Your Sustainability Shopping List

We are almost at the end January and there is already a growing list of activities and aspirations for the proactive Sustainability Manager in 2019. It’s now time to focus on the priorities of a Sustainability Manager.

If you are looking for inspiration, and want to freshen up the tired strategy from previous years, read on. Before reading Acclaro’s top 5 sustainability priorities, we should remind you that underpinning all of these areas is the need for good quality data to be captured and interpreted. Without which little can be achieved.

1. Developing a Social Value Approach

Globalisation offers many positives, but the drive for cheaper goods and services has affected not only, supply chains but also the communities that companies work within.

Social Value is currently measured on the value and impact of the corporate, rather than the benefit derived by the community. Some are scrambling to measure a monetary value. Assessing the benefits that supply chains can bring, or engaging with communities we operate within, is surely the first logical step.

We suggest, take a step back. The first stage is to understand what already takes place across the business coupled with assessing the needs of the community in which you operate, (or serve if you are a public-sector body). Capturing this information will help to develop a cohesive programme of engagement. This can be structurally managed across internal, supply chain and community programmes. There are many benefits to gain from a social value programme. This includes an increasing number of tenders requiring some form of disclosure of the value you create, so now is the time assess what your organisation can bring to society.

2. More accurate GHG Supply Chain Emissions

The reporting of greenhouse gases provides an ever-greater understanding of how our organisations impact climate change. However, when it comes to affecting change, it can be difficult to understand which areas of a business to target that will yield the most effective results. Carbon emissions from the supply chain is being increasingly scrutinised. Therefore, understanding these burdens and your ability to target them effectively is critical.

Using economic models based on annually updated economic data can map supply chains and associated emissions. The data from industrial Supply and Use tables is combined with emissions factors to create a model that maps national emissions linked with the spend of an organisation. This maps the entire organisations economy using matrix algebra to link environmental and economic data. Save yourself time and move away from the bottom up approach that sees us plot only a small proportion of supply chain emissions very inaccurately. There are other ways of doing it, and you can have a greater impact on climate targets by using correct data to being with.

3. Energy Audits and Reporting

Carbon emissions and energy consumption remain some of the biggest risks and contributors to climate change. The move towards nearly zero carbon buildings is accelerating with standards being developed as part of the wedges associated with science based targets.

The first stage should always be to minimise emissions and the energy being consumed through an effective understanding of how and why energy is used the way it is. Regulations are asking for public disclosure allowing for greater scrutiny and the need for verified and accurate information to be disclosed.

Significant quantities of information exist, but translating this into usable data and tangible outcomes from dynamic systems is the challenge – but can yield significant savings in excess of 15% energy reduction.

4. Environmental Risk Management

Whilst often initiated and implemented as part of management systems, the recent driver for climate and biodiversity related risk evaluation has come from the investor community. The premise is simple and equates to understanding the environment’s impact on you. These disclosures are targeted at mainstream investors and are intended to help them assess whether climate risk is appropriately priced in to their valuation of your company, enabling investors to make more informed decisions

Techniques and approaches for the scenario testing are still in development, but this year will see an increase in the understanding of the risks and early stages of validating the implications. Early movers will benefit from the opportunities available.

5. Building a Responsible Business Culture

Finally, this is the piece that joins the dots together. Business culture is changing and the expectations of new employees and our major consumers are dictating different terms – we now have a language of Purpose.

Responding to the societal pressures, the increased level of data, reporting pressures and investor requirements will necessitate a different response from organisations. And that culture needs to extend beyond the four walls of the sustainability team, into business and towards supplier management and sales programmes.

This is a long journey, that connects together forward risks, social benefits and environmental impacts, a develops a long-term strategy. Ultimately it will mainstream your role, but a concept we need to grapple with is, will it make it redundant? In time, perhaps some day-to-day operational parts. But there will always a need for strategic thinking and forward planning.

Acclaro Advisory wishes you a belated Happy New Year, and we hope to see you at many an event to discuss the direction you are taking for a sustainable future.

Good luck with putting  your priorities as a Sustainability Manager into action.