Framework for a sustainability report - How could a sustainability report for Chalmers be designed and what components should it contain?
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AbstractChalmers University of Technology has identified a need to publish a sustainability report. This thesis aims to act as a framework for the report, by investigating what components Chalmers’ sustainability report ought to contain and whom it should target. The thesis also gives guidance on how the information needed for the report can be collected and how it preferably should be published. The thesis comprises a rather extensive section on important events and common concepts related to the field of sustainable development, in order to assure that readers without education in this field will have a sufficient foundation to understand the basic rationale and contemporary history to the relatively new phenomenon of sustainability reports. The reader to this report learns that the motives for producing a sustainability report differ for the different reporting entities. Common advantages with a sustainability report may be increased loyalty with customers, increased transparency and it can be a source for cost savings; a sustainability report may also in some industries merely be an order-qualifier. In order to achieve these advantages, a proper identification of the target groups to the report needs to be conducted, which usually is a smaller group than the stakeholders in general. This thesis presents four suggestions to target groups for Chalmers’ sustainability report: future students, employees, other universities and alliances/networks; these groups may have to be convinced of the virtue of sustainability reports. Further this thesis includes an empirical examination of environmental reports and sustainability reports published by eleven different actors. The reporting of environmental indicators are often well aligned with the recommendations from Global Reporting Initiative, which is the most influential actor on sustainability reporting, whereas reporting on social indicators differ between reporting entities and the indicators for economic sustainability are under-developed. Tendencies are present that the field of sustainability reports will be more regulated in the future; Chalmers does not however at this state need to focus too much on this but can concentrate on finding indicators that mirror the activities of the university. Chalmers must also follow the debate on how the reporting of economic sustainability is best carried out, and adapt this to its own organization and activities when it comes to research and education. Generally, literature says very little about how information can be collected practically but more that it has to be integrated in the regular routines in order not to get too expensive or time consuming. For Chalmers, the information needed for social and economic reporting can, in most cases, be withdrawn from the regular human resources and financial information systems whereas routines need to be developed for data collection to the environmental indicators. The environmental reporting should be based on the demands from ISO 14001 certification, which Chalmers intends to be certified according to, in order not do conduct a double workload.