Assuring our approach
SABMiller has commissioned Corporate Citizenship to provide external assurance and a commentary on its 2012 sustainable development reporting. The reporting comprises the SABMiller Sustainable Development Summary Report 2012, sectionsof the website to which that report provides a web address and the pages addressing sustainable development in the Annual Report 2012.
The scope of our assurance
The assurance provides the reader with an independent, external assessment of the reporting and, in particular, with how it corresponds with the AA1000 standard. It is intended for the general reader and for more specialist audiences who have a professional interest in SABMiller's sustainable development performance.
SABMiller has chosen to use the AA1000 assurance standard AA1000AS (2008). Our assurance is a Type 2 assurance as defined by the standard, in that it evaluates the nature and extent of adherence to the AA1000AS principles of inclusivity, materiality and responsiveness and assures the performance of the organisation as reported here. Our assurance used disclosed information as its starting point and then investigated the underlying systems, processes and sustainability performance information to arrive at its conclusions.
We have also assured the performance information in the report. The criteria used are the GRI G3 Principles for Defining Report Quality.
The level of assurance is moderate as defined by AA1000AS (2008).
SABMiller is entirely and solely responsible for the contents of the report, Corporate Citizenship for its assurance. As noted, our assurance is confined to elements of reporting cited above.
A detailed note of our assurance methodology appears at the end of this statement.
Opinion and conclusions
In our opinion the SABMiller's sustainable development reporting for 2012reflects the principles of AA1000 (2008): inclusivity, materiality and responsiveness.
We have also provided a commentary, included in the SABMiller Sustainable Development Summary Report 2012, which contains feedback that can help the company and its stakeholders identify where its reporting can be strengthened in future.
Specific comments in relation to the three principles of AA1000 are as follows:
Inclusivity: Does the organisation accept a responsibility to those on whom it has an impact? Does it involve stakeholders in developing a strategic approach to corporate responsibility and sustainability?
SABMiller has a history of involving stakeholders in the development of its approach to sustainable development.
It accepts its responsibility to those on whom it has an impact. This is evident throughout the reporting. It is stated clearly in the joint statement at the start of the SABMiller Sustainable Development Summary Report 2012.
We believe that its approach and the activities it undertakes show that SABMiller reflects the AA1000 principle of inclusivity.
Materiality: What are the issues that really matter to the organisation's sustainability performance (“material issues”)? How does the organisation identify these issues?
SABMiller has made progress on material issues during the year. This is evidenced in the reporting which has been restructured to highlight four main areas.
We note distinct progress with regard to the four key areas: beer in society, inclusive growth, natural resource constraints (characterised as the ‘water-food-energy’ nexus) and employees.
The developments build upon SABMiller’s own direct operational experience, a recognition of developments in public debate about the issues and the work SABMiller has done with stakeholders.
During the reporting period SABMiller issued reports on the socio-economic impact of Accra Brewery Limited in Ghana; the Coca-Cola/SABMiller value chain impacts in Zambia and El Salvador; Farming Better Futures; the contribution made by SABMiller to the European economy; and the Water Futures Partnership. Each of these was either published jointly with other stakeholders or was based on independent research. Taken together they provide substantive evidence of evidence of SABMiller working with others to establish a deeper understanding of its material impacts.
We believe that its approach and the activities it undertakes show that SABMiller reflects the AA1000 principle of materiality.
Developing understanding of material issues poses challenges for presentation of performance in future reporting. As understanding of issues deepens and changes, a reporter faces the question whether the measures previously used are sufficient to evaluate performance. In SABMiller's case this has implications for the underlying evaluation processes in the Sustainability Assessment Matrix (SAM), notably for inclusive growth and the water-food-energy nexus. This should be reviewed and addressed in future years' reporting.
Responsiveness: Does the organisation respond to stakeholder issues that affect performance through its actions and communications?
Last year we said that future company-wide reporting would be strengthened by the inclusion of more of the voices and experiences of key groups and organisations, to demonstrate how SABMiller responds to their needs and expectations when working with them.
