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isosteam, Author at CSR Consulting, GRI Sustainability Reporting, External Assurance, GRI, CDP, GRESB - Page 2 of 20

News on GRI Sustainability Reporting, Verification & Assurance, CDP Reporting

10 Aug


External Verification sustainability reporting

August 10, 2016 | By |

UPCOMING WEBINAR: Sept 22, 2016 / 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm (CT)

External Verification sustainability reporting / Big Data vs Quality Data

There is a growing trend in sustainability reporting that looks to take advantage of the external verification process. Whether reporting to CDP, GRESB, GRI, DJSI, Integrated ReportingSASB or global retailers via The Sustainability Consortium , organizations find that external assurance provides both internal and external benefits. Some of these benefits include opportunities for:

– Building organizational credibility
– Improving stakeholder trust
– Reflecting the seriousness in which the organization approaches the sustainability reporting process
– Increasing the probability of securing special project funding
– Positively influencing rating agencies and other analyst rating decisions
– Providing more reliability, accuracy and value to the entire reporting process
– Engaging higher management, Boards and employees in the reduction of sustainability-related risks
– Improving internal management systems and data quality
– Strengthening overall stakeholder communication

To work most effectively, the Assurance process should be considered as an essential component of the reporting process. That way, when crafting an annual CSR report or Questionnaire, organizations will ensure they: address the proper boundary, collect the right data, aggregate information using reliable methods, properly track supporting documentation, and rely on software solutions that are up to date with the latest industry standards, among other things.

A variety of groups including sustainability service consultancies, accountancy and engineering firms provide external assurance of non-financial reporting. When choosing the provider that is best for you, be sure the group is independent from your organization, objective, experienced in assurance practices, and knowledgeable about the subject matter presented in your report. Because there are several assurance standards, be sure to pick a provider that uses a standard that meets your organization’s needs. The AA1000 Assurance Standard is one of the most consistently used, internationally recognized standard for guiding assurance practitioners.

BIG Data vs QUALITY Data

With the increased demand for non-financial disclosure, there is clear recognition from leading reporters of the added value of external assurance – The world is demanding BIG data, but first, we need QUALITY data.

ISOS Group is one of the leading sustainability consultant agencies in the country, which caters to organizations of all sizes and across a large variety of sectors. In addition to the AA1000’s CSAP status, the team’s approach is guided by collective capabilities rooted in the ISO14064, ISAE 3000, SA8000 and key principles rooted in sustainability disclosure.

ISOS Group will be leading a free webinar on September 22 from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm (CT) to guide organizations through the basics of the assurance process. Register now to hear from our experts about the assurance process, challenges and best practices.


18 May


Washington State Department of Ecology, a Nucleus for Sustainability Acceleration

May 18, 2016 | By |

Key Contributors: ISOS Group & Linda Glasier-Environmental Specialist at the Washington State Department of Ecology

May, 2016—The State of Washington has developed a worldwide reputation as a hub of innovation, technology, and forward-thinking industries. A key component of that forward-thinking for many Washington organizations is sustainability.

Not just environmental sustainability, but sustainability in the broader sense of understanding the impact an organization has, and preparing for the future.

One of the leaders of this movement has been the Washington Department of Ecology. That may seem ironic, both because government agencies are not traditionally viewed as innovators and a department charged with protecting the environment might not be expected to think about sustainability in that broader sense.

Washington State Department of Ecology, a Nucleus for Sustainability Acceleration

In 2012, however, Ecology became the first state agency in the country to issue a sustainability report meeting the international Global Reporting Initiative Guidelines – the same framework used by many major companies in Washington and elsewhere to validate their sustainability and corporate social responsibility reporting. Ecology has also worked with GRI and dozens of Washington businesses to incorporate this type of reporting into their strategic plans.

According to Linda Glasier, an environmental specialist who has led Ecology’s GRI reporting project, helping businesses, organizations and other local and state agencies adopt sustainability into their thinking helps connect the state.

“Ecology believes that having a common standard for tracking, demonstrating and communicating sustainability performance makes sense for our agency,” she said. “And establishing a common framework with other groups in our state can push us to communicate better and work toward common goals.”

The first state agency in the country to issue a GRI sustainability report

The GRI Guidelines are the world’s most-widely used reporting standard for non-financial measures. There are standardized questions, metrics and an underlying quality analysis and quality check process to spur robust reporting efforts for organizations of all types.

Sustainability reporting has been adopted by academic institutions, small mom and pop businesses, and corporate titans such as Boeing, Microsoft, Nintendo, Amazon Expedia, Weyerhaeuser, Starbucks and Costco.

