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  • ASX-listers have been quick to pledge sustainability targets in recent years, but a new report has questioned whether there are sufficient disclosure requirements in place to track them
  • The report acknowledged a “rising trend” in reporting on sustainable development goals from the top end of the ASX
  • It also highlighted concerns surrounding the voluntary nature of sustainability reporting
  • According to the report, 42 per cent of the ASX150 have pledged to achieve carbon neutrality, with 11 per cent attaining this goal so far

ASX-listers have been quick to pledge sustainability targets in recent years, but a new report has questioned whether there are sufficient disclosure requirements in place to track them.

The study conducted by RMIT University and the United Nations Association of Australia sought to analyse disclosure practices surrounding sustainable development goals (SDG) made by the top 150 Australian public listed companies between 2018 and 2020.

The report focused primarily on disclosure practices concerning the Australian Modern Slavery Act 2018, corporate commitment to carbon neutrality and how businesses associate SDGs with their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sustainability reporting is voluntary in Australia however the report affirms these disclosures are a “burgeoning” matter among businesses owners, investors and the global community.

It found the number of companies incorporating SDGs into their performance targets had almost doubled since 2019 but cautioned disclosure requirements on how these targets are set and tracked remains limited.

Lead author Professor Nava Subramaniam maintains the voluntary nature of reporting means companies need to be held accountable.

“We identified a number of ASX150 companies that prioritise SDG13 Climate Action but remain silent on their commitment to carbon neutrality,” she said.

“While there are expectations that companies prioritising SDG13 Climate Action would be more transparent on their stance on carbon neutrality, not all are meeting this requirement.”

According to the report, 42 per cent of the ASX150 have pledged to achieve carbon neutrality, with 11 per cent, or 17 companies, attaining this goal so far.

Broadly, the report concluded the extent of awareness, commitment and governance support for the SDGs had substantially improved but that ASX-listed companies still have a large part to play.

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