The key to knowing the difference between varying associated sustainability acronyms is in understanding what they mean and the impact to your business, your people as well as the environment.

At Sustain Quality we value ensuring all of our clients have the knowledge they need made available in an informative way to place you in the best position to make the decisions that are right for your organisation and for the environment too.

Investing in strategies for business growth whilst equally measuring the environmental and societal impact is not only responsible but it’s also in making sustainable and sustained choices through appropriate methods and standards to positively influence outcomes and returns.

What Are ESGs, SRIs and An Example of an SRI?

An ESG stands for Economic, Social, Governance and measures the behaviours of those objectives, whereas SRIs, which stands for Socially Responsible Investing is an innovative yet careful method that incorporates a set of strategic values such as; social investment, sustainably conscious or ethical investing that seeks to analyse both the financial and social/environmental positive return based upon a criterion –taking into account the social responsibility of said organisation, individuals and global leaders.

Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) is a social investment that seeks return beyond financial gains and wanting to achieve goals based upon sustainable, responsible and impactful accomplishments. This can look at societal, social and equitable investments that utilise a set of principles that are continually implemented and sought when making or considering an investment.

For instance, an example might be for a company looking at renewable energy sources to be deemed as socially responsible which means they will look to carefully place their investment within a company or project responsibly, ruling out any options that produce greenhouse gases, oils or even activities that create or utilise fossil fuels.

Looking at a project and a company’s motivations along with confirmation of environmental accreditations can be measured through scoring and recognised standard systems that certify to prove requirements have been met.

Introducing Science Based Targets (SBTi)

The Corporate Net-Zero Standard of SBTi, is a world-first framework for setting net-zero corporate targets that align with climate science which includes guidance, criteria and recommendations for organisations and businesses to limit global temperature rises above 1.5 degrees.

The requirement of such targets for companies is based on emissions through direct action that sits within their own value chains or boundaries. Additional finance emission reductions beyond their science-based target can be considered as an option.

Companies are required to reduce emissions by 90% to reach net-zero under the Net-Zero Standard which can be achieved when long-term science-based targets are met. Targets are considered science-based if they fall in line with the Paris Agreement goals that adhere to the latest climate science classification.

A key contributing factor to reducing greenhouse gas emissions is onboarding private sector sustainability management targets into businesses and accurately tracking its progress through annual reporting.

Learning About GRI Reporting & Standards (Global Reporting Initiative)

The GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) develop standards used by organisations across the globe to benefit, economic, environmental and social benefits as a means to report information about themselves and their impacts, using a set of requirements and recommendations.

Described as a catalyst for a sustainable world, the GRI is used by over 10,000 organisations in over 100 countries with its headquarters based in Amsterdam. The premise of the initiative is as an independent, international organisation they support businesses and other bodies, or organisations to take responsibility for their impacts with standardised language that is used to convey the impact — pushing for the advancement of sustainable reporting and actionable benefits for the greater good of our world and everything within it.

With 7 regional offices, GRI is one of the most used and renowned of standards, using its locations to strategically assist all organisations ranging in size to report on their impact in a comparable and credible way.

Designed to deliver an inclusive picture with a modular set of interconnected standards that aim to offer a rounded viewpoint of transparency to stakeholders and investors, looking at the management and impact each organisation has using: The Universal Standards (applicable to all organisations but in specific sectors) , The Sector Standards (applicable to specific sectors) and The Topic Standards (specific to particular topics and disclosures relevant to that topic).

The Standards aim to outline what topics are relevant and how to report on them which includes an organisations contribution of both positive and negatives leading towards sustainable development.

The outcomes of the reports can be used to develop sustainable strategies and to assess organisational policies and even to guide decision making, assess financial risk and to plan for long-term success.

Sustainability Reporting Through GRI

Despite sustainability reporting not being mandatory, it is essential for building trust, attracting investors, and making measurable progress towards the goals of your organisation.

There are many standards to help guide business in sustainable reporting, one of which being the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). GRI exists to help organizations be transparent and take responsibility for their impacts so that we can create a sustainable future. GRI creates the global common language for organizations to report their impacts – which enables informed dialogue and decision making around those impacts.

