At a conference on New Metrics, it seems fitting to begin with a discussion of the current state of life cycle analysis (LCA), one of the earliest quantitative tools that practitioners had for measuring impact. Initially applied to a narrow set of functions such as carbon footprinting, today’s LCA has evolved to incorporate expanded dimensions, issues and scale, as we learned in this half-day workshop on the morning of day one.
In the world of CSR, tools enable practitioners to extend capabilities; when we think differently, we can do differently. In the new and ever evolving world of sustainability, understanding how we can use tools to do better at answering the questions of the field will enable progress. Leaders in this burgeoning area gathered Wednesday morning at MIT Sloan, day one of the New Metrics ’14 conference, for a workshop to discuss new, easy-to-use tools aimed at supporting and enhancing the work of sustainability practitioners in every field, and the impacts of access to new, accurate and verifiable data.
More than $100 trillion in cumulative public and private spending, and 1,700 megatons of annual carbon dioxide (CO2) — a 40 percent reduction of urban passenger transport emissions — could be eliminated by 2050 if the world expands public transportation, walking and cycling in cities, according to a new report released by the University of California, Davis, and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP).In addition, an estimated 1.4 million early deaths could be avoided annually by 2050 if governments began requiring the strongest vehicle pollution controls and ultralow-sulfur fuels, according to a related analysis of these urban vehicle activity pathways by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) included in the report.
Surveys of corporate executives consistently find that sustainability is now viewed as a core business issue. Recently, McKinsey released the results of another such survey that opened: “Company leaders are rallying behind sustainability, and executives overall believe the issue is increasingly important to their companies’ strategy.” Other surveys, such as those regularly undertaken by GlobeScan and SustainAbility, consistently offer broadly similar conclusions.
"Too much of what led up to the crisis in the old bubble days — the conspicuous consumption, the latter-day Gatsbyism — was fueled by a need to fill a huge emotional and psychological void left by the absence of meaningful work. When people cease to find meaning in work, when work is boring, alienating, and dehumanizing, the only option becomes the urge to consume — to buy happiness off the shelf, a phenomenon we now know cannot suffice in the long term.”
Way back in 2000 when Ben & Jerry’s (B&J) was acquired by Unilever, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield had the presence of mind to require that the acquisition agreement itself include language that would ensure the preservation and growth of the company’s sustainability and social mission programs. To that end, the acquisition agreement also included language that required the development of a set of supporting metrics. After many years of experimenting with alternative approaches, Rob Michalak, Global Director of Social Mission at B&J, believes they may have finally found what they’re looking for: the MultiCapital Scorecard™ (MCS).
PRé Sustainability has gathered industry leaders from L’Oréal, Marks & Spencer, Steelcase, BASF, BMW Group, DSM, Goodyear, Philips, AkzoNobel, Corbion, Ahold and Reckitt Benckiser for the Roundtable for Social Metrics, which has developed pioneering principles and metrics for social impact assessment. We spoke to Charles Duclaux, Head of Corporate Responsibility Reporting and Environmental Innovation at L'Oréal, about the Roundtable's new Handbook and L'Oréal's sustainability efforts at large.What can you tell us about L’Oréal’s sustainability strategy?
Recent significant advances in both sustainability assessment and societal awareness have resulted in businesses placing growing importance on full product value chain transparency. This relates to the need to investigate social impacts throughout products’ values chains and make them visible. Understanding and addressing social impacts has become an increasingly important value driver for frontrunner companies in the sustainability arena.
In order to better help its customers align environmental and societal considerations with business success, BASF has developed a new process for steering its portfolio based on sustainability criteria. Launched today, the Sustainable Solution Steering method is used to systematically review and evaluate the sustainability aspects of the approximately 50,000 relevant product applications in the company’s portfolio, which represent sales of €56 billion. The benefit: This externally validated process makes it possible to measure the products’ contribution to sustainability within their various markets and industries and to increase this contribution through targeted steps.
Offsetting one ton of carbon dioxide brings an additional $664 in benefits to the communities where carbon reduction projects are based, according to new research by Imperial College London and the International Carbon Reduction and Offsetting Alliance (ICROA).Unlocking The Hidden Value of Carbon Offsetting shows how purchasing carbon credits creates economic development opportunities, aids environmental conservation, and helps improve people’s lives by delivering household savings, health benefits and improving water resources, among other social benefits.
WegoWise, a building intelligence provider, has launched a new rating for apartment building energy efficiency performance.WegoScore is a simple numerical assessment that provides a clear snapshot of a building’s utility usage, enabling property owners to prioritize retrofits, better manage their portfolios and communicate building efficiency to tenants. The rating condenses numerous complex measurements of building performance into one number. It is a tool for the real estate industry to communicate efficiency efforts among owners, managers and occupants. It also can highlight superior asset management practices to the financial markets.
I’ve always been fascinated with social behavior. Why do people react differently when confronted with a certain situation, a new idea, or information that challenges existing beliefs? Why are some resistant to change, while others are inspired by future possibility? And why do some people just not care about tomorrow because they are focused on what needs to get done today? With all this difference between us, how do we come together and collectively act to solve the world’s biggest problems while still living a happy, fulfilling life?
Is the investor community of the world’s most advanced economies informed, engaged and excited enough to make significant progress on building sustainable investment portfolios? How likely is that and how could it be done?The answers remain largely unclear, if not leaning more toward a “no” than anything else. At the same time, some forward-looking leaders in financial services are taking specific practical steps in their pursuit of tangible solutions that could be implemented immediately. Consider the case of Itaú Asset Management[i] (IAM).
A group of companies united in the Roundtable for Product Social Metrics today announces the publication of the Handbook for Product Social Impact Assessment, a practical tool for assessing a product’s social impacts throughout its life cycle. The handbook is the result of a unique collaborative effort of a group of market leaders across a variety of industries.
Why, after over a decade of progress, are customers, shareholders and employees still skeptical about corporate sustainability programs? Here are seven reasons why brands need to begin building natural asset portfolios in order to change this:#1 Everyone already knows about your corporate footprint
Average carbon-dioxide emissions for a majority of global ocean container transports have declined year on year, and by nearly 8 percent between 2012 and 2013, according to a new report by BSR.The BSR Clean Cargo Working Group’s 2014 Global Maritime Trade Lane Emissions Factors report provides data from more than 2,900 ships, representing around 85 percent of global ocean container capacity, and is designed to help global ocean transport providers and their shipping customers to measure, evaluate, and report on environmental performance data.
Towards ‘climate-stabilizing’ corporate carbon-reduction targetsAlthough setting corporate carbon-reduction targets is nowadays commonplace, many targets are grounded in ‘guestimates’ of what seems reasonably achievable or at least looks reasonable for external purposes and are often short-term in nature. Some mask an actual increase of absolute emissions as a result of growth and/or are set as intensity targets linked to sales, revenue, production or number of employees, but bearing no direct linkage to the actual reductions that would be required according to scientific bodies such as the IPCC.
In part one, Mark McElroy examined three types of integrated report structures, as identified by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), along with their limitations. Here, he explores a new methodology that puts stakeholder primacy front and center in integrated reporting.Shareholder Primacy