Research by a Southampton Business School expert has led to a major increase in sustainability reporting by organisations in Uganda.
As a result, businesses are making changes that benefit them, the environment and the wider community – everything from reducing waste to closing the gender pay gap.
Sustainability reporting allows organisations to measure, understand and communicate their economic, environmental, social and governance performance.
Global sustainability standards
Professor of Accounting and Sustainability Ven Tauringana used his research to create training programme for Ugandan organisations, helping them prepare their own sustainability reports using global sustainability standards.
To encourage other organisations to adopt sustainability reporting, he also:
- launched a sustainability reporting quality mark to recognise Ugandan organisations that produce their first sustainability report
- set up an organisation to offer training in sustainability reporting in Uganda
Effective way to show commitment
Professor Tauringana, a chartered environmentalist, said: “Sustainability reporting is recognised globally as an effective way to show commitment to sustainable practices, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12.6.
“It can also reap financial rewards for businesses, by improving reputation and building confidence among those using their services.”
Before Professor Tauringana's involvement, only 5 businesses in the East African country produced and uploaded sustainability reports on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) website.
By the end of 2020, that figure stood at 110 – and counting.
Greenhouse gas emissions
Professor Tauringana’s expertise in sustainability reporting grew out of his research into disclosure practices around corporate greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2016, that led the Uganda Manufacturers’ Association to invite him to facilitate a workshop on measuring, reporting and managing greenhouse gas emissions in Kampala.
Attendees reported that their stakeholders were asking for sustainability reports but needed help to prepare them.
This prompted Professor Tauringana to research the challenges that were discouraging organisations from preparing sustainability reports.
His findings showed that lack of training and help to prepare sustainability reports were major factors.
In 2019, he visited Uganda again and trained 120 people from 105 organisations. Later that year, he trained 7 lecturers, who in turn trained 10 research assistants.
Sustainability reporting quality mark
Also in 2019, a sustainability reporting quality mark was launched at the Ugandan Manufacturers’ Association headquarters.
This certificate, valid for 3 years, is awarded to companies when they produce their first sustainability report. To renew the quality mark, an organisation must show that it has been preparing sustainability reports for the 3 years since being awarded the quality mark.
In 2020, Professor Tauringana was also behind the launch of Transparency for Sustainable Development (TSD) Uganda, a non-governmental organisation to promote sustainability reporting and train organisations.
Managing director Hillary Mbabazi said Professor Tauringana's research had been translated into “action that can help organisations in Uganda really make a difference to their communities, their environment and to their overall performance”.