New Metrics

The new and evolving metrics that are helping expand the way businesses create, quantify, manage and report their impacts, and the value they deliver.

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'Integral Thinking and True Materiality': An Introduction

If 2015 was the year that inspired new hope in sustainability with the publication of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the success of COP21, 2016 is the year the rubber needs to hit the road when it comes to implementation and impact. So rather than add to the end-of-year 10-best-of-this-and-that listing stampede, instead I’ve created a 6-piece series summarizing essential learnings from 2015 to focus priorities and actions for 2016.*Reflecting on 2015, my own work focused on front-end developments needed in three interlinked areas:

It's All Relative: The Fatal Flaw in Corporate Sustainability Ratings

Corporate sustainability ratings are of growing interest to business leaders, investors, and the general public. The annual releases of popular ratings such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World Index now attract widespread coverage. A key driver of this interest is the belief that these ratings schemes allow us to distinguish sustainable corporations from those that are not.

How the Insurance Industry Can Help Save Humanity

The industrial economy is geared towards maximization of wealth. This target has led towards substantial, even amazing, economic growth during the last two centuries. Yet, at the same time this growth has introduced new risks and has caused severe threats and actual damages to the environment and to the social framework.Some risks are environmental: Global climate change; loss of diversity that decreases resilience; damage to delicate food chains; and land, air and water pollution. Others are societal, such as employment security, growing inequality in income and wealth, pressures related to rapid urbanization, and demographic changes that threaten retirement system.

Industry-Led Roundtable for Product Social Metrics Expanding Into Multi-Stakeholder Group

The Roundtable for Product Social Metrics — a coalition of multinational consumer product companies aimed at developing a comprehensive, consistent methodology for businesses to measure the social impacts of products, launched in 2013 — announced Monday that it is now moving forward as a multi-stakeholder organization, opening its doors to interested companies, industry associations, NGOs, researchers and consultants to join the collaboration.

Sustainability Mythbusters: Is Reducing Product Energy Use Always the Best Solution?

It's easy to use 'common sense' and make assumptions in sustainability, but does that get you the results you want? As a science-based method, LCA is an excellent tool to bust the myths that surround sustainability. In this series, we look at some common sustainability ideas to see if they are myth or truth. In today’s episode: product energy use.

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Countries Ranked on Sustainable Competitiveness; US and UK Score Below China, Russia

Think tank and sustainable management consultancy SolAbility recently released its fourth Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index (GSCI), a ranking of 180 countries for “sustainable competitiveness,” defined as the ability to generate and sustain inclusive wealth and dignifying standard of life for all citizens in a globalised world of competing economies.Iceland topped the list for the second year running, followed by other Scandinavian nations. The only non-European countries in the top 20 are Japan (11), New Zealand (12), and Canada (16). The US ranked 41 and the UK ranked 48; China and Russia ranked above them at 25 and 33, respectively.

Automakers Beat GHG Standards for Third Year Running

Vehicle manufacturers have surpassed the more stringent 2014 standards for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the third consecutive year, while model year 2014 fuel economy remains steady at the highest level ever recorded, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).The findings were included in two reports the agency released last week: the annual report on fuel economy trends and a report on the auto industry’s progress toward meeting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for cars and light trucks.

Q&A: Why Wrangler Joined The Sustainability Consortium

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) announced earlier this week the addition of its newest member — denim brand Wrangler. Formed in 2009, TSC brings together major brands with academic researchers, NGOs and other stakeholders. The nonprofit works to establish science-based metrics and consensus on the most effective means to improve the environmental and social impacts of products in dozens of different industry sectors.

COP21: 114 Companies Commit to Set Science-Based Emissions-Reduction Targets, Surpassing Goal

The Science-Based Targets initiative announced Tuesday that 114 companies have now committed to set emissions-reduction targets in line with what scientists say is necessary to keep global warming below the dangerous threshold of 2 degrees Celsius. The announcement was made at the LPAA Business focus event hosted by Caring for Climate at COP21 in Paris.

Economists Say Climate Impacts Will Be Worse Than Previously Believed

Experts on the economics of climate change have revealed concerns that damages from climate change impacts will be larger and more immediate than previously estimated, according to a new survey from The Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law.The survey’s respondents were limited to those who have published an article about food production, climate adaptation, energy economics and other topics related to climate change in a highly ranked, peer-reviewed economics journal since 1994.

