An Attendee’s Experience and Review of G&A Institute’s / Global Change Associates’ Sustainable Finance Certificate Program at Baruch College/CUNY

Guest Post by Ling Qin – G&A Institute Data Partner Reports Analyst

LingQinG&A Institute’s Sustainable Finance Certificate Program, developed in partnership with Global Change Associates, was hosted on 14 December, 2016 at Baruch College, City University of New York, in New York City.

This was a very rewarding learning and networking experience for me. Although I have the primary professional foundation for the necessary sustainable skills and knowledge, this one-day intensive seminar provided me with a broader background and more concrete view of different sustainability frameworks, ESG ratings and sustainable trends.

Leading experts in the sustainable finance gathered together at the Baruch College Vertical Campus to offer their first-hand sustainability industrial insights. Experts participating as lecturers came from Governance and Accountability Institute (which is GRI’s Exclusive Data Partner in UK and US), the Baruch Business School, MSCI, SASB, Bloomberg, Global Change Associates, and other organizations.

Mr. Samuel Block from MSCI introduced his company’s ESG products, their ESG rating methodology and ESG rating process. Not only does he introduce how MSCI’s ESG research carries out, but also informed us [the course participants] of lots of resources of ESG data.

Those important ESG datasets from company public reporting, media searches, regulatory, academic and NGO’s (third parties) enables MSCI and other interested parties to do solid analysis focusing on the most material aspects of companies’ ESG performance.

The lively discussion in the Q&A session cast light on the reactions from MSCI when facing push backs from companies with low ESG scores. After this all-day series of lectures, I understood (for example) that MSCI would include the controversies in their final reports presented to the institutional investors, which is a very good signal of the importance of ESG scores and reputation and the independence of the MSCI’s evaluation.

Another impressive section was around the topic of “ESG Equity Fundamentals Data Analytics” provided by Mr. Hideki Suzuki from Bloomberg’s ESG Group.

He showed participants how to explore and conduct cross-analysis of the ESG performance by using Bloomberg Terminal step-by-step. Bloomberg Terminal covers ESG score summary for companies’ historical trends and their comparable peers’ performance.

For the environmental performance, the GHG intensity indicator in the Bloomberg Terminal is introduced as a good example.

The indicators for social performance in the Bloomberg Terminal include company’s productivity through human capital management, total recordable incident rate, employee turnover rate and etc.

Independence of the board, diversity of executives and executive compensation are outstanding indicators for the corporate governance performance.

Mr. Hideki also highlighted that “ratios” are the key to allow researchers to do apple-to-apple comparable studies, which is an important tip that all sustainable professionals need to pay attention to.

By the end of the day, I not only benefitted from all vibrant sustainable knowledge- sharing, but also feel grateful to connect with experienced sustainable professionals.

All the guest speakers are very willing to share their opinions, slides and contacts. I very much enjoyed an intellectually-challenging learning experience and an intimate learning atmosphere for the whole day.  I recommend this course to my professional colleagues who are seeking greater knowledge in the expanding sustainable investing field.

Linq Qin has served as a G&A Institute GRI data partner corporate reporting analyst.

# # #

Save-the-Date031517_squaread

SAVE THE DATE
The next session for the G&A Institute / Global Change Associates “Corporate ESG for Investment & Finance Professionals Certification” will be hosted at Baruch College/CUNY on March 15, 2017.  Click here for more information and to register at Eventbrite.

At the CR Commit! Forum: Next Generation Sustainability Reporting Issue Table

Juliet RussellBy Juliet Russell, G&A Institute GRI Data Reports Analyst

At the final session on the first day of the recent Commit! Forum’s conference in New York City, attendees broke out into “Issue Tables,” each focusing on different topics — ranging from Human Trafficking to 3rd Party [report] Assurance to STEM Education.

I joined the Next Generation Sustainability Reporting Issue table, where I sat among twelve experts, including the Vice President of Corporate Sustainability at MGM Resorts, the CEO of AdaptReady and the Global Head of Strategy at Thomson Reuters.  We shared knowledge and discussed ideas about the future of Sustainability reporting.

