Category Archives: English

Be part of the growing CSR reporting trend!


Background story: The majority of our blog posts deals with CSR topics; we write about the latest developments in this field and try to relate it to a company’s daily business. Our background stories have a different perspective: Here, we explain trends, scientific background and societal implications of corporate sustainability – sometimes with a personal touch.

success-1093889_1920

You already have heard this acronym at work, and even came across a CSR report, and you will hear even more. Indeed, CSR reporting is growing.

CSR reporting is a communication tool on dedicated topics.

You may wonder: what is CSR reporting? There are different scientific and accepted definitions. Our definition is: any documentation related to the company’s management and performance regarding social and environmental topics that is disclosed publicly, and which aims at informing the stakeholders of how the companies manage the impacts towards them.

A stakeholder is said to be any party affected by the organization’s operations: shareholders, customers, suppliers, employees, local communities, civil society, industry, government… CSR reporting is then a tool to communicate the organization’s efforts to the impacted stakeholders.

We identified some of the main CSR reporting schemes

To bring more value to your reporting, you can use reporting standards and schemes. Although there are many CSR schemes, standards, ratings, we chose to focus on the ones which are leading in terms of influence and companies participating and which are not-for-profit organizations. The following list is then not exhaustive.

Regarding environmental reporting, you can choose to answer the CDP questionnaire, on water, climate change, or forest management. CDP[1] (Carbon Disclosure Project) is an NGOs collecting environmental data to ensure transparency to decision-makers like investors or clients.

To structure your CSR report, you can opt for two options: use the framework suggested by the United Global Compact, or use the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) Guidelines.

When you adhere to the UNGC 10 principles[2], you have then to report your progress on a Communication On Progress. This can be a good idea for beginners, as this communication offers a structure which is not too much stringent.

Read our article for a full overview: https://blog.dfge.de/2015/01/29/un-global-compact-dfge-publishes-2015-cop-report/

For more experienced reporters we will suggest to use GRI Guidelines[3], where companies can identify the topics which are the most relevant for them and their stakeholders, and then report specific indicators accordingly (see our blog article for more information: https://blog.dfge.de/2015/11/25/understand-gri-in-2-minutes/).

CSR reporting has grown steadily over the past fifteen years

Over the past decade, CSR reporting has become mainstream. The figures show that the use of internationally recognized standards and schemes is steadily growing. This can be explained by the fact that these initiatives are multi-stakeholder, hence they are more objective than a stand-alone reporting. They also provide guidance and structure which can help the company identify gaps to improve on some areas.

GRI trends

(data extracted from the search function of GRI database, http://database.globalreporting.org/search)

UNGC trends

(data extracted from UNGC infographic Communication on progress, 2015 key facts,https://www.unglobalcompact.org/docs/communication_on_progress/cop-key-facts-2015.pdf)

CDP, in its 2015 activity report, indicates that they analyzed 1799 responses in 2010 against 1997 in 2015, showing also a growing participation. The number of signatories has also been increasing.CDP trends

(data extracted from CDP Global Climate Change Report 2015, https://www.cdp.net/CDPResults/CDP-global-climate-change-report-2015.pdf )

It means that companies have an advantage to report through these schemes: they are of interest for investors, clients, and other stakeholders.

What are the next trends in CSR reporting?

We believe that reporting will increasingly focus on sectorial-specific issues. Indeed, now that the general framework is somehow set and recognized by organizations, some more specific information can be added.

For instance, the Telecommunications sector is faced with the problematic of conflict minerals. Electronics companies now report on how they implement due diligence process in their supply chain and declare if they are conflict-free for the following materials: gold, tin, tantalum, tungsten. A dedicated guidance is provided by the CFSI (Conflict Free Sourcing Initiatives).[4]

We also think that more and more SMEs will report their CSR progress – as bigger companies will increase their pressure on suppliers to take the next step and report along the whole supply chain.

DFGE can guide you through your reporting process. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information at info@dfge.de or consult our website.

