Lessons learned from the first year of conflict-minerals reporting
Culmination of efforts at the COMMIT!Forum
By Mike Wallace
On October 8 -9 BrownFlynn will be participating in the 4th COMMIT!Forum. As a longtime partner of the Corporate Responsibility Association and the COMMIT!Forum, and as an active provider of professional development and sustainability content, we’re especially excited about this year’s event. Our field is evolving radically, and content this year will reflect this rapid pace of change. Along these lines, CRA’s own efforts to facilitate and enhance the field will come through in several key areas.
First off, CRA’s organizational efforts to facilitate and organize members around high-priority topics has accelerated over the last year. Committees that were originally established in 2007 are expanding and gaining significant membership and momentum. New committees are being formed and relevant and timely content is quickly being brought to the stage this year in New York.
Management consultant Jib Ellison of Blu Skye on collaboration versus competition, the tragedy of the commons, and why CSR is’t just a bunch of lefty talking points.
By Natalie Allen
In a recent survey of 1,000 CEOs of large companies in 27 industries across 103 countries, only 32 percent believed that the global economy was on track to meet the sustainability needs created by a growing population and rising environmental and resource constraints. That’s according to the 2013 UN Global Impact Study on Sustainability.
Why aren’t more corporations taking the lead? What’s standing in the way?
CR Magazine spoke with Blu Skye Chief Jib Ellison. His team of strategists advises Fortune 500 companies on sustainability with the goal to make sustainability strategy the strategy of business. Ellison has also been a river guide leading whitewater expeditions on five continents.
Green Bonds can benefit society — and investor portfolios
By R. Paul Herman and Srdana Pokrajac
CFOs and corporate executives courting those investors who are prioritizing sustainability in their portfolios now have a new type of financing to consider: Green Bonds. These new financial instruments seek both ecological and economic benefits.
In November 2013, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) issued a three-year, fixed-rate $500 million Green Bond as part of the bank’s 10-year, $50 billion environmental business initiative whose proceeds will target alleviation of climate change, accelerate the shift to alternative energy resources, and spur energy-efficient economic solutions.
Showing the financial industry is getting serious, 13 major global investment banks committed to the Green Bonds Principles (GBP), a set of voluntary guidelines designed to assess issuances of Green Bonds for multiple types of investors: development banks, multilateral institutions, investment banks, and corporations.
Training brains to break the “sustainability barrier.”
By John Elkington
“I think we have a language problem,” warned Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute. “Our biggest mistake in outlining the sustainability agenda was to focus it on future generations. It’s not going to be the next generation that has the problem—it’s going to be us.” As the Rio+20 sustainability summit demonstrated the bankruptcy of current global governance processes, and drought and fires devastated corn crops in the United States, those words should have been written (or projected) on the walls of every chamber and committee room in Washington, D.C., and in all other capital cities.
But how can we keep these new priorities in political and business leaders’ minds once the immediate threats seem to have receded? One outside possibility would be to use modern variants of what Asians call koans, seemingly nonsensical or paradoxical questions, statements, or stories used to shock listeners into a higher form of consciousness.
How investors will help drive the next stage of the responsibility revolution.
By Peter A. Soyka
Investors are an emerging force in driving more sustainable corporate business practices, and they are interested in more than just effective risk management and ethical behavior, which they increasingly view as a given or as the bare minimum for acceptable performance. The more sophisticated are actively assessing financial value-creation potential and considering all of the key determinants of corporate value: revenues, costs/earnings, risks/liabilities, and capital costs. Several key areas of interest are readily identifiable and offer appropriate areas of focus for company managers and corporate responsibility (CR)/sustainability practitioners.
It is worthwhile highlighting some major categories of environmental (including health and safety), social, and governance (ES&G) issues that are of interest to investors and that have relatively clear connections to business outcomes that can affect corporate financial and investment performance in a material way.
Authentic sustainability can only be achieved through genuine commitment to process, not PR.
By James Hamilton
At a recent sustainability reporting conference, I was struck by a sense of déjà vu, realizing I have already seen many bright people writing big reports full of impressive charts and graphs. My frame of reference dates back to the early 1990s, when the regulatory environmental compliance movement was ramping up as the driver for reporting was compliance.
My concern is that corporations accustomed to compliance reporting might view sustainability reporting as just another exercise in data production and dissemination. However, meaningful sustainability reporting is a far cry from the compliance mill. A well-written sustainability report has a soul and is the product of a deeply-rooted program that reflects a company’s values and aspirations, progress and pitfalls.
A survey of 50 stars in the firmament of sustainability and innovation.
By John Elkington, Charmian Love, and Alastair Morton
An old order is coming apart, a new one— for better or worse—self-assembling. Volans spotlighted this trend in 2009 in the report, The Phoenix Economy. It was noted in that report that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste, but as Volans and JWT drafted The Future Quotient (FQ) it was clear that the opportunity had largely been squandered.In 2011: the Japanese tsunami and Fukushima meltdowns sideswipe the global nuclear industry and mainstream low-carbon energy plans; America’s debt rating was downgraded; Greece has teetered on the edge of default, with European political leaders scrambling to shore up other countries, indeed the entire Euro system. The United Kingdom has seen astonishing levels of violence in London and elsewhere. Even normally peaceful Norway has been shaken to the core by an outbreak of anti-Islamicism that left scores of people dead.
New Global Action Network to train multinationals’ suppliers in reporting
By Dennis Schaal
In a push for transparency and accountability, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) launched a new network to promote sustainability in multinational corporations’ supply chains.
The GRI Global Action Network for Transparency in the Supply Chain aims to enroll multinational firms in an effort to entice their suppliers to use the GRI G3 Guidelines to disclose publicly their sustainability track record and challenges.
To join the Amsterdam-based network, corporations pay a membership fee of 10,000 euros (about $15,650), and then nominate 5-10 of their suppliers, who receive 16 hours’ GRI-certified training.
The network’s goal is to have the nominated suppliers issue reports using the GRI guidelines.
CROs should help companies 'prune, plant and preserve'
By Chris Park
Some Corporate Responsibility Officers (CROs) have a big problem. In the best of times, many are treated as spin doctors with little authority to make strategic change within their organizations. And now that the economy has headed south, corporate responsibility and sustainability (CR&S) can appear more marginal than ever. After all, who needs to worry about social issues or the environment when the company’s immediate problem is to protect earnings, cut costs and hit the numbers?
Who else but you! We don’t buy the idea that CR&S--and, by extension, the CRO--has no place at a company trying to perform in a tough economy.
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