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

09 May

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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!

FIND OUT MORE ->

25 Apr

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Challenges and Benefits of Sustainability Reporting within the African context

April 25, 2016 | By |

Stimulating Progress: The Challenges & Benefits of Sustainability Reporting –
Write Up in Advance of Sustainable Brands South Africa

April, 2016—Studies suggest that non-financial reporting, otherwise known as sustainability reporting, “can build public trust, increase efficiency and mitigate risks, while also boosting stakeholder confidence, trust and loyalty.” But how can one document serve so many interests? The secret lies within the underlying systems that support non-financial reporting efforts.

Professionals in this blooming industry often refer to the practices undertaken in other countries to assess best practices. Aside from seasoned reporters, many have encountered a prolonged discovery phase where they are primarily focused on understanding the various concepts at hand, defining the sustainability vision for the company and determining what’s relevant.

Regardless of an organization’s reporting journey status, we’ve found the following challenges hinder organizations’ capacity to leverage the value that comes from sustainability reporting. By coming to terms with these universal challenges, reporters can transform barriers into leadership opportunities.

Challenges and Benefits of Sustainability Reporting
Challenge recommendation
Alignment
  • Couple proven frameworks and industry benchmarks with compliance measures.
  • Educate personnel on a sustainability management plan detailing reporting mechanisms, roles and cadence for quality controls will help reduce discrepancies.
———– ———–
Connectivity
  • Connect issues to demonstrate a holistic view of the factors that affect the organization’s ability to create value over time, including financials and the interrelatedness to material non-financial measures.
  • Strengthen the relationship between environmental matters and overall corporate strategy, performance and prospects, while providing context for how data is managed and what’s missing.
———– ———–
Purpose
  • Assess organizational objectives, priorities and how solid disclosure will advance sustainability across the organization and beyond.
  • Make non-financial reporting strategic by build on emerging best practices for assessing risks, pursuing opportunities and enabling prompt mitigation efforts.
  • Establish protocols to maintain momentum and leverage marketplace recognition.

Transparency gained through reporting has enabled groups like AngloGold Ashanti to both address community conflicts and promote the social and environmental legacy changes the company is enacting. For instance, the South African-based company has introduced a two pronged strategy for environmental mine management; the first being “do no harm” and the second “managing legacies, including historical pollution and its impacts.” Toward this goal, the Company has sought approval by Ghana’s EPA for its new water management plan, sought to improve its waste management sites in and around the community, and is moving forward with plans to rehabilitate and clean up abandoned mining sites. By recognizing inherent and potential risks, the Company has established more focus dialogue with key stakeholders and advanced mitigation efforts. The sustainability report is a tool employed to continue that dialogue and demonstrate performance per commitments made.

Though groups like AngloGold Ashanti have already begun to inform strategy through the wide lens of sustainability, full integration has yet to be mastered. According to published results of a survey conducted by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in April 2015 3 , the practice of integrated reporting in South Africa has stimulated integrated thinking, but there is still a huge learning curve. A deeper level of understanding an experiential learning is necessary to derive benefits in the short-, medium- and long-term.

Beginning to untangle the carefully woven webs of issues, relevance, influencers and responsibilities require a systematic approach to connecting performance measures to strategic long-term objectives…and it’s no easy task. Sustainability reporting has significantly evolved since it was first introduced to the world by a few innovators in the 1990’s, but it’s no longer enough to pursue incremental change. We need disruptive, structural and fully integrated in organizations globally. It’s this move that will transform our ability to meet larger international objectives, realize the benefits associated with strategic sustainability and ring in a brighter tomorrow.

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!

FIND OUT MORE ->

09 Mar

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The California Issues & Trends Program (CIT)

March 9, 2016 | By |

San Diego-based Sustainability Pioneer Recognized by California Women’s Leadership Program

March 9, 2016—Leadership California recently selected Nancy Mancilla, Co-Founder of ISOS Group as a member of the Class of 2016 for its 2016 California Issues & Trends Program (CIT). This is a prestigious, yearlong program for 60 women leaders from across the state of California, which kicked off a few days ago in the C.A. State Capitol.

The California Issues & Trends Program provides focused programming for women leaders, exposing them to critical public and private sector issues and enhancing their competitive knowledge on California from state, national and global perspectives. It connects women leaders from across the state with each other and with top decision-makers, thought leaders and practitioners. It promotes creativity and innovation through the sharing of ideas and best practices. The 1,500 Alumnae of the CIT are empowered to contribute more fully to California’s vision for the future and to the communities and companies in which they live and work.

Leadership California began in 1992 with a dream to inspire, inform, and advance women leaders who would influence California’s future. It provides a critical pathway for successful women who care about advancement, achievement, and significance. These women are not only talking about change, but plan to be part of making it happen. Alumnae serve on nonprofit boards and are knowledgeable appointees for State boards and commissions.

About ISOS Group

ISOS is a collaborative sustainability enterprise that helps drive value creation for the world’s most innovative brands. We evaluate where our clients are and plot a course for where they want to be, through responsible business practices that make a lasting contribution to the well-being of their stakeholders and the planet at large. ISOS specializes in Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), GRESB and CDP disclosures, external assurance of CSR reports, and verification of GHG emissions and climate change data. ISOS Group’s long time status as GRI Certified Training Partners and CDP Silver Consultancy and Education Partners in the U.S. positions the group as practice experts—shaping credible reporting efforts in line with the world’s leading sustainability standards.

About Nancy Mancilla– As ISOS Group’s Co-Founder, Nancy has played a key role in mobilizing non-financial disclosure in the United States. She’s orchestrated 70+ Certified Trainings, co-taught MBA programs, regularly serves as a conference guest speaker and caters to industry roundtables by providing knowledge of the reporting process. Further, she has conducted numerous sustainability assessments, provided reporting guidance and completed external assurance activities for many of the world’s best-known Fortune 500’s.

Prior to co-starting ISOS, Nancy assisted Winrock International in developing their sustainability services and led numerous micro-economic development projects related biodiversity, agronomics and renewable energy. She also developed an innovative technique to analyze the sustainability of Winrock’s hydroelectric projects in the Republic of Georgia as opposed to Russian energy sources. Previous positions included the Little Rock City Mayor’s Sustainability Commission, Arkansas Clean Cities Coalition and the Arkansas Biofuels Alliance. Nancy earned her B.A. in International Relations (IR) with a Minor in Environmental Studies from the U.S. International University in San Diego, California. She also holds a M.A. in IR from the University of Amsterdam, as well as an inaugural M.P.S. (Public Service) from the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, Arkansas where she dedicated her work to issues of sustainability.

Her work has earned her a position in the 2016 Leadership California cohort, the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern California Sustainable Business Council and finalist status in the 2014 San Diego Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business Award.

For additional details about this year’s Leadership California cohort, click here  or contact the organization directly at: info@leadershipcalifornia.org

For additional details concerning Nancy Mancilla and/or ISOS Group activities, please submit inquiries to: info@isosgroup.com.