11 October 2019

What we learnt at ‘The future of non-financial reporting’ 2019 in Brussels

On October 4th Sustainalize and KBC Group joined forces to offer insights into the sustainability and non-financial reporting landscape, practical lessons from companies and other stakeholders’ perspectives. The seminar was hosted at the KBC Group head office in Brussels, where more than 80 participants, representing different Belgian organisations, came to learn more about reporting non-financial information.

Nick de Ruiter (co-founder Sustainalize) sketched the landscape of sustainability reporting, showing the audience that over the years many different guidelines and frameworks have been developed.

Overlooking the next decade, Alain Deckers (Head of Unit, DG FISMA, European Commission) stressed that in working towards a European Green Deal, a Sustainable European Investment of over €1 trillion is needed. Part of this will need to be financed by the private sector, for which investors require high quality standardised sustainability information.

Katelijn Bohez (communications and investor relations manager at Bekaert) shared some of the reporting challenges she faced during her 30+ years of experience at Bekaert. These include maintaining a good reputation as a responsible company and reporting ever more data. Her answer to these challenges are a clear aspiration and a decent management structure with sustainability targets deployed within departments.

Expert Panel Discussion

During a panel discussion facilitated by Lola Debersaques (Partner Sustainalize), experts represented external stakeholders’ interests and wishes for sustainability information. Aleksandra Palinska (Senior Regulatory Policy Advisor at EFAMA) raised attention to ESG data: “There insufficient availability and quality of ESG data is the real problem. Robust, consistent, standardized, reliable and public ESG disclosures by investee companies are essential to make Sustainable Finance work in practice and channel the necessary financing to sustainable projects. Meanwhile, as pointed out by the Alliance for Corporate Transparency project, European companies fail to report meaningful information about their impacts on society and the environment. The report finds that 90% of companies report on climate change, but merely 47% specify clearly what precisely their policy was designed to achieve and how.”

A potential solution came from Hilde Blomme (Deputy CEO of Accountancy Europe): “With more than 1000 reporting frameworks a certain degree of standardisation is needed, as well as sectorial benchmarks and more top-down regulation.”

David Szafran, supervisory board member at the FSMA and lawyer at Eubelius, opened up the debate whether to widen the scope of mandatory sustainability reporting to smaller and/or non-listed companies. After that, Sebastien Godinot, Economist at WWF International, stressed the importance for companies to report sustainability information that relates to the core strategy.

Yves Nissim (Orange)

After a brief break, the audience dispersed into three break-out sessions. Nick de Ruiter gave helpful and instructive tips about how to start with non-financial reporting. Piet Verschuere (KBC Group) further shared practical insights in developing a climate strategy and implementing the TCFD requirements at KBC Group. Yves Nissim, CSR manager at Orange Group, shared his experiences at Orange showing his successful approach to building an open dialogue with stakeholders.

KBC Group and Sustainalize are proudly looking back to an interesting day and a successful second edition of this seminar. We hope to welcome you again next year!

For more detailed information about the event and presentations, we invite you to read our blog ‘Reflections on ‘The future of non-financial reporting’ 2019′.

Note: if you were not able to attend and are interested in the presented material (presentations), please send us an email