Sustainability Reporting


Governments, investors, partners, consumers, and other stakeholders are stepping up the pressure on companies to integrate environmental and social issues. With sustainability reports playing a strategic role in this setting, the information they contain has got to be reliable. Mark Fraser, Sustainability Business Development Manager at Bureau Veritas Certification Global Business Line, tells us about the vital job performed by third-party assurance in tackling this challenge.

“We provide assurance that the information contained in a company’s sustainability report is accurate, relevant, complete and consistent.” That’s how Fraser sums up the objective of the Bureau Veritas Assurance of Sustainability Reports (ASR) Service. An independent assurance report against recognized standards demonstrates an organization’s commitment to customers and stakeholders alike. It provides a level of comfort to key decision-makers, who know that the information they use for business decisions and strategy is reliable and complies with relevant reporting frameworks.


The assurance process comprises four phases: 

  1. scoping and planning (confirm reporting scope and timelines with the client), 

  2. detailed assurance (request information from client, conduct preliminary data review and client interviews),

  3. internal delivery and completion (conduct in-depth data and process review, close out any remaining open issues) indepdendent review and internal sign-off within the assurance team,

  4. external delivery, when the client receives their assurance opinion statement (for public use, usually within the sustainability report) and management report (for internal use to help with improvement planning for the next reporting cycle).

These reports address inherently broad and complex themes. With Europe’s new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) slated to come into effect for Europe’s largest companies in 2025 for reports covering FY 2024, the complexity level is set to go up yet another notch. Getting reporting right relies on bringing recognized expertise to bear, which is then checked by assurance practitioners, providing an extra layer of trust to the report user, whether they be an investment analyst, customer or regulator. Bureau Veritas experts tackle a series of tasks to make this happen, as Fraser explains: “We sample data, follow audit trails and interview key staff responsible for areas of material sustainability impact, risk or opportunity, or as data owners.”




To fully demonstrate an organization’s commitment to its customers and stakeholders, an independent assurance statement also needs to meet recognized standards. This affords a level of comfort to decision-makers, who can be confident that the information they use for business decisions is dependable and aligned with relevant reporting frameworks.

To this end, Bureau Veritas experts assess sustainability reports written to align with a range of international standards and frameworks, such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) and Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Bureau Veritas has a strict policy on impartiality and follows accepted international assurance standards ISAE 3000 and AA 1000 AS, which also require extensive ethical integrity, such as independence from conflicts of interest. These standards detail the best-practice approach to conduct an assurance engagement. Having the right personnel is critical, Fraser confirms: “We choose a competent team. We train our people thoroughly. They have sector knowledge requirements and often technical specializations, such as Diversity Equality and Inclusion (DE&I), Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions verification or Health and Safety (H&S).” At the end of the job, an “independent technical review” check is performed by another assurance practitioner who was not involved in that particular client’s engagement, to make sure that procedure has been followed, and that a conclusion has been reached based on actual evidence that has been reviewed by the assurance team.


Bureau Veritas’ client, a global household name in pharmaceuticals, needed to build reliability and stakeholder confidence on sustainability data and reporting: 200 KPIs published in the Sustainability Data Summary (selected data and text claims included in the Annual Report and TCFD Report). The scope of the solution included their global operations and spanned all environmental and social data. Bureau Veritas’ experienced sustainability team provided a robust and efficient global assurance process as per the ISAE 3000 standard. 

The continued partnership over a 10-year period and Bureau Veritas’ resulting experience with their existing systems ensured smooth project management. Bureau Veritas has delivered assurance statements to be published in their annual sustainability report in line with the ISAE 3000 standard requirements. Management reports detailing the findings were also provided, identifying genuine opportunities and challenges to inform internal stakeholders’ efforts to continue improving their sustainability.


To provide an even higher level of assurance, some providers, including Bureau Veritas, draw on broader know-how. What separates Bureau Veritas from its competitors is its “boots on the ground”, says Fraser, “our inherently practical approach backed up by people with expert backgrounds.” Bureau Veritas teams include sustainability assurance practitioners with further educational qualifications in relevant ESG topics and experience with monitoring and reporting systems, rather than auditors with a financial reporting background. All of which offers additional assurance to companies that the information they provide to their stakeholders is reliable, robust and can be fully trusted.