Highlights of our discussion:  First, the growing importance of sustainability reports was discussed, including (but not limited to) their importance as an information base for investors, helping to shape investment decisions.  Many investors are beginning to make decisions based on information disclosed publicly in corporate sustainability reports and are increasingly looking out for ESG (Environmental / Social / Governance) data.

We were encouraged to discuss recent advancements in Sustainability Reporting and the direction in which we expect it to head in.

Regarding frameworks, we expected more companies to be aligning with the GRI G4 report framework and also discussed the possible influence of the new modular GRI reporting standards, beginning this November, 2016.

SASB (Sustainability Accounting Standards Board) was a popular discussion within the group, as many felt this would become increasingly important in Sustainability reporting.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also received a great deal of attention – being new goals (devised in 2014) for companies to align with and being more challenging than the UN Global Compact.  Many of us felt that Sustainability Reporting will be increasingly referring to, and based around, the UN SDGs.

Considering the content of the report, the group expected to see more companies committing to Science Based Targets.  These include ambitious greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs) reduction targets tailored individually for each company committed to help keep global warming below the COP21-agreed 2 degrees Celsius.  This includes communication about ‘best practices’ and scoring each of their main suppliers.

Many of us believed that stating that the materiality of the report content is foundational for these reports and so expected to see more of these types of references.  We also discussed that streamlining Sustainability information provided by a company, e.g. integrating Sustainability Reports into the Annual Reports; that should help to decrease audit fatigue and increases investment in the company and employees’ investment into their work.

Our table participants concluded that the future of sustainability reporting is likely to reflect the combination of influence of GRI, SASB and the SDGs. The final task was to come up with a “tweet” to convey the outcome of our discussion, we decided: “Future of sustainability reporting is a GRI+SASB+SDG sandwich. Yummy. #ReportingSandwich.”

Overall, I found this CR Commit! conference session to be very interesting and insightful. It was a really fun and interactive session, encouraging people from across industries with different experiences to share their opinions and ideas. I think every person around the table gained some knowledge and possibly also ideas for their own company with how to tackle their next, or first published, Sustainability Report.

G&A INTERNSHIP AVAILABLE – GRI Data Partner Reports Analyst

Opportunity:  Learn to Analyze Data and Interpret Content from Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Reporting

Position:  GRI Data Partner – Sustainability Report Analyst Internship Available

Location: Virtual (our offices are in NYC).  Work is done remotely with a flexible work schedule – at your own location.  Initial training via Web.

Time Requirements: Position requires approximately 10 hours a week and begins ASAP.  The timing of the work is flexible and can be done remotely for a majority of the time required.  The internship will take place starting in January 2017 and ending June 30th, 2017.

Description

Governance & Accountability Institute is a New York City-based company that specializes in research, communication, strategies and other services focused on corporate sustainability and corporate ESG performance (“Environmental, Social, Governance”) issues.  G&A is offering the opportunity for an internship for a qualified student interested in learning more about these topics.

This is a very fast growing area of interest to corporations and Wall Street interests.  The GRI reporting framework is the most widely used in the world for these types of reports.

G&A is the exclusive data partner for the United States, United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland for the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).  The Global Reporting Initiative is a non-profit organization that promotes the use of sustainability reporting as a way for organizations to become more sustainable and contribute to sustainable development.

GRI provides all companies and organizations with a comprehensive sustainability reporting framework that is the most widely used and respected around the world.  Currently thousands of global organizations use the GRI to report on their Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance strategies, impacts, opportunities and engagements.  (www.globalreporting.org).  G&A Institute interns learn important elements about GRI reporting that can be used in their future work situations.

As the exclusive US, UK and Ireland data partner of the GRI, Governance & Accountability Institute’s role is to collect, organize, and analyze sustainability reports that are issued by corporations, public entities, not-for-profits and other entities in the United States, United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland for the benefit of all stakeholders.  In this role the analyst will work as part of a team to analyze these reports for inclusion in the largest global database of Sustainability reports, the GRI’s Sustainability Disclosure Database (database.globalreporting.org).

