Conservation impact investing totaled approximately $23 billion in the five-year period from 2009 to 2013, according to a new report by EKO Asset Management Partners and The Nature Conservancy’s NatureVest division.During the same period, private investments accounted for almost $2 billion of this market — an amount that is growing at an average of 26 percent annually, and is expected to reach more than $5.6 billion by 2018.
In part one of this two-part series, I wrote about the complexity of sustainability data and the challenges associated with organizing, analyzing and integrating it into our day-to-day business systems. At this time, however, the majority of the data used to address our sustainability programs and goals is environmental data. The sustainability field has a pretty good handle on the use and impacts of utilities, materials, transport, etc. What we may not be as familiar with are the data that help support our social sustainability objectives, and the methodologies that allow us to do product social footprinting.
By now, most readers of these pages will have noticed the emergence of social and environmental monetization schemes intended to quantify in financial terms the otherwise non-financial impacts of organizations. But do these schemes really qualify as sustainability measurement and reporting systems or even integrated reporting methods as some of their makers claim?
The Clorox Company has reduced its greenhouse gases emissions by 12 percent and the amount of waste it sends to landfill per case of product sold by 34 percent since 2011, according to the company’s 2014 integrated annual report. Altogether, these footprint reductions and product sustainability improvements have averaged $15 million in annual cost savings since 2008, helping to offset raw material cost increases and enable investments in innovation and demand creation.
The Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences announced its initial, successful fielding of the Vital Capital Index for Dairy Agriculture (VCI) with the Agri-Mark dairy cooperative, best known for its flagship brand of award-winning Cabot dairy products. Nearly 94 percent of the cooperative’s 1,200 member farms completed Level 1, the “Awareness” portion of the VCI.
Recently, DNV GL announced the results of our latest Tomorrow’s ValueTM Rating (TVR), a benchmark of global best practice in sustainability. For the 11th year in a row, we evaluated how well companies understand their risks and opportunities — and how prepared they are to create future business value through sustainable business practices.
Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) is a growing force in markets across the world. According to the US SIF Foundation, the responsible investing market in the US increased 486 percent while the broader US market of professionally managed assets grew 376 percent between 1995 and 2012. SRI investments are generally demand-side driven. More and more investors are looking for vehicles that are aligned with their values and priorities. In 2014, the total Assets Under Management (AUM) of the 1,278 signatories of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), which include asset owners, investment managers and professional service partners, totaled $45 trillion. The SRI niche is not going away.
“How do you get buy-in and get the resources to implement a sustainability campaign? How can you prioritize this over firehouses being shut down and teachers’ salaries? We need data and research.” — Roya KazemiOn Friday, the final day of #NewMetrics '14, Roya Kazemi — director of GreeNYC for the NYC Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability — led a candid and engaging conversation about public-private partnerships at the city level. Session attendees brought their own examples from the cities of Copenhagen, Vancouver, Lexington, North Carolina, and closer to home in Lowell and Cambridge, Mass.
Rounding out the final afternoon of Sustainable Brands’ New Metrics ‘14, Susan Hunt Stevens, founder & CEO of WeSpire, led a candid, data-rich conversation with representatives from TD Bank, Intel and CA Technologies about their employee engagement programs.“These three people are doing really amazing work not only in employee engagement, but more importantly, connecting employee engagement to broader business value and key HR metrics,” Stevens said.
It’s Friday afternoon at New Metrics ’14, and next on the agenda is a workshop offering data-based insights and recommendations on top global supply chains risks from specialists in the field.The conversation was co-led by Andrew Savini, Manager of Supplier Management & Audits at Intertek, and Mark Robertson, Head of Marketing & Communications at Sedex, who shared their companies’ data analyses of supply chain risks and real-world experience.
Straight through to the end of the final day, #NewMetrics ’14 continued to introduce ideas and tools for gathering intelligence from previously unavailable or unusable data, as panelists from all over the world gathered to share their experiences, tools, tips and lessons learned.
There is power in the data that a crowd can provide — business- and future-shaping data. The final breakout session at Sustainable Brands’ New Metrics ‘14 conference in Boston highlighted definitions and examples of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing to achieve a stated social purpose. The following four approaches to big data are exciting experiments in social change driven by the crowd.
“Sustainability is about being multidisciplinary. If you only look at a narrow slice or issue, you will not find a sustained solution.” — Tony KingsburyChemical expert Tony Kingsbury’s Friday afternoon breakout session on his leading-edge research into chemical evaluation tools and certifications asked us all to consider the products around us and how much we truly know. The session led attendees through his journey to uncover what an overload of chemical evaluation tools means for experts, companies and consumers.
Bill BaueThe final morning of Sustainable Brands’ New Metrics ’14 conference started with an invitation from MC Bill Baue, co-founder of the Sustainability Context Group, to imagine “what if?” sustainability pioneer Donella Meadows were in the room and what she would say.
A two-part session on Thursday afternoon explored sustainability context through examining the evolution of corporate sustainability goals, and case studies from leading companies proactively applying it to their goal-setting processes.First, Sustainability Context Group co-founder Bill Baue — moderator of both parts — led a discussion on the state of corporate sustainability goals and equipping companies with practical advice on how to incorporate context.
“I conceive that the great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by false estimates they have made of the value of things.” — Ben FranklinWhy should companies bother with ratings? They show leadership and scale. This second-wave afternoon workshop on day 2 of New Metrics ‘14 delved into this concept in detail, revealing insights into recent developments in ESG ratings, and what they mean for companies and brands.
This afternoon workshop on day 2 of #NewMetrics caught attendees up with the latest from early adopters of integrated reporting. Practitioners have always aimed to derive the best way to report status, progress and value of sustainability work, but the Holy Grail of processes has been elusive. Four leaders in this area gathered in this session to discuss the lessons and challenges from their experience of adopting integrated reporting.
National Geographic’s 2014 Greendex, released today by the National Geographic Society and GlobeScan, finds that concern about environmental problems has increased in most countries surveyed, and that more people expect that global warming will negatively affect them during their lifetime than in 2012. Despite this, the survey — a comprehensive measure of consumer behavior in 65 areas related to housing, transportation, food and consumer goods — shows that corresponding consciousness in consumer behavior has only grown slowly.
Thursday, the second afternoon at Sustainable Brands’ New Metrics ’14 conference, featured a follow-up deep dive session into the topic of one of the morning’s well-received plenary presentations — how to quantify a product’s “social footprint” as a next step in assessing sustainability.While the sustainability field has developed many ways to assess products’ environmental footprints, until now few tools have helped accurately measure the social impacts that products have on workers, local communities, suppliers, consumers and more throughout their life cycle.
It is no secret that markets are starting to demand a more complete picture of businesses' interactions with environmental and social realities of the world — a new, expanded set of success factors and risks to inform key stakeholders — or simply #NewMetrics. How New Metrics are conceived, brought to life, communicated effectively, and perfected over time, are the key questions metrics experts in the Sustainable Brands community are tackling this week at New Metrics '14, taking place in Cambridge, MA, in partnership with the Sustainability Initiative at the MIT Sloan School of Business.