 

[1]CDP: https://www.cdp.net/en-US/Pages/HomePage.aspx

[2] UNGC: https://www.unglobalcompact.org

[3] GRI: https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/g4/Pages/default.aspx

[4] CFSI: http://www.conflictfreesourcing.org/conflict-minerals-reporting-template/http://www.conflictfreesourcing.org/conflict-minerals-reporting-template/http://www.conflictfreesourcing.org/

image link: https://pixabay.com/en/success-curve-hand-finger-touch-1093889/

Advertisements

CDP Climate Change – revised questionnaire for 2016 and new scoring methodology


P1050417

The CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) has updated its methodology for the year 2016 regarding the CDP Climate Change questionnaire.

What is CDP?

Through CDP, around 6,000 organizations disclose their greenhouse gases emissions and other environmental KPIs, on the request of the shareholders or their clients. Through measurement, organizations are expected to better manage climate change mitigation.

What are the main changes?

  • Change in Climate Change scoring methodology. There will no longer be a disclosure score and a performance band, but one score, which will be located on a four-band scale: leadership (A), management (B), awareness (C), disclosure (D), like already introduced for the CDP water program in 2015. Answers to the CDP questions may be eligible to points in the four scoring categories disclosure, awareness, management, leadership. At least 75% of points must be scored on a certain scoring level in order to advance to the next higher lever.
  • Alignment with GHG protocol for Scope 2 emissions. Organizations now need to explain if the figures are market-based or location-based. Location-based means that the calculation is based on a figure reflecting the geographical electrical grid. For market-based, this figure reflects the emissions of the product, or the supplier. As figures need to be comparable, organizations need to select one of the option and convert the figures from the 2015 report or figures for the new 2016 report accordingly
  • Renewable energy. Organizations have now the possibility to report their renewable energy production and consumption, as well as any renewable energy targets.
  • Science-based targets. Company now need to specify whether their reduction target is science-based, meaning in alignment with climate science recommendations and scenarios, to keep global warming below 2°C.
  • Management fee: Companies from North America and Western Europe responding in the CDP Investor Program will be charged a management fee to contribute to the funding of the CDP project. The basic fee is set at 2.475 EUR, with the option to make a higher contribution, or to choose a subsidized, lower fee. First-time responders, as well as companies responding to their customers via the Supply Chain Program do not need to pay a fee.

For more information, please consult:

Changes & Rationale Document: https://www.cdp.net/Documents/Guidance/2016/CDP-Climate-Change-changes-document-2016.pdf

CDP 2016 Climate Change scoring methodology Introduction:  https://www.cdp.net/Documents/Guidance/2016/CDP-climate-change-scoring-methodology-2016.pdf

Scoring introduction 2016: https://www.cdp.net/Documents/Guidance/2016/Scoring-Introduction-2016.pdf

Accounting of scope 2 emissions: https://www.cdp.net/Documents/Guidance/2016/CDP-technical-note-Accounting-of-Scope-2-Emissions-2016.pdf

As a CDP official partner, the DFGE is happy to provide more details on these changes and help your organization adapt to them. With our in-depth CDP Response Review, you can make sure you cover all requirements from the new questionnaire and scoring methodology. Please contact us at info@dfge.de or +49.8192.99733-20

 

 

Freely chosen employment: a focus of EICC Code of Conduct latest version


Background story: The majority of our blog posts deals with CSR topics; we write about the latest developments in this field and try to relate it to a company’s daily business. Our background stories have a different perspective: Here, we explain trends, scientific background and societal implications of corporate sustainability – sometimes with a personal touch.

document-428334_1920

 

The EICC Code of Conduct – 5.1 version was released in January 2016 to include stringent requirements on the fight against forced and bonded labor.

A sectorial initiative to tackle CSR issues

The EICC is a nonprofit coalition of electronics companies comprised of more than 100 electronics companies with combined annual revenue of over $3 trillion, directly employing more than 5.5 million people. The companies are committed to supporting the rights and wellbeing of workers and communities worldwide affected by the global electronics supply chain.[1]

To do so, a Code of Conduct was set up, and the coalition provides training and assessment tools regarding environmental, social and ethical responsibilities.

