UN agency releases new guidelines on corporate environmental accounting

13 February 2004

The environmental performance of corporations and its link to their bottom line is the subject of new guidelines released today by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Ciba Specialty Chemicals has already become it the first multinational company to base its environmental reporting on the UNCTAD model, which is published in The Manual for the Preparers and Users of Eco-efficiency Indicators.

The manual aims to standardize the presentation of a company's environmental performance and how this relates to financial results. According to UNCTAD, information on environmental performance "is increasingly demanded by stakeholders, especially in the post-Enron era."

Issues covered in the guidelines include water use, energy use, contributions to global warming, ozone-depleting substances and waste.

UNCTAD chief Rubens Ricupero, in a preface to the manual, says that while it is tough to quantify the impact of environmental factors on financial results, "the concept of eco-efficiency, where increased profits are achieved under conditions of declining environmental impact, demonstrates such a link."

Ciba Specialty Chemicals Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Armin Meyer hailed the UNTAD guidelines as "well founded and forward looking."