“When companies really commit to sustainability planning and reporting as part of their strategic efforts,” Glasier said, “they go far beyond feel-good projects or altruism. They find opportunities to make their businesses more resilient, more efficient, and more profitable in a changing marketplace.”

For the Department of Ecology, measuring its own impacts on the environment and in the communities it serves obviously serves to ensure the agency walks its talk. But, with more than a thousand employees and offices across Washington, the Department faces many of the same challenges any business does, from commuting to succession planning to paying the water bill.

Washington is home to world-class organizations that are in the perfect position to be ambassadors of change. However, no one organization can go at it alone. Sustainability is a team sport, Glasier says, and we’re all on the same team.

Get a first hand look at the new GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards

We invite all Washington-based organizations interested in improving their bottom line to attend the upcoming ISOS Group-led GRI-G4 Certified Training in Tukwila, Wash., scheduled for June 8-9, 2016. The Washington Department of Ecology is hosting the training, with assistance from presenters from Alaska Airlines and Holland America.

Participants will hear first-hand how Ecology and other organizations have gone about aligning metrics to diverse stakeholder interests. Upon course completion, participants will receive globally recognized certificates from GRI.


09 May


Can natural capital drive progress for Africa

May 9, 2016 | By |

Can Natural Capital drive progress for Africa?

Lead Contributor: Shenan Boit

May, 2016—Africa is a continent of extreme natural resource wealth, yet it still faces umprecedented challenges compared to other regions in the world. This is most likely a result of poor governance, low tax revenue and lack of local inputs and investments. Additionally, development is stalled by poor infrastructure, technological delays, limited market access, gender inequality, corruption, war and conflict, food-insecurity and disease. With growing inequality, high unemployment and a rapidly growing population of educated youth who have little to no income opportunities, African leaders must begin to adopt measures to ratify their countries’ situations.

Dialogue and attempts toward creating economic and sustainable development in Africa are not new concepts. They have been occurring for decades with mixed results. With Africa’s plethora of human and natural resources, the region should be able to slingshot itself toward the forefront of the marketplace in a responsible and sustainable manner – if it can utilize and mange these resources properly. The real question is – how?

  • What are the right development concepts?
  • What are the appropriate monitoring tools?
  • Who are the right people to bring to the development table?
The Summit for Sustainability in Africa

In the first Summit for Sustainability in Africa held in 2012, ten African countries met in order to determine how African nations and their investment partners understand, manage and value natural capital to support and improve human well-being. Natural capital is the natural assets that make human life possible, such as soil, air, water and animal life. The nations agreed that they were caught in a trend of resource exploitation that was not sustainable. They agreed that natural capital should be considered when reporting and developing practices, policies and programs.

The summit produced the Gaborone Declaration, “to ensure that the contributions of natural capital to sustainable economic growth, maintenance and improvement of social capital and human well-being are quantified and integrated into development and business practice.” At Rio +20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, these ten African nations united under the Gaborone Declaration and emerged as global leaders. By understanding and promoting natural capital for all its citizens the African region has started to find the right developmental concepts.

Transparency and Reporting in Africa

The next step is to effectively monitor and report on economic, environmental, social and governance practices that are successful or faltering. There has been global uptake in transparency and reporting. Citizens are demanding fairness and action. Political and corporate transparency is becoming the new normal. In this spirit, several African governments have begun publishing contracts online so as to not be left behind and. Nigeria is even making its budget public record.

Increasingly, large companies and organizations are creating transparency reports and making considerable strides to building local communities through skills transfer and investment. According to the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) Database in 2015 held a total of 5,454 organizations producing GRI-based sustainability reports. Of these, 296 were based in Africa. While that number does not seem large it accounts for almost 1,000% percent growth rate from 29 reports produced just ten years before in 2005.

Almost all of Africa’s GRI reports originate from one country, South Africa. As a handful of South African organizations began reporting they realized how financially beneficial sustainability has proven to be. They saw increased efficiency, preventative risk identification, improved stakeholder and shareholder reputation and engagement, in addition to the attraction and retention of high-caliber staff. As one organization benefited from sustainability reporting the organizations nearby began to take note and started following the trend. With a handful of reporters in Angola, Botswana, Cape Verde, Egypt, Kenya, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, we expect to see a domino effect – with many more organizations and nation states following suit.

As environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting becomes more commonplace ESG monitoring systems will improve. The general public will grow accustom to transparency and will demand it. And with more transparency and community engagement, sustainable economic growth will emerge and help develop the African region. It has already started happening.

Interested in learning more? Join ISOS Group at Sustainable Brands, May 14-17 in Cape Town South Africa! We’ll be delivering a 3 hour hands-on session on alignment toward reporting efficacy!