The Code of Conduct was launched in 2004, and has been adapted and changed to match the evolution of these themes. The version 5.1 has been released on the 1st of January 2016 and will come into force from the 1st of April 2016.

Change in freely chosen employment section

The only change from version 5.0 released in November 2014 to the version 5.1 of January 2016 focuses on freely chosen employment (section A,1).

The version 5.0 states that “workers shall not be required to pay employers or agents recruitment fees or other aggregate fees in excess of one month’s salary. All fees charged to workers must be disclosed and fees in excess of one month’s salary must be returned to the worker.”, whereas the 2016 version reads that “workers shall not be required to pay employers’ or agents’ recruitment fees or other related fees for their employment. If any such fees are found to have been paid by workers, such fees shall be repaid to the worker.”

This means that the requirements are strengthening. Before, there was a limit which is no longer tolerated. Our understanding is that a common practice of forced labor is indeed that employees have to pay a fee to be employed, either to the employer or to a recruiting agent. However, they usually cannot afford it right away, so they remain in debt to the employer or recruiting agent, so they have to keep working in the company at least to be able to pay this employment fee.

This more stringent requirement can be explained in a larger context where forced labor is still existing. For instance, the NGO Verité’s two-year study of labor conditions in electronics manufacturing in Malaysia found that “one in three foreign workers surveyed in Malaysian electronics was in a condition of forced labor.”[2]

Tackling forced labor issues

There are different ways to tackle this existing issue:

  • Risk-mapping to identify where cases are most likely to happen
  • Action plans accordingly
  • Actions can feature:
    • Specific HR procedures preventing unreasonable restrictions on entering or existing the facilities, forbidding employment fees, prohibiting the confiscation of immigrant documents
    • Training of HR population in this sense
    • Whistle blowing system to detect and treat such cases
    • Audits to check the status of such actions

For more information, please contact us at info@dfge.de or read the EICC Code of conduct: http://www.eiccoalition.org/media/docs/EICCCodeofConduct5_1_English.pdf

[1] http://www.eiccoalition.org/about/

[2] http://www.verite.org/research/electronicsmalaysia

image source: https://pixabay.com/en/document-agreement-documents-sign-428334/

SDGs: a topic of interest for companies


 

IMGP3116

On the 17th of February, DFGE co-animated a webinar on Sustainable Development Goals with the World Environment Center. For those who missed it, we summarize the main conclusions of the webinar in this article.

The webinar featured sustainability experts.

Elisa Tonda (Head of Business and Industry Unit, UNEP), Lorraine Francourt (Director, EH&S & Sustainability, EMEA & AP, The Dow Chemical Company), Wolfgang Berger (VP Business Development, DFGE- Institute for Energy, Ecology and Economy) and Terry F. Yosie (President and CEO, World Environment Center) presented current trends on how companies are using the Sustainable Development Goals and on how companies can address them.

Main highlights from the webinar

(1) The SDGs are becoming important because they provide an internationally approved framework to address global challenges. Business has a vital interest in a world free from human suffering and environmental degradation and finds it essential that coordinated and measurable action takes place.

(2) Companies find value in using the SDG’s, e.g. because they help identify and meet societal expectations, especially in developing markets where the major growth opportunities lie.

(3) Companies such as Dow Chemical are already applying the SDGs. They have gone through intense stakeholder consultations (both internally and externally) and have now embedded their sustainability goal-setting-process into a structure that allows for measuring and reporting on the SDGs. Dow sets goals for each of the SDG’s but not for each indicator. Even less ambitious companies that address just a few goals would be coherent with the United Nation’s objective: every company should find its own way of contributing to the SDGs.

(4) Companies can align the SDGs with their business strategies and existing reporting frameworks such as Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), UN Global Compact, and CDP responses. While the SDGs may have similar content to the aforementioned, these pre-existing initiatives and frameworks are generally more focused in certain areas. The SDGs are, instead, a framework to report on a company’s contribution to solve global challenges and enable a strategic perspective for companies that actively want to identify business opportunities for the common good.