SABMiller has in the Sustainable Development Summary Report 2012 provided a dedicated section on stakeholder commentary. The stakeholders quoted comment not solely upon SABMiller's work with them in identifying material issues but also in delivering solutions. We note that the comments address beer in society, inclusive growth and natural resource constraints, most particularly with issues related to water use.
The AA1000 principle of responsiveness addresses both actions and communications. We note that SABMiller does respond to stakeholders both by issuing subject-based reports (such as the Water Futures report published in August 2011) and at a local level through country-based reports published by their local businesses (such as the Botswana report published in the same month). The reports deal broadly with the questions and concerns that stakeholders have raised and show how SABMiller and its subsidiaries are in action with other stakeholders on an issue- and locality- basis.
We believe that this demonstrates that SABMiller reflects the AA1000 principle of responsiveness in its sustainable development programmes.
Reliability of performance information
As noted last year, the SAM system for collecting and reporting sustainability data is ‘self-certified’ by local operations. SABMiller is strengthening the system through more detailed common definitions, through the involvement of internal audit, through more in-country SAM reviews and through continuing training.
In this year’s reporting SABMiller identified a previous inaccuracy in reporting relating to a US$7 million overstatement of the CSI contribution in 2011 identified through improved reporting. This is addressed at www.sabmiller.com/communities. SABMiller has also improved reporting regarding industrial injuries, which is addressed on page 17 of the Sustainable Development Summary Report 2012. With the exception of these two issues, nothing has come to our attention that causes us to believe that the statement that SABMiller’s sustainable development data meets the GRI Principles for Defining Report Quality is not fairly stated.
19 June 2012
The assurance work was commissioned in March 2012 and was completed on 19June 2012. Detailed records were kept of meetings and correspondence relating to the inclusivity, materiality and responsiveness of the report, as well as to technical matters relating to the accuracy and presentation of data. A team of three, led by an Associate Director, undertook the assurance and commentary process. A director acted as adviser to the group. The team has a variety of professional and technical competencies and experience. For further information please refer to our website www.corporate-citizenship.com.
Our external assurance and commentary process for SABMiller's sustainable development reporting 2012 has involved, but not been limited to, the following elements:
Discussion with SABMiller's management about reporting the company's approach to sustainable development, policies, performance measures, benchmarks, stakeholder relations and future plans;
Examination of the report at set stages in its development and testing of the assertions throughout on a section-by-section basis drawing from evidence and supporting documentation;
To understand the current approach to managing sustainable development as well as key developments and challenges during the period under review, we conducted interviews and conference calls with key members of staff in Colombia, India and Zambia;
Scrutiny of letters of representation from SABMiller companies;
Scrutiny of minutes and agenda of Corporate Accountability and Risk Assurance Committee meeting;
Examination of the operation and results of the Sustainability Assessment Matrix by examination of data and interviews with staff in Australia, Colombia and the United Kingdom;
Interview with a representative of one of SABMiller's key NGO partners;
Assessment of the reporting against the GRI principles for defining content;
Assessment of reporting against detailed definitions given by AA1000 for inclusivity, materiality and responsiveness.
Our work did not extend to a complete audit of the report's contents. We have not been responsible for the preparation of SABMiller's sustainable development reporting 2012 nor in devising the internal management and reporting systems that yielded the data contained therein.
The opinions expressed in this external assurance statement and commentary are intended to extend understanding of SABMiller's non-financial performance and should not be used or relied upon to form any judgments, or take any decisions, of a financial nature.
Corporate Citizenship is a leading assuror of corporate responsibility reports. The company is a member of AccountAbility (Institute for Social and Ethical AccountAbility).
We have worked with SABMiller on sustainable development reporting since 1999and have provided assurance since 2003. During the reporting period our work with SABMiller focused exclusively on assurance, except as noted below.
SABMiller is a member of the LBG (London Benchmarking Group www.lbg-online.net), an evaluation framework for corporate community involvement which we manage on behalf of its members and adherents.
In addition, we undertook a separate benchmarking exercise to review best practice in stakeholder sustainability communications and engagement on issues materially relevant to SABMiller.
Sustainable Development Report
Our 2012 Sustainable Development Summary Report, covering progress on our 10 priorities.