The Intern Opportunity

Learning to read, analyze, use, and structure data from reports using the GRI G3, GRI G3.1, GRI G4, GRI-Reference as well as NON-GRI corporate and institutional reports will comprise the majority of this assignment.  The research will also contribute to several published research reports on various trends in sustainability reporting which are widely referenced by media, academics, business, capital markets players and other important sustainability stakeholders.

The student(s) selected will have the opportunity to experience a fast-paced, highly-adaptive (and nurturing) culture in a small but growing company with a unique niche. This is a hands-on position with considerable learning opportunity for those headed for a career in corporate responsibility.

Applicants should demonstrate a strong background and keen interest in ESG and Sustainability issues and topics.   A plus: strong technical, communication, and organizational skills.  Basic skills in Excel and researching on Google are required. Applicants with writing and editing abilities will have preference.

Interested students should send a resume outlining education and skill sets. As an option, a one to two page introduction essay on what you would like to learn more about (in terms of your career goals), what your interests are, and anything else you feel may be relevant to the job/our organization will also be welcomed.    Samples of writing or research on sustainability or other topics are also a plus.

G&A interns get public recognition for their work in our published reports, on our web platform and in other ways. To see what other interns have been doing (and their backgrounds) check out the intern Honor Roll at http://www.ga-institute.com/about-the-institute/the-honor-roll.html

Contact Information
Louis D Coppola
Governance & Accountability Institute
New York, New York
Email lcoppola@ga-institute.com
Tel 646.430.8230 ext 14

Lots of Important Sustainability Events & Training To Tell You About!

Today we call your attention to a number of events and training initiatives that may be of interest if you are:

  1. A corporate manager with responsibilities in the areas of [corporate] citizenship, sustainability, ESG, responsibility, and related areas, or
  2. Working in the capital markets and want to learn more about these topics, or
  3. Working in another field and would like to join a company or investor organization focused on sustainability and sustainable investing…

An important part of the G&A Institute mission since our founding a decade ago is to help educate, inform and share critical information related to the above topics and positions.  As an example we work closely with Skytop Strategies on many events such as the ESG Summit, 21st Century Company, and Future of Corporate Reporting that educate and inform on these subjects.  We’d like to tell you about a few of our most recent initiatives in these areas.

Introduction to the Importance of Corporate ESG for Investment & Finance Professionals at Baruch College 
Watch for announcements soon about a new program offering we’ve organized in partnership with Baruch University and Global Change Associates (headed by G&A Fellow Peter Fusaro) — this is an all-day “Introduction to the Importance of Corporate ESG for Investment and Finance Professionals.”  We’ll have speakers from Bloomberg, MSCI, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board and other organizations sharing valuable information.  Save the date:  December 14th at the Newman Vertical Campus in mid-town Manhattan.

G&A Sustainability Training HQ Platform & CCRSS Course Offering
The “Certification in Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Strategies” in partnership with Professor Nitish Singh of St Louis University, is the first course offering on the new “G&A Sustainability Training HQ” online training platform.

To learn more about the special introductory G&A Sustainability Training Pioneers Program for this course (including a special discount and extra recognition as a leader in this area), contact Louis Coppola at G&A: lcoppola@ga-institute.com.   Click here for more information and to register for the course.

Join G&A for a Special GRI Standards Launch Event Webinar
We’ve been communicating with you about the important event coming up at Bloomberg Headquarters in New York City– the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) Sustainability Standards Launch Event scheduled for Wednesday, November 3rd.  We’ve learned that the registration for the in-person event is now full and closed.

You can still learn about the new GRI Standards via the convenience of a lunchtime webinar:  Governance & Accountability Institute invites you on behalf of GRI to join us in celebrating the launch of the GRI Sustainability Standards on an informative one-hour webinar led by GRI’s Alyson Genovese on Thursday, November 10th at 12 Noon Eastern Standard Time (EST).