A worldwide topic

It seems that companies show a deep interest in this topic. Slightly more than 100 sustainability experts attended the webinar. 74% were business representatives, while 26% were from academia, advisory firms, governments, and NGO’s. Geographical distribution was 49% from Europe, 38% from the US, 8% from Latin America and 5% from Northern Africa/Middle East/Pacific.

For more information, please consult: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs or our blog article on how to address SDGs: Companies are key to the success of the Sustainable Development Goals. You can also directly consult us at info@dfge.de

High tide


Background story: The majority of our blog posts deals with CSR topics; we write about the latest developments in this field and try to relate it to a company’s daily business. Our background stories have a different perspective: Here, we explain trends, scientific background and societal implications of corporate sustainability – sometimes with a personal touch.

What do the cities of Hamburg (Germany) and Lagos (Nigeria) have in common? Not much, one might think. However, they share a property which makes them both vulnerable to climate change: they both lie at a height of only five meters above sea level – and the sea level rises every year.

How would it look like, a world with six-meter higher sea levels? You can now find it out yourself at http://flood.firetree.net/.

A natural phenomenon which has been increasing in the 20th century
Trends_in_global_average_absolute_sea_level,_1880-2013 croppedData from sediments, tide gauge records and satellites show that sea levels changed only little between 0 AD and 1900, but began rising in the 20th century[1]. Two main mechanisms have been identified to be responsible for this, both related to climate change:

  • Water expands along with temperature; as global temperatures are rising, the water body’s volume is expanding
  • Warmer temperatures initiate a thawing of the polar ice caps. The resulting melting water leads to higher sea levels

The average change rate was at about 1.7 mm per year in the last century, which amounts to a total difference of about 19 cm over the last 110 years. 19 cm – this is far from the five meters of Hamburg and Lagos, so no reason to worry? Well, far from it, unfortunately.

At the one hand, the increase rate is accelerating: between 1993 and 2010, it amounted already to 3.2 mm per year[2], which is a drastic increase compared to the values for the preceding century. Researchers from several universities just published a study stating that the 20th-century rise happened faster than any of the previous 27 centuries[3].

And secondly, we haven’t talked about tipping points yet.

Tipping points: when changes become rapid

Tipping points are maybe the biggest headache of climate scientists. This notion refers to a moment when the earth’s entire climatic system changes rapidly and irreversibly into a new state, triggered by a preceding constant change of an input variable (like the atmospheric CO2 level). Regarding sea level rise, such a tipping point might be reached once the Greenland ice sheet begins to thaw – research suggests that this could happen already with a global warming of about 1.6 degrees[4]. Greenland’s ice sheet is 3.000 meters thick; its melting would contribute to a total sea level rise of about 6 meters[5], with the well-known consequences not only for Hamburg or Lagos: About 10% of the world population live in low-lying areas, and 30% live in areas impacted by extreme flooding events. The majority of megacities is located in coastal areas[6].

On a human timescale, processes like the Greenland melting would still happen slowly, taking several thousand years. But if greenhouse gas emissions are not effectively limited, these processes are likely to accelerate. Due to a combination with increasingly frequent and severe rainstorms (also a consequence of climate change) huge investments into coastal protection will be necessary in the coming decades[7].

Thus, sea level rise does not just concern some lost islands somewhere in the ocean – it concerns the livelihoods of a substantial part of the world population. A worldwide and concerted action to mitigate climate change is crucial, if we want to ensure that our coastal areas can stay habitable for future generations. The UN Climate Conference in Paris 2015 has shown that a lot of governmental and private actors are willing to combat climate change – now the decisions made have to come into action.

DFGE can assist also your organization in quantifying your carbon emissions, and to establish a strategy to tackle them. Contact us at info@dfge.de or +49.8192.99733-20 for more information.

