Sustainability is a word I use and hear every day and it could be said the catch phrase of this generation… it means learning how to use current resources in a way that does not harm the future. Yet the wisdom of sustainability is rarely applied to love, which, I believe is the source of life energy from which all else springs. Love is an action verb and a developmental skill set which evolves with time and practice.
Williams said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - the world leader on research into climate change - had produced a report last year linking some types of "extreme weather" with man-made climate change.
"So if you are talking about extreme weather globally there has been some observed increase in some types of extreme weather and there is some evidence, depending on which types of extreme weather you are talking about, of a link between man-made climate change and some types of extreme weather," he said.
Williams said that this research was supported by attribution studies which looked at specific weather-related events, such as Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the Caribbean and North America, or a drought in East Africa.
Focus on material issues
ma·te·ri·al adj. Being both relevant and consequential; crucial:
The new Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G4 guidelines focus on materiality as a critical element of true, transparent sustainability reporting. “What” is material…and “why”…and “how” will this affect your company’s sustainability reporting, strategy, and results? Sounds simple!
Businesses face growing threats from extreme weather and climate change: damage to facilities, loss of water or power supplies, higher costs, and disruption of supply and distribution chains. Recent trends in climate risk disclosure seem to support the view that climate risks don’t belong in sustainability reports: the Center for Energy and Environmental Solutions (C2ES) recently released a comprehensive report on Weathering the Storm: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change. They compared S&P 100 companies’ responses to Carbon Disclosure Project questionnaires to their sustainability reports, and found that 85 out of 100 responded to a CDP questionnaire saying that they had been adversely affected by climate change. However, 35 of these also mentioned those impacts in their sustainability reports. Did 50 out of the 100 S&P companies decide that climate risk was not material?
There is much written about materiality, burdensome reporting and the need to reduce reporting complexities. I recently had the privilege of reading the draft of a Colleagues book on sustainability reporting where there is the following quote: "Materiality is like packing a backpack for a hike: you can only bring the supplies that are absolutely critical, otherwise the weight will slow you down and eventually bring you to your knees.”
This emphasises why we prioritise and focus on the most material topics as a company journeys to sustainability.
Then there are the many definitions of materiality as it relates to sustainability, including the GRI definition published in the G4 guidelines: “Material Aspects are those that reflect the organization’s significant economic, environmental and social impacts; or that substantively influence the assessments and decisions of stakeholders.”
G4, extends organisational accountability beyond its direct material impacts to its indirect material impacts. These internal and external factors should be considered when evaluating the importance of information for reflecting significant economic, environmental and social impacts, or stakeholder decision making. A range of established methodologies may be used to assess the significance of impacts. In general, ‘significant impacts’ refer to those that are a subject of established concern for expert communities, or that have been identified using established tools such as impact assessment methodologies or life cycle assessments. Impacts that are considered important enough to require active management or engagement by the organisation are likely to be considered to be significant.
How is your company dealing with climate change? Have you identified risks and opportunities? Tell us more in the Comments section.
On 2 December GRI is to launch a new service to check whether the most critical disclosures in reports based on the G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines are located as stated, and can be easily found by readers.The new service reflects G4’s increased emphasis on the need for organizations to focus – both in the reporting process and the final report - on those topics that are material to their business and their key stakeholders. This ‘materiality’ focus will make reports more relevant, more credible and more user-friendly, enabling organizations to better inform markets and society on sustainability matters.
The service focuses exclusively on 11 disclosures related to materiality, boundary and stakeholder engagement. Reporting organizations that choose to take advantage of the service will receive formal acknowledgement from GRI that at the time of publication, the disclosures G4-17 to G4-27 from the GRI G4 Guidelines have been correctly located in both the Content Index as well as in the final report. This acknowledgement will be made via an official GRI-branded message which reporting organizations can include prominently in their report to communicate to their stakeholders that the report has been checked.
GRI will start accepting applications for the new service from 2 December 2013. The first 20 reporting organizations to apply for the service will receive it free of charge. Thereafter the check will cost 1,750,- Euro excl. taxes. The service is offered free for GRI Organizational Stakeholders (OS).
Nelmara Arbex, GRI’s Chief Advisor on Innovation in Reporting, said: “This service is designed to assure readers and reporters alike that the most critical part of the GRI Content Index is correctly and clearly presented. The 11 disclosures relating to materiality, boundary and stakeholder engagement are the essence of G4.”
Further details of the service will be included in the December edition of the GRI newsletter.
from → GRI
Kye Gbangbola looks at the latest guidance from the GRI on sustainability reporting and its focus on materiality for the environmentalist.
THE G4 GUIDELINES: Welcome to the G4 Guidelines – enabling all companies and organisations to report the sustainability information that matters.
"The G4 Guidelines have increased user-friendliness and accessibility. They are presented in two interconnected parts: Links to part 1 and part 2. Internal links help the reader navigate through the documents.
The emphasis on what is material encourages organizations to provide only information that is critical to their business and stakeholders. This means organizations and report users can concentrate on the sustainability impacts that matter, resulting in reports that are more strategic, more focused, more credible, and easier for stakeholders to navigate.
AMONG MANY OTHER FEATURES, KEY ENHANCEMENTS IN G4 INCLUDE:
New: up-to-date disclosures on governance, ethics and integrity, supply chain, anti-corruption and GHG emissions
New: generic format for Disclosures on Management Approach
New: two ‘in accordance’ criteria options, both focused on material Aspects
New: GRI Content Index offering a transparent format to communicate external assurance
Technically-reviewed content and clear disclosure requirements
Detailed guidance on how to select material topics, and explain the boundaries of where material impacts occur
Flexibility for preparers to choose the report focus
Flexibility to combine with local and regional reporting requirements and frameworks
Up-to-date harmonization and reference to all available and internationally-accepted reporting documents
Overview tables, summaries and quick links to specific Guidelines’ components
Complete Glossary, reference lists, and visual guidance
from → GRI