Whether you are new to sustainability reporting or a seasoned veteran, this webinar is designed to provide you with an interactive, detailed overview of the very latest in sustainability reporting. You’ll be guided through the new GRI Standards, important background and benefits, and you’ll be receiving an excellent overview of the changes from the current G4 Guidelines. You’ll have ample opportunity to ask questions to both GRI and G&A (reminder: we’re the exclusive GRI Data Partner in the USA, United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, member of the GRI Data Consortium, and a Gold Community Member).

To learn more and register for this free event, please visit: 
https://goo.gl/forms/jVPOVUL19Jzd1WnB3

If you have questions or want to learn more, please contact Louis Coppola at lcoppola@ga-institute.com.

How Does One Pursue a Career in Sustainability?

This is the question on the minds of many young professionals, as well as a growing number of seasoned professionals looking to change course and work on issues that match their passions and worldview. In our feature article this week, Mike Hower, Senior Writer at GreenBiz group shares some very important takeaways for those that find themselves in this position.

How to make it in corporate sustainability
(Friday – September 09, 2016)
Source: GreenBiz – Making it in corporate sustainability isn’t easy. As a fledgling profession, there are few full-time roles and even fewer entry-level opportunities. While the number of companies with full-time sustainability managers has grown…

Mike points out in his article that the number of companies with full-time sustainability managers has increased by 400% since the late 1980’s according to CSE Research.  He also makes the point that there is a wide variety of positions in the field of “sustainability” – including some that many do not think of when considering a career move.

For example, there is the consulting field; a wide range of non-profit organizations;  a growing number of positions opening in government agencies at all levels; service providers are ramping new offerings with labels like “sustainability,” “CSR,” “Citizenship” and more.  There are also specialized career areas that do not require a college education, such as installers for cleantech (solar panels, windmills, geothermal, etc.).

At G&A we are monitoring sustainability, CSR and citizenship job positions around the world, and have seen a dramatic increase in these opportunities, especially over the last 3 years.  Our clients and others in G&A’s network often come to us asking whether we can help them to find someone to fit a specific position / particular skillsets.  Increasingly these positions are becoming more complex, specialized, and strategically important to the organizations.

To help fill this need, G&A Institute and Rutgers Business School, Institute for Ethical Leadership have partnered together to offer a 2 Day CSR Certificate program in Newark, NJ on Sept 28th and 29th.  You can find out more information and register for the course, click here.

Watch, too, for our coming announcement about an exciting new resource from G&A Institute and partner organizations for remote e-learning courses in the CSR, Sustainability, Citizenship and related fields.

In his narrative, Mike Hower does an excellent job at telling his own personal experience and in sharing lessons learned from others in his network, and in the field.  He summarizes with five key lessons that are detailed in the article:

  • Lesson 1: Develop a niche but also generalize.
  • Lesson 2: Never stop learning.
  • Lesson 3: Cultivate a global perspective.
  • Lesson 4: Embrace mentors and professional networks.
  • Lesson 5: Failure is the key to success.

We invite your reading of the entire feature article below, and let us know your comments and thoughts.

If you find yourself sustainability job hunting, or career path searching, please also consider joining us for our 2-Day CSR Certificate at Rutgers University Business School in Newark, NJ on Sept 28th and 29th.  An outstanding panel of experts in the fields of Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainability, and in the Social Sector (such as foundation managers) will be presenting critical information for participants.  Click here for more information. 

 

Register Now & Save 10% for the “Building a Best-in-Class CSR Department” CSR Certificate Program September 28-29, 2016 Two-Tracks: Corporate & Nonprofit/Philanthropy

LaborDay10_CSRProgram_forG&AFeaturedEventLabor Day Sale — Save 10% on Registration!
Click here to register & save now!

Governance & Accountability Institute and The Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School Newark are joining forces for the Fall two-day CSR Certificate program.

Theme as “Building a Best-in-Class CSR Department,” participants will have a choice of two tracks — one for corporate responsibility topics and the other for not-for-profit / social sector organization topics, with plenary sessions to share knowledge and experience with all participants.

