excellently conceptualised report contained a very "sustainable-environmental" approach, the judges said. The other runner-up was Anglian Water of the UK, which "dealt with benchmarking and financial issues particularly well, and had clear targets on eco-efficiency." Cooperative Bank, also of the UK, was also specially commended, for its attempt to address the needs of particular stakeholders.

Follow Up:
ACCA, tel: +44 171 396 5700.

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