ISO releases environmental report assurance standard

Providing guidelines on assurance for environmental reports, the ISO 14016:2020 standard will help companies build trust and confidence into the data reported.

“The credibility of any environmental report starts with a company’s commitment and actions. The standard means that users can have confidence that the results of those actions are correctly shared. For example, that the environmental data has been collected using a credible process, are accurate and provides the necessary level of transparency,” says Antonio Astone, Supply Chain Solutions Manager in DNV GL-Business Assurance and member of the ISO working group developing the standard.

The new standard ISO 14016:2020: Environmental management — Guidelines on the assurance of environmental reports is prepared in accordance with recognized standards and protocols for reporting.  Providing guidelines on the assurance of environmental reports, it will help clarify the process from the perspectives of assurance providers, stakeholders and organizations reporting on their environmental performance.  Providing principles and guidelines for assuring the environmental information an organization includes in its environmental reports, special consideration has been paid to identifying the competence needed by the assurance provider.

"The publication of ISO 14016 indicates that environmental reporting has become part of the process of improving transparency. Corporate reporting continues to grow in both scope and relevance, providing stakeholders with valuable information. I hope this standard helps to inform reporters, users and assurers alike and so improve the process of assurance,” says Dr. Ben Vivian, Assistant Professor, Coventry University and ISO Working Group 6 Convenor.

An environmental report incorporates voluntary and/or legally required disclosure by an organization of environmental information. Beyond external transparency, environmental reporting provides companies with a structured approach to data collection and improvement of their environmental performance. It provides internal and external transparency on opportunities and risks.

“With different stakeholder groups – investors, regulators stock exchanges, customers and consumers— paying greater attention and demanding transparency, sharing trusted non-financial information is increasingly critical. The ability to build independent trust into the environmental reporting is becoming essential and will help companies improve their environmental footprint and stakeholder value,” says Antonio Astone.

While the focus of the ISO 14016 standard is environmental reports, the practices described are applicable to a wide range of reporting. This includes social, sustainability and integrated reports, for example.