By using the GRI Standards you can ensure that your sustainability reports, and net zero reports, are transparent and hold a high standard in comparison to your competitors.

Impactful Investing for Business and the Environment Sustain Quality

The Role of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) & The UN

The United Nations (UN)  set and utilise SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) as a call to action framework for all member countries to promote prosperity whilst also protecting the planet: Tackling climate change, ending poverty to promote growth, addressing social needs and environmental protection.

Adopted by all United Nations States in 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a shared partnership blueprint of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) between developed and developing countries – recognising that the elimination of poverty and other depravations directly correlates with improvement strategies of health & education, reducing inequality and boosting economic growth whilst all stakeholders must commit to preserve our forests and oceans alongside negating the negative impact of climate change.

The EU Directive for Non-Financial Reporting (NFRD)

The NFRD is a treaty on the functioning of the EU and permits all member states to set environmental goals that exceed existing environmental protection requirements set by the EU.

The 2014/95/EU is part of a strategy for the EU to encourage Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and its directive requires companies to include non-financial statements within their annual reports — modernising & strengthening the rules concerning social and environmental information that companies have to report upon. Applying to public-interest companies above 500 employees constituting to around 6000 companies and groups within the EU which recommends the use of international standards such as UN Global Impact, OECD Guidelines, ISO 2600 or the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).

The directive looks at giving clarity and transparency along with accountability on social and environmental impact, anti-bribery and corruption issues, diversity along with respect for human rights. It seeks to measure, monitor and manage the performance of companies and their impact on society through reporting disclosures of non-financial information –resulting in adopted company policies that seek to mitigate risks identified and in assessing the outcomes of adopted policies.

The NFRD works towards the green transition under the European Green Deal which aims to achieve the 2050 Net-Zero Goals and climate neutrality objectives and was updated in 2020 with a revised strategy addition to strengthen its implementation — specifically targeting the comparability, reliability and relevance of the non-financial information provided.

Additional Standards: EU Taxonomy and the PPN-O621 Carbon Reduction Plan

Eu Taxonomy Regulation

The EU Taxonomy is a classification system which establishes a list of environmentally sustainable economic activities. Applying to companies which are subject to non-financial reporting where organisations will have to disclose the activities they carry out and to what extent they meet the criteria.

Developed to scale sustainable investments and to combat ‘greenwashing’ of ‘sustainable’ financial products, the regulation sets to define what is considered and qualifies as sustainable and as such the EU has created a green classification system.

The system states, that companies with over 500 employees (likely to expand to all large companies from 2026), have to make considerable contributions towards a minimum of one of the EU’s climate and environmental objectives that meet 3 performance thresholds set by the EU:

1) To contribute to 1 of 6 environmental objectives

2) To do no significant harm to any of the 5 environmental objectives

3) And to ensure social compliance meets minimum social safeguarding.

As an essential part of the European Green Deal the EU Taxonomy is a part of the system of rules and guidelines set to accelerate the green transition working towards carbon neutral by 2050.

For businesses, it’s an opportunity to look at sustainable models that demonstrate performance and progression to enable financial markets the capacity to make informed investment decisions.

The PPN-0621 Carbon Reduction Plan

Announced in June 2021, The Carbon Reduction Plan determines the carbon emissions both indirect and direct for all UK operations for your base year, where you can then establish net-zero targets, that work to focus your activities towards your climate goals in support of the UK Governments 2050 Net-Zero Goals.

The Public Procurement Notice 06/21 (PPN06/21) stipulates all organisations and companies who apply for central government contracts and UK public contracts over £5 million or more, will need to be able to demonstrate their alignment with the 2050 Net-Zero Goals and to measure their carbon footprint.

The overall aim of the notice is to deliver the decarbonisation of the public sector in alignment with government goals and for high value contract operations to demonstrate the inclusion of sustainability within their activities by measuring Scope 1, 2 and 3 (partial) carbon emissions through reporting standards, targeted & progressive reductions and to include projected and achieved reductions.

At Sustain Quality we work with compliance and sustainability methods, standards and framework systems to help businesses, organisations and bodies to reduce their negative environmental and societal impact and use recognised schemes, programmes and accreditations to provide the best projected and achieved outcomes for our clients.