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SASB's FSA Credential: Who Will Benefit from It and Why

The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) recently launched the Fundamentals of Sustainability Accounting (FSA) Credential, the first of two exams that explore concepts on the materiality of sustainability information. The FSA is designed for a wide range of professionals who benefit from understanding the link between material sustainability information and a company’s financial performance, including financial and sustainability reporting teams, investors, consultants and securities lawyers.

While Celebrating Improvement in One Metric, Beware of Unintended Consequences: Part 18

In 17 earlier parts of this series, Claire Sommer, Jill Lipoti and I developed 34 pitfalls in the sustainable business metrics field, based on the experiences of many mostly non-business fields. (Find them here.)

Caterpillar, TNC, JPMorgan Chase Convene to Discuss Natural Infrastructure Restoration

Construction machinery and equipment giant Caterpillar recently hosted the first major national summit on infrastructure restoration, with the clarion call that investing in nature is smart business. As a major player in the manufacturing industry, Caterpillar reached the conclusion that moving beyond technical principles and establishing a broad coalition of stakeholders is required to bring the restoration conversation mainstream.

Report: Rising Sea Levels Could Make Half a Billion Homeless

Between 470 to 760 million people could lose their homes to rising sea levels if carbon emissions meet or exceed 4°C of warming — the direction in which business-as-usual is heading — with unstoppable rises to occur over centuries, according to a new report and searchable interactive maps published by Climate Central.

Report: Higher CO2 Levels Directly Affect Human Cognition

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have found that carbon dioxide (CO2) has a direct and negative impact on human cognition and decision-making, according to a new study, as reported by ThinkProgress.These impacts have been observed at carbon dioxide levels that most Americans are routinely exposed to today inside classrooms, offices, homes, planes and cars.

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Microsoft’s Manufacturing Operations Achieve Carbon Neutrality

Microsoft has, as of July 1, 2015, achieved carbon neutrality across its manufacturing operations, according to the company’s 2015 Citizenship Report.The software company’s data centers, software development labs, offices and business air travel have been carbon neutral since July 2012.Microsoft was able to achieve carbon neutrality across its global operations due to its internal carbon fee. The program puts a price on carbon and makes the company’s business divisions responsible for the cost of reducing and compensating for the carbon emissions associated with their electricity use and air travel.

Measure Twice, Cut Once: 5 Key Takeaways from the Closing Plenaries at #NewMetrics '15

Sustainability has long been seen as a soft issue — or at least too complex an issue to apply metrics. That is yesterday’s thinking as reaffirmed by all the speakers this week at New Metrics ’15. On the final day, in the second round of plenaries, Biogen, Johnson & Johnson, SASB and TruValue Labs shared their experience and learnings from establishing metrics and setting standards within their respective industries and a few common themes came to the fore.

#NewMetrics '15: Everything You Need to Succeed at Sustainability Investing, Impact Reporting

The final morning’s plenaries at New Metrics ‘15 started with a warm welcome and call from MC Paul Herman of HIP Investor to be energized and ready to focus in on sustainability investing.Herman started with a reminder that 84 percent of the market value of the S&P is intangible and completely missing from the balance sheet. Connecting returns to business efforts around sustainability efforts and performance is a door to finding this value. These absent “knowable but ignored factors” include people as an asset, natural resource efficiency; governance, board diversity and inclusion; and transparency.

UN SDGs Prompting Business Collaboration for a Better World

Back in the ballroom for the last afternoon of Sustainable Brands’ New Metrics ’15, SustainAbility’s research director Chris Guenther hosted a discussion on the new UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), what they mean for brands, and how they can respond to the risks and opportunities. He was joined by Alyson Genovese, US and Canada head of corporate and stakeholder relations for Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and Lindsay Bass, manager of corporate water stewardship for World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

#NewMetrics '15 Panel Dissects Evolving Green Bond Market

The green bond market is growing exponentially, having seen $36 billion issued in 2015 from only $11billion issued in 2013. It remains a fledgling market, yet with continued investor demand and issuers embracing a ‘new green market,’ the future looks bright – according to a panel on the final afternoon at New Metrics ’15.

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