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Posted on Oct 18th, 2021

Sustainability Glossary: Common Industry Initiatives and Terms You Need to Know


Claire Vaughan

Product Analyst

It’s no secret that we've reached a critical point regarding climate change. While more investment and innovation is necessary to further reduce – and potentially reverse – the damage civilization has caused, below are some industry initiatives focused on doing just that.

Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)

Is a not-for-profit charity that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states, and regions to manage their environmental impacts at the request of investors, purchasers, and city stakeholders.  Each year, CDP takes the information supplied in its annual reporting process and scores thousands of signatories based on their journey through disclosure and towards environmental leadership. Through its scoring methodology, CDP measures corporate and city progress and incentivizes action on climate change, forests, and water security.

Ceres Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR)

Is a network of 200 institutional investors, representing more than $47 trillion in assets, committed to advancing sustainable investment practices, corporate engagement strategies, and policy solutions to better manage energy, water, and supply chain risks while scaling up global investments in the sustainable economy.

Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN)

Focuses on reducing barriers to impact investment, allowing more investors to allocate capital to fund solutions to the world's most intractable challenges. This includes building critical infrastructure and developing activities, education, and research that help accelerate the development of a coherent impact investing industry. They provide investors with: industry networks and events, GIIN membership, strategic alliances, industry events, tools and resources for impact, training programs, industry research, market data and publications, market leadership initiatives and more.

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

Created the world’s most widely used standards for sustainability reporting – the GRI Standards. GRI’s framework for sustainability reporting helps companies identify, gather, and report information about their sustainability practices in a clear and comparable manner. The framework is used by multinational organizations, governments, small and medium enterprises, NGOs and industry groups in more than 90 countries – 63% of the largest 100 companies and 75% of the Global Fortune 250 use the GRI reporting framework.

Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)

Developed the SASB Standards which guide the disclosure of financially material sustainability information by companies to their investors. Just as the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) established International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), SASB's mission is to “establish industry-specific disclosure standards across ESG topics that facilitate communication between companies and investors about financially material, decision-useful information. Such information should be relevant, reliable and comparable across companies on a global basis.”

Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI)

Is a global network of investors that works to put into practice the UN-backed Six Principles of Responsible Investing. Its goal is to understand the implications of sustainability for investors and to support the incorporation of these factors into investment decision making and management practices. Learn more about the principles for responsible investing.

Responsible Investment Association (RIA)

Is a membership-based organization that aims to drive the growth and development of responsible investment in Canada’s retail and institutional markets. RIA seeks to align capital with sustainable and inclusive development, as codified in the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. RIA also has a Marketplace that makes it easy to find responsible investment products, services, and advice.

Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS)

Aims to help strengthen the global response required to meet the goals of the Paris agreement, to enhance the role of the financial system to manage risks, and to mobilize capital for green and low-carbon investments in the broader context of environmentally sustainable development. To this end, the Network defines and promotes best practices to be implemented within and outside of the Membership of the NGFS.

Was established by the Financial Stability Board to develop recommendations for more effective climate-related disclosures that could promote more informed investment, credit, and insurance underwriting decisions. This, in turn, enables stakeholders to better understand the concentrations of carbon-related assets in the financial sector and the financial system’s exposures to climate-related risks.

Climate Disclosures Standards Board (CDSB)

Is an international consortium of business and environmental NGOs. They are committed to advancing and aligning the global mainstream corporate reporting model to equate natural capital with financial capital. They do this by offering companies a framework for reporting environmental information with the same rigor as financial information. This helps them provide investors with decision-useful environmental information via the mainstream corporate report, enhancing the efficient allocation of capital. Regulators also benefit from compliance-ready materials.

— Claire Vaughan is a Product Analyst at Purpose Investments

All data sourced from Bloomberg unless otherwise noted.

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