5 Years Of Reporting 3.0 — From Soul Searching To Transformation Journey

A personal reflection of Reporting 3.0 Managing Director Ralph Thurm

This week 5 years ago Reporting 3.0 had it’s first public facing with the 1st Reporting 3.0 Conference in Berlin, hosted by the Heinrich-Böll Foundation. We tested the appetite of the sustainability community to leapfrog from stagnation and plateauing in disclosure on sustainability. Already at that moment, and continuing still today, the participants agreed with us that we are always one to two steps behind the ‘minimally viable solution’ to serve a Green, Inclusive and Open Economy, a goal that the Rio+20 conference had thrown at us a year before, but as so often without a plan how to make it happen. It was still the time without a proper follow-up to Kyoto, and the MDGs awaiting a replacement through ‘something else’, now called the SDGs. It was the start of our ‘soul searching’ for what is actually needed to create a proper plan for leapfrogging.

Five years later, we have the Paris Climate Treaty of 2015, probably already overhauled by the newest climate realities of ‘Hothouse Earth’ in which 2 degrees are not even a minimal viable solution any longer and the magnitude of the urgency of emission reduction to even more drastic amounts than 1.5 degrees global warming is most likely needed. We have the SDGs from 2015 that are not going to create the scalability we would need to have real impact in the time remaining, and — while impactful on incremental level — still fail to engage the masses that would be needed. If less than 10% of all global multinationals now have a look at the SDGs due to their existing sustainability reporting engagement, and only a fraction of these declare that they somehow follow some of these SDGs, what can be expected? Not very much, and if expensive technical and financial implementation mechanisms are needed to get them off the ground and UN and national statisticians aren’t able to come up with a proper reporting mechanism from corporate to national to UN accounts by 2019 to give a sense of where the implementation stands, potentially even less. While we appreciate the possibility of a political process on global scale to create 17 goals that give 17 UN organisations a mandate until 2030, the biggest flaw remaining is the ‘missing SDG #18 — changing our economic system incentives’.

Reporting 3.0, through the help of hundreds of intellectual volunteers and believers in ‘positive maverickship’ — people that are relentlessly believing in turning our behaviour on spaceship Earth towards stewardship and caring for the wellbeing of every single human on this planet — is now offering the Transformation Journey program in various places around the world (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Boston, Toronto and London). It is a step-by-step program to organisational thriveability and system value creation. It connects the nano (personal), micro (organisational), meso (industry, habitat, portfolio) and macro (ecologic, social and economic system) level to create scalable impact. The program is based on the 4 pillars of Reporting 3.0’s work ecosystem, we call them Blueprints, on reporting, accounting, data and new business models. We now offer a complete ‘information infrastructure’ on how to design a Green, Inclusive and Open Economy. We haven’t seen anything more complete and systemic/holistic so far. We constantly ask our community if they’ve seen anything better than that. So far, they didn’t. But what we’ve also come to realize is that it needs the collaboration of all sorts of players to ensure a ‘pre-competitive and market-making’ approach to allow a joint leapfrog of all discliplines involved in these 4 pillars. In that sense Reporting 3.0 ensures that all involved get recommendations on how to thrive, but leaving it to them to actually implement our recommendations. Great if they do, if not somebody else (not Reporting 3.0) will. We already see that happening.

We now all have tough choices to make and some blunt truths to face. Will current economic system strait jackets continue to overrule what is sorely needed for the long-term? Will career risk overshadow the clearly visible existential risk for all of us (and how would your kids think about that?)? Will we continue to serve regimes that cure symptoms (like current reporting standards or the SDGs actually do) or taking the opportunities that arise from incrementalism to transformation? Will we understand that our current economic system is not ‘god’s given’ but is created and can only be changed by us? We often joke that the ‘Future We Want’ (the title of the Rio+20 report) is something we can wait for forever, it’s the ‘Future We Design’ that’s needed now.

But WE actually means YOU! At Reporting 3.0 we believe that there’s no sustainable business in and unsustainable world; there will never be sustainability without an ‘invisible band’ (the value and belief system that defines the costing, benefiting, pricing and taxing rules of the necessary economic system) for the ‘invisible hand’. If ‘nano’ isn’t activated, micro, meso and macro changes will never happen. So, here’s your chance to overcome current frustrations and turn them into positive energy for the thriving of yourself and all around you. The Transformation Journey Programs are made for you. Will you become a ‘positive maverick’ too? Please see our webpage https://reporting3.org/transformationjourneyprogram2/to find out which program is nearest to your own ‘Mount ThriveAbility’. We can’t wait to see you there!

Ralph Thurm is the Managing Director of Reporting 3.0. and can be reached at r.thurm@reporting3.org. A slightly shorter version of this article got also posted on LinkedIn.