17 oktober 2018

Looking back at the seminar ‘The future of non-financial reporting’ in Belgium

On Friday October 12th Sustainalize and ING Belgium organised the informative seminar ‘The future of non-financial reporting’. After two successful editions in the Netherlands, it was the first time the seminar was held in Belgium. Over sixty people from mainly Belgian organisations joined us at the ING Belgium headquarters in Brussels to learn more about non-financial reporting.

“Now that we are present in Belgium for almost two years, we have a good idea of the current developments and challenges our Belgian clients see when it comes to non-financial reporting. We believe it is part of our social responsibility to bring these experiences together and to share our knowledge.” – Lola Debersaques, Sustainalize

Vanessa Temple, head of corporate clients at ING Belgium hosted the seminar, which consisted of four keynote speakers, a panel discussion and the choice of one out of three workshops.

Firstly, keynote speaker Nick de Ruiter of Sustainalize gave an overview of the history, current and future trends in the non-financial reporting landscape. Some of the future trends he sees are impact reporting, digital and continuous reporting and storytelling.

Next, we received insight into the European Commission’s work regarding non-financial reporting thanks to Elena Arveras of the European Commission. The European Directive (adopted by the Belgian legislator in September 2017) on non-financial reporting is a first step towards harmonisation of non-financial information in Europe, but more is yet to come.

The third speaker, Ani Kavookjian of Bloomberg, showed us how investors are using non-financial information (or in her words: non-traditional financial information). She explained what is done by Bloomberg’s analysts with the data organisations provide and how this information is then used by investors to make their investment decisions. She clearly sees an increase in the demand for ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) information by investors.

Using the six capitals of the Integrated Reporting Framework, Jyoti Banerjee of the IIRC reminded us that value does not only consist of financial value, nor does capital only exist of financial capital. However, as Jyoti mentioned, “because we don’t know how to measure it, we don’t calculate it”. He gave an inspiring presentation on the way to move towards integrated thinking.

After the four keynote speakers, it was time for a panel discussion with Eric de Deckere of Antwerp Port Authority, Thibault d’Ursel of bpost and Michel Washer of Solvay. Via an online poll, the audience was invited to answer a few questions on the purpose, the process and the challenges related to their non-financial reporting. Based on the answers from the audience, the panel shared its own experiences. For instance, the panellist talked about the challenges related to the consolidation of non-financial information or the main benefits and costs of non-financial reporting.

 “If you’re wondering about the value of corporate social responsibility, think about the cost of corporate social irresponsibility.”– Michel Washer, Solvay

After a short coffee break, the participants were invited to join one out of three interesting workshops:

  • “Materiality now and in the future” by Nick de Ruiter (Sustainalize)
  • “From Integrated Reporting to Integrated Thinking” by Jyoti Banerjee (IIRC)
  • “Methodologies for climate-related risk & opportunities assessment – ING’s Terra Approach” by Kaitlin Crouch and Katharina Maass (ING)

Sustainalize and ING Belgium are proudly looking back at a successful first edition of ‘The future of non-financial reporting’ and hope to welcome you again next year. Stay tuned for more information!