Topics include:

  • The Ethics of Corporate Responsibility
  • Industry Specific Metrics and Measurements
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • CSR Trends – Locally, Nationally and Internationally
  • CSR Through the Investor Lens
  • Materiality – Identify & Focus on Strategic ESG Issues

The two-day, “deep dive” into CSR and related fields of philanthropy including corporate foundation work, corporate sustainability, risk management, and ethics. Rutgers IEL notes: “Executives in both for-profit and not-for-profit fields and their teams need to develop the skill sets, networks, and ever-increasing expertise to achieve their CSR goals, and deliver value to their organization. This certificate program will be presented over two-days with an outstanding faculty of speakers who are experts in their fields.”

Confirmed faculty and guest presenters include:

  • Erika Karp, CEO of Cornerstone Capital Group (formerly head of research for UBS)
  • Mary O’Malley, Vice President of Corporate Governance, Prudential Financial, Inc
  • Ellen Lambert, President of PSEG Foundation and Chief Diversity Officer
  • Wanda Lopuch, Chair of the Board at The Global Sourcing Council(GSC)
  • Georg Kell, Founding Director of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), and now Vice Chairman, Arabesque Partners

The program will take place at the Rutgers Business School campus in downtown Newark, New Jersey on September 28 and 29, 2016.

Labor Day Sale — Save 10% on Registration!
Click here to register & save now!

For more information contact Louis D. Coppola, EVP of G&A Institute, at lcoppola@ga-institute.com

CSR Certificate Program – 2 Day Fall Offering by Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership and Governance & Accountability Institute

New York, NY (August 29, 2016) – Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership and Governance & Accountability Institute are partnering to offer the Fall 2016 CSR Certificate Program. The two-day sessions will be held on September 28 and 29 at the campus of the Business School of Rutgers University in downtown Newark, New Jersey.

Early bird pricing is in effect through August 31, 2016. To register for the course, go to:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/csr-certificate-program-sept-28-29-tickets-26809141865

The Program Offering 

The September program will feature two tracks for participants: (1) the Corporate CSR Executive Track, and, (2) the Nonprofit and Philanthropy CSR Track. Plenary sessions and keynote speakers will bring participants in the two tracks together for group sessions during the two-days. Topics include:

  • “The Ethics of CSR”
  • “Industry-Specific Metrics and Measurements”;
  • “CSR Trends — Locally, Nationally, Global”;
  • “CSR Through the Investor Lens”;
  • “Materiality – Identify & Focus on Strategic ESG Issues”.

The two-day, “deep dive” into CSR and related fields of philanthropy including corporate foundation work, corporate sustainability, risk management, and ethics. The partnering organizations notes: “Executives in both for-profit and not-for-profit fields and their teams need to develop the skill sets, networks, and ever-increasing expertise to achieve their CSR goals, and deliver value to their organization. This certificate program will be presented over two-days with an outstanding faculty of speakers who are experts in their fields.”

Confirmed faculty and guest presenters include:

  • Erika Karp, CEO of Cornerstone Capital Group (formerly head of research for UBS);
  • Mary O’Malley, Vice President of Corporate Governance, Prudential Financial, Inc;
  • Ellen Lambert, President of PSEG Foundation and Chief Diversity Officer;
  • Wanda Lopuch, Chair of the Board at The Global Sourcing Council (GSC);
  • Georg Kell, Founding Director of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), and now Vice Chairman, Arabesque Partners.

Location

The two-day course will be held at 15 Washington Place, in Newark New Jersey, easily reached by train from Newark’s Penn Station (with frequent service from New York City and Philadelphia). The business school urban campus is convenient to Newark International Airport, and numerous nearby hotels. Participants will have Wi-Fi access. Refreshments and food will be supplied throughout the course.

Early bird pricing is in effect through August 31, 2016. To register for the course, go to:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/csr-certificate-program-sept-28-29-tickets-26809141865

 

ABOUT GOVERNANCE & ACCOUNTABILITY INSTITUTE, INC. 

