Sustainability is not new

All companies are created to provide goods and services and receive money in return. There are many in the business community who maintain a sustainability roadmap which is the execution plan for company strategy. However, in recent times, the term sustainability is more often equated with environmentalism, social good as well as good economics as the singular focus on financial gain. Thus there is now a broad scope of sustainability strategies, with variable focus. Wherever your company is on the spectrum, if you’re evolving your sustainability strategy, Reporting 3.0 has tools you can use.  This multi-part series focuses on “the ‘burning questions’ of Boards and Sustainability Professionals” and is sure to promote robust discussion and the potential to create actions for business that can sustain everyone and everything on the planet. 

The Current State

For many of our clients, either the regulatory environment or investment industry scrutiny is the main catalyst for action. Tools like Sustainability Accounting Standards aid investment decisions while Reporting 3.0 recommendations will provide the next iteration of tools and thinking around integrated financial and sustainability reporting. Both serve as resources for decision-making, strategies and business model design.  Even as the UN Sustainable Development Goals have helped countries and industries set common sights and aiming points, the path to reach these goals is complex. Many competing standards/guidelines have been created to address these issues. Without a common context these standards and guidelines often address symptoms or specific parts of the problem that lose sight of potential system-level solutions. This may be where Reporting 3.0 will help most.

The Gap

“Unfortunately, a 2017 study of 40,000 sustainability reports issued since then found that only 5% make any mention of ecological limits, and only 31 of 9,000 reporting companies (0.3%) integrate such limits into their strategy and product development. Reporting 3.0 calls this the Sustainability Context Gap  The practice of companies determining what’s “material” to their businesses emerged in the financial accounting and reporting worlds to establish thresholds between what’s relevant, and thus obligatory to disclose to inform financiers’ decision-making, and what’s not…”  While there some generally agreed accounting practices – subjectivity and lack of linkage to ecological and social systems reigns. If your company is at the point where you want stronger integration of ecology and social responsibility, the Plan-Do-Check-Act method will be useful. Many of our clients already use this continuous improvement model. Reporting 3.0 recommendations build planetary system context into the Plan phase. 

Context

If your company buys into the notion that planetary resources are finite and the preservation, even regeneration of them is paramount, then the UNEP summary  All companies should apply a context-based approach to sustainability reporting, allocating their fair share impacts on common capital resources within the thresholds of their carrying capacities.  applies to you. 

Figure 2: Doughnut Economics & Planetary Boundaries (Sources: Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics, Chelsea Green, 2017; Stockholm Resilience Centre, Planetary Boundaries) 

Use of planetary boundaries as a context for setting operational goals enables sustainable business. Is your company ready to advance your sustainability strategy? We’re here to help. 

 

Read the full series at: medium.com