Today, when we talk about "sustainability" and "green", we have the impression that we are dealing with words that have become fashionable as nouns or adjectives that must be included in a press release or on a website to keep up to date with the environmental issues of recent years.
But fortunately "sustainability" is much more than just a fad.
Sustainability is everything that relates in a balanced way towards the environment and the person, not altering but improving their state of well-being and health. It is inherent in this term the concept of balance that should be found in every area in which man lives and works.
Sustainability today, if applied consciously and correctly, would allow having a healthier planet Earth in respect of renewable resources and improvement of the problems generated by climate change, thus managing to recover the entire ecosystem.
For this reason, every person and every company should take responsibility for actively contributing to its impact on the environment and today, companies, in particular, are mainly in the spotlight from this point of view.
Until not so long ago, the problem companies had was to consider sustainability as a non-financial risk in which it was not convenient to invest because it was not found to be profitable for the company's profits.
Nowadays, however, sustainability has primarily become part of the financial world. For this reason, many companies have started to invest resources to communicate with others all the efforts in terms of sustainability and the results achieved in a green perspective.
This has been possible, thanks to the birth of the sustainability report that every company is required to produce every year. Not only is it useful as an indicator of what the company is doing to work sustainably, but it also generates real benefits both internally and externally that directly affect their financial statements.
The ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) exists to indicate all activities related to sustainable and responsible investment in the economic/financial field. The ESG takes into account environmental, social and governance aspects and consists of essential criteria to judge the sustainability of a company's investments.
To go deeper into this topic, we have summarized the five most essential ESG frameworks to understand their origin, who is involved in this new type of reporting, and what their aims are.
The GRI is the Global Reporting Initiative, a non-profit organization that was created as a tool for reporting the sustainable performance of any organization with no size, category or country limits in the world. It was founded in 1997 in Boston by Robert Massie, the executive director of the Coalition For Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) and Allen White, CEO of Tellus Institute.
The aim was to develop an accounting system for environmental reporting according to the principles of socially responsible conduct. Initially born as a GRI project department that had as its target audience only investors, it then became a real executive committee for the development of the Guidelines, thus becoming an entity with a multidimensional approach thanks to the extension of the scope of reporting also to the social, economic and environmental dimensions.
The CDP is the Carbon Disclosure Project, an international non-profit organization that provides governments, investors, businesses and global authorities with a universal system of environmental reporting and measurement. It was founded in 2000 by Paul Dickinson, and its initial idea was that if companies considered risk management and environmental reporting as the central and fundamental part of their responsibility, capital markets would be transformed in favour of the environment.
To measure, manage and share all climate change information internationally, four programs supported by CDP were established: Climate Change Program, Water Program, Forests Program and Supply Chain Program and the Cities, States and Regions Program.
The CDP currently supports 525 institutional investors with $96 trillion in assets and continues to provide incentives for all companies to decrease and eliminate their negative impact on the environment.
The SASB is the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, a non-profit organization founded in 2011 by Jean Rogers. This Accounting Standards Board sets the standards for financial reporting for the development of sustainability. In particular, it aims to facilitate comparison and benchmarking in sustainability reports. To provide a useful tool, it has developed the SICS ®, namely the Sustainable Industry Classification System applicable to eleven sectors and 77 types of industries. The SICS groups companies in different factors differentiated according to the risks and opportunities for sustainability shared.
Also, SASB has created an advisory service for investors (IAG) as they have a crucial role in improving the effectiveness of sharing information produced by companies that disclose performance on ESG factors, thus being able to participate in the development of useful, qualitatively functional and comparable information standards.
The TCFD is the task force on climate-related financial disclosures. It was established in 2015 following the G20. It was founded at the end of that year by the Financial Stability Board (FSB), which is the body that promotes and monitors the stability of the global financial system.
Michael R. Bloomberg was electro president and was composed of 32 experts from the financial and manufacturing sectors. The objective of this task force is to develop all relevant recommendations on climate change risk reporting. In this way, it is intended to be a guide for companies to align the information disclosed with the needs of investors.
In 2017, the TCFD published a Final Report with four areas such as governance, strategy, risk management, metrics and targets and 11 recommendations that were endorsed by some 240 organizations from around the world.
The WDI is the Workforce Disclosure Initiative, an initiative born from the need to help institutional investors to access all the important data on the management of the work carried out by company personnel.
It was created at the end of 2016 by the British non-profit responsible investment association called ShareAction. Its operation is based on the logic of the CDP model, but WDI collects data from companies both on how they manage their direct employees and on all the people working in their entire supply chain.