Governance & Accountability Institute is a New York City-based research, consulting and educational services company working with corporate sector and investment community clients. Typical engagements include preparation of sustainability, CSR and citizenship reports; peer benchmarking; customized ESG research (environmental, social and governance performance); investor relations; corporate communications; and third party engagements. The company is the exclusive Data Partner for the Global Reporting Initiative (GI) for the USA, UK and the Republic of Ireland.

 

ABOUT THE INSTITUTE FOR ETHICAL LEADERSHIP

The Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership works with the business sector, the public sector, not-for-profits and other organizations in the social sector, and within Rutgers University, to provide leaders and future leaders with education and training, and critical thinking tools, needed to make ethical decisions. Program offerings include Ethical Leadership Conferences; Cultural and Ethnic Arts Executive Leadership; Collaborative Action Newark; Speakers Series; and certificate programs in a number of areas, including most recently, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The Institute’s mission is to strengthen ethical leadership to enhance civil society. Judy Young, MBA, is the Executive Director of the Institute.

For more information, contact:
Louis D. Coppola, Executive Vice President, Governance & Accountability Institute, Inc.
Tel 646.430.8230 ext 14, Email lcoppola@ga-institute.com
Web www.ga-institute.com

Jessica Johnson, Senior Program Coordinator, Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership
Tel 973.353.1135, Email jjohnson@business.rutgers.edu
Web www.business.rutgers.edu/iel

EARLY BIRDS SAVE 15% — REGISTER NOW G&A Institute & Rutgers IEL CSR Certificate 2 –Track Program “Building a Best-in-Class CSR Department” (September 28-29, 2016)

Knowledge-Gained-Meme-EARLY-BIRDThe Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School Newark and Governance & Accountability Institute are joining forces again on a two-day Certificate program in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

The theme is “Building a Best-in-Class CSR Department.”  The program will be on September 28 and 29, 2016 at the Rutgers Business School campus in downtown Newark, New Jersey.  Participants will have a choice of two tracks — one for corporate responsibility topics and the other for not-for-profit / social sector organization topics, with plenary sessions to share knowledge and experience with all participants.

Early Bird Registration is open!
Registrants save 15% through August 31st.
Click here to register & save now!

Two Tracks:

  • Corporate CSR Executive Track
  • Nonprofit and Philanthropy CSR Track

Topics include:

  • The Ethics of Corporate Responsibility
  • Industry Specific Metrics and Measurements
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • CSR Trends – Locally, Nationally and Internationally
  • CSR Through the Investor Lens
  • Materiality – Identify & Focus on Strategic ESG Issues

An outstanding group of keynoters, panel moderators and speakers is lining up for the program.  To date, among those confirmed as faculty are outstanding corporate sector responsibility leaders Mary O’Malley, Vice President of Corporate Governance, Prudential Financial, Inc; Ellen Lambert, President of PESG Foundation and Chief Diversity Officer one of the nation’s leading energy providers.

In the not-for-profit sector, Wanda Lopuch, Chair of the Board at The Global Sourcing Council (GSC); and Georg Kell, Founding Director and long-time leader of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), and now Vice Chairman, Arabesque Partners, are confirmed presenters.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW!

For more information contact Louis D. Coppola, EVP of G&A Institute, at lcoppola@ga-institute.com

G&A’s New Sustainable Training HQ Platform Offers Free Sample CSR Overview Module

CR-&-Sustainability-Strategies-Certification-Banner

G&A’s new Sustainability Training HQ​ platform is offering a free sample module from it’s introductory Certification in Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Strategies​ Course led by Dr. Nitish Singh, Associate Professor, Saint Louis University & Brendan Keating, VP IntegTree​.

The free module:  ​ Corporate Responsibility Overview​ (What is sustainability, sustainable development, corporate social responsibility, governance, ethics, and business strategies related to CSR) is the first of the twelve included in the full course syllabus.

Click here for more information and how to register!