Sources:

[1] http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/sealevel.html

[2] http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg1/WG1AR5_Chapter03_FINAL.pdf

[3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/02/22/seas-are-now-rising-faster-than-they-have-in-2800-years-scientists-say/?postshare=421456172051268&tid=ss_tw

[4] https://www.pik-potsdam.de/news/press-releases/archive/2012/gronlands-eismassen-konnten-komplett-schmelzen-bei-1-6-grad-globaler-erwarmung

[5] https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/quickfacts/icesheets.html

[6] http://www.uni-kiel.de/pressemeldungen/?pmid=2015-085-klimawandel

[7] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/2010-to-2015-government-policy-flooding-and-coastal-change/2010-to-2015-government-policy-flooding-and-coastal-change

image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/65/Trends_in_global_average_absolute_sea_level%2C_1880-2013.png

EcoVadis and DFGE partnership: boosting sustainable procurement in the German-speaking region


ecovadis-logo01DFGE becomes the first Consulting Partner in the German-speaking region of EcoVadis, the leader in supply chain sustainability ratings. This partnership will help companies to better answer their clients’ requests for an EcoVadis assessment, as well as to improve CSR performance.

EcoVadis, a collaborative sustainability rating platform

EcoVadis operates the first collaborative platform providing Supplier Sustainability Ratings for global supply chains. More than 25,000 companies use EcoVadis’ Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) assessment, including thousands in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, which provides a rating and scorecard on their environmental, social/labor, and ethical practices.

EcoVadis provides a concrete solution enabling CSR transparency in the supply chain. Companies subscribe to EcoVadis and require their suppliers to be assessed by EcoVadis on their sustainability management. This analysis is carried out by EcoVadis experts and the results are then published on a collaborative platform, accessible by both buyers and suppliers, in the shape of a scorecard.

DFGE will offer various services

EcoVadis trusts DFGE in providing trainings and pre-checks of responses. Trainings are about EcoVadis principles, the questionnaire and platform management. They aim at empowering suppliers in completing the questionnaire and responding to clients’ requests. DFGE will also provide response checks to make sure that the answers are aligned with EcoVadis requirements and methodology. With more than 15 years of experience in sustainability data management and reporting, DFGE can help suppliers to find and improve the right documentation. DFGE also offers complete service packages that reduce company’s investment in time and resources and prepare all requested information to submit to EcoVadis.

On top of that, DFGE can also provide guidance to explain the results of the scorecard, conduct an improvement plan, consolidate the sustainability management system by providing dedicated documents such as the carbon footprint, a CSR report based on GRI guidelines, among other services.

As a consequence, EcoVadis users can benefit from guidance and dedicated feedback, in their own speaking language. DFGE has been trained by EcoVadis to provide the official products.

To read the full PR: http://www.dfge.de/en/ecovadis-partnership/

To learn more about EcoVadis: http://www.ecovadis.com/ or DFGE: http://www.dfge.de/en/

Or contact us at info@dfge.de for any question or information.

COP21: speeding up climate change actions


for blog

THE UNFCCC 21th Conference of Parties (COP21) was held in Paris from the 30th of November to the 12th of December, 2015. The 195 countries represented here reached an historical agreement to curb climate change.

The Paris agreement at a glance:

  • Objective to keep temperature rise below 2°C and try to limit it to 1.5°C
  • Five-year cycle of actions. 186 countries have published their action plans to reduce emissions.
  • Review mechanism every five years, with a first world review in 2023. This will help increase the transparency, countries will be required to report on their emissions.
  • Focus on climate change adaptation instead of mitigation, which means “adjusting systems in response to climate change, with changes in processes, practices, and structures to moderate potential damages or to benefit from opportunities associated with climate change,”(UNFCCC) while mitigation is about reducing GHG emissions.
  • Finance and burden-sharing. Developed countries are to provide financial resources to help resources countries, up to 100 billion dollars from 2020.
  • Loss and damage principle. The agreement acknowledges the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) on Loss and Damage, created in 2013 to deal with the cases when mitigation and adaptation fail.

 

What is next?

The agreement will be open to signature on next Earth day, the 22nd of April, 2016. To be enforced, at least 55 countries must ratify it, and they must represent at least 55% of the world’s emissions.

What can you do?

Every organization can take part in mitigating climate change and reducing emissions! A first step is to assess the carbon footprint to then reduce the identified emissions by implementing many simple actions at local level.

For more information: Paris agreement and a related infographic, UNFCCC, carbon footprint,  or contact us at info@dfge.de