The KPMG Survey of Sustainability Reporting 2020

The time has come

The first edition of the KPMG Survey of Sustainability Reporting was published in 1993, and this year’s edition is the 11th they have released. To compile this report, KPMG professionals reviewed sustainability reporting from 5,200 companies in 52 countries and jurisdictions, making this year’s the most extensive survey in the series to date.

This survey is meant to provide a detailed look at global trends in sustainability reporting and offer insights for business leaders, company boards and sustainability professionals — while also serving as a guide to investors, asset managers and ratings agencies who now factor sustainability or Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) information into their assessment of corporate performance and risk. 

  • The underlying global sustainability reporting rate has risen by 5% since the last survey in 2017
  • 100% of the top 100 companies in Japan and Mexico report on sustainability
  • In 2020, 55% of companies that disclosed carbon targets linked them to external targets, up from 37% in 2017
  • Less than 25% of “at-risk” companies worldwide currently report risks from the loss of biodiversity
  • Around 40% of companies now acknowledge the financial risks of climate change in their reporting
  • Almost all sectors exceed a 70% reporting rate, except retail
  • Among the world’s 250 largest companies, the underlying trend for third-party assurance of sustainability data is 71%
  • Use and application of GRI standards increased to 95% in 2020
  • Companies in the automotive, mining, utilities, and technology, media and telecommunications sectors lead with 70% or more disclosing carbon targets
  • Companies in the healthcare sector are trailing, with 40% disclosing targets to reduce their carbon emissions


Of companies worldwide now report on sustainability

1 in 5

Companies reports climate risk in line with TCFD recommendation

Sustainability reporting is now so nearly universally adopted, that the small minority of companies not yet reporting will find themselves seriously out of step with global norms.

Adrian King

Co-Chair, ESG & Sustainability Services, KPMG IMPACT

The number of companies that acknowledge the risk of climate change in their financial reporting has increased significantly since KPMG’s last survey in 2017. This growth is in large part due to the work of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) in raising corporate and regulator awareness of climate change as a financial risk, and in developing recommendations for disclosure of climate-related risk.

Biodiversity is an all-encompassing term for what many regard as nature-related risk. It includes food supply, soil, clean water supplies, landscapes and forests. Biodiversity risk disclosure is currently low as many companies currently lack a sophisticated understanding of how biodiversity-related risk could affect their business. They also lack access to tools and methodologies to help them model and disclose the risk impacts. KPMG predicts a rapid development in this space and disclosures are likely to take a sharp upward trajectory, mirroring the patterns being seen in climate-related disclosure.


We predict a further tightening of focus of non-financial reporting on investors’ needs, more harmonized reporting based on common metrics and further coalescence towards a global corporate reporting system. The time has come.

Wim Bartels & Jennifer Shulman

Co-Chairs, Impact Measurement, Reporting & Assurance Services, KPMG IMPACT