Sustainability Reporting for Public Benefit Entities

10 November 2022



Increasingly private and public sector entities and public benefit organisations are embracing and implementing a range of sustainability and climate initiatives. In addition, the manner, nature and extent of sustainability reporting is evolving and standard setters like the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the parallel work on European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) in addition to ESG measures and indicator sets is seeing this area becoming an established and important area of focus for the governance and leadership teams.

This evolution requires companies and organisations (be they public, private or non-profit) to report beyond the financials and product or service delivery performance. More is expected of organisations today than has been the case heretofore, including, inter alia, how they interact with the environment, with the local community, how they treat their staff and stakeholders and other factors. Sustainability reporting can incorporate environmental considerations (e.g. energy usage and savings, carbon footprint), social considerations (e.g. gender pay metrics, support of staff development and well-being) and governance considerations (e.g. transparency, code and statutory compliance), and gives stakeholders a better picture of the health of the company or organisation - its triple bottom line (TBL). Some organisations do this in a formal, structured sense and many frameworks presently exist to inform such reporting. Others, including public bodies and public benefit entities, already report on aspects of sustainability without necessarily framing it as such – think of the annual report with an update on energy usage and climate actions, with a board and staff gender breakdown, and coverage of diversity and inclusion strategies.

Whilst no formal mandatory framework presently exists which requires public bodies and public benefit entities to report on sustainability, aware of the GRI and ESRS, a number of organisations are already doing so (e.g. CIÉ) or are giving serious consideration to adopting appropriate reporting standards relevant to their context.

The purpose of this special Forum event is to explore this theme, with a view to building knowledge and providing practical guidance and ideas for those charged with the governance of public bodies and public benefit entities. Among the matters to be discussed with the help of three expert speakers are:

The expert speakers for this event are:


Fiona Ross

Fiona is a highly experienced Board Chair and non-executive director. She is Chair of Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) and Chairs the Board's Sustainability Committee. She is also Chair of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board and of Natural Capital Ireland.

In the UK, Fiona was appointed a non-executive director at The Scottish Government in March 2019 and was appointed by the UK Government to serve on the Board of Network Rail in May 2020, where she is a member of the Sustainability Committee. Fiona also works as an advisor to the Mayor at Bristol City Council.

Fiona began her career as a stockbroker in the City of London and spent 25 years working in all areas within Capital Markets in Dublin, London, Eastern Europe, and the United States. She currently serves as a non-executive director at JK Funds, Evelyn Partners (where she chairs the Audit and Risk Committee) and SphereInvest.
She is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, Queen's University Belfast and the Institute of Art and Design (IADT) where in 2017 she completed a MSc in Cyber Psychology. In 2012 Fiona was awarded a fellowship in Governance at George Washington University in the United States

John Dillon

John is Head of NewERA which is a unit in the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) with responsibility for providing corporate finance advice to relevant Government Ministers and Government Departments in relation to the activities of a number of commercial State owned companies. He is a fellow of Chartered Accountants Ireland (FCA) and holds first class honours BComm from UCC and M.ACC from UCD.

Aidan Horan

Aidan Horan is a Director at the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) with overall responsibility for governance, assurance and related services. A qualified accountant, he is leader of the governance specialist team and is the founder member of the Governance Forum at the IPA. The spectrum of governance services provided by the Institute incorporates training, consultancy, advisory and supports for client organisations, boards, committees, chief executives and senior leadership teams and managers.

In addition to his work with board and senior leadership teams, Aidan has also been nominated to a number of non-executive roles over the years including as Audit Committee Chairperson, Department of Finance and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. He is also a member of the Public Financial Management Board and the Sustainability Panel at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy [CIPFA] (UK).