Three Takeaways From The 5th Annual GRI Conference in Amsterdam (May 2016)

On Wednesday, May 18th, GRI opened the first day of its 5th Global Conference titled “Empowering Sustainable Decisions”, in Amsterdam, welcoming 1,200 delegates from 77 countries.  Amsterdam is a beautiful city with old buildings, canals, bridges and more bikes than the eye can see!   Sustainability is built into the bricks and mortar that make up the city, and it’s evident everywhere from the lack of plastic, to the right of way for bikes, beautiful greenery, public transit system, and the community like feeling that you can sense among the citizens of the city.  It’s a wonderful culture, the people of the city are present in the moment (not glued to their phones as they walk around), they are in touch with their fellow members of society and they value the environment — something that we all can learn from and aspire to.

As some of you may know (or not?), New York City (which I call home) was originally named New Amsterdam when the Dutch settled the lower part of Manhattan.  There are many signs of this still left in the physical and spiritual nature of our city.  The names of many of our communities, streets, etc. still have these roots (Brooklyn comes from the Dutch Municipality of Breuckelen and some of the hipsters are reviving the original name; Harlem comes from the Dutch Haarlem).

The conference was held at the RAI center in Amsterdam — an amazing space with great plenary and breakout rooms, networking / common space, and even a small sand “beach” in the back near one of the networking drinks spaces that hosted a special GRI GOLD members networking event.  It provided the perfect setting for informative and fruitful discussions on complex topics that are becoming ever more important, sophisticated and mature in their impacts and methodologies.

People came from near and far, and I was lucky enough to meet many people that I have worked with over the years virtually — across the pond — but never got a chance to meet in person.  The discussions were filled with passion and purpose — with various viewpoints being taken into account from business, investor, government, NGOs, and other constituencies represented.

Here are three key takeaways for those of you that were unable to make the conference:

  • Data is King For Transformational Change
    The focus on data was felt throughout the conference as the attendees discussed various new technologies to utilize data, and the issues and complexities that must be addressed to realize the full value of sustainability data. Leading up to the conference, G&A Institute was a member of  “GRI’s Technology Consortium” which convened the world’s technology leaders to promote a conversation about how sustainability data and information can transform both business and policy decisions. Part of GRI’s Reporting 2025 Initiative, the Consortium, presented their top five recommendations on the future of sustainability data and innovation at the 2016 GRI Global Conference in Amsterdam.
    View the GRI Technology Consortium’s Recommendations
  • SDGs Will Power The Next 15 Years of Sustainability
    The topic of the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were discussed throughout the conference.  A focus area of the discussions concentrated on how business will align with and incorporate SDGs into their sustainability strategies, goal setting, and reporting.  The SDG Compass which was developed in collaboration between GRI, UNGC, and WBCSD is a tool which helps companies to examine the SDGs in ways that they are already familiar with.  One of the most useful parts of the SDG Compass, in my opinion, is the linkages between the various commonly used reporting frameworks (including G4 Indicators, CDP Surveys, and UNGC Principles), and the underlying 169 SDG targets.  This enables companies to examine the SDG targets which are relevant to the G4 indicators they have found to be material, and are currently reporting on.
    View the SDG Compass
  • NEW GRI Standards — Get Ready for Transition from GRI G4 to GRI Standards
    The Transition to Standards project was initiated in November 2015 by the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB).  The original GRI G4 Guidelines are evolving into a set of modular, interrelated GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards (GRI Standards).  The changes mostly involve improving the structure and format of the content from G4. This is intended to make the GRI Standards easier to use and keep up-to-date, and even more suitable for referencing in policy initiatives around the world.  The GRI Standards will include all the main concepts and disclosures from G4, enhanced with a more flexible structure, clearer requirements, and simpler language.  The transition aims to make the GRI Standards more accessible for reporting organizations and policy-makers, and so encourage more consistent, higher quality sustainability reporting, focused on material issues.
    You can provide your feedback on the first set of draft GRI Standards via the consultation platform. You can also join live webinars or attend workshops around the world. To learn more, visit the Transition to Standards page.

For more information on the conference please visit the GRI Conference website:  http://www.griconference.org/

Expect more from us on these topics in the weeks to come…

If you’d like to discuss any of these takeaways in more detail, or anything else related to sustainability please feel free to contact the Institute.