The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil have issued its first impact report which sets out the achievements of the organisatio across key areas – planet, people and profits.
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The Brazilian palm oil producer has released its very first sustainability report. The company is widely recognised as one of the leading producers of responsible, sustainable certified palm oil. The report documents Agropalma’s progress in providing fully traceable palm oil products, as well as efforts in forest protection, community engagement and labour conditions.
Download the report here
Wilmar International has published the company’s latest Sustainability Report for 2012-13. The report details performance, progress and challenges as well as plans to implement the Grup’s groundbreaking Integrated policy. The report can be downloaded here
Kulim and Felda Global Ventures (FGV) have recently launched their latest sustainability reports. This is Kulim’s fourth Sustainability Report, covering the years 2012/13. For FGV, this is a brand new initiative. Both reports can be downloaded here
by Gabriel Chong email@example.com
We have just completed a very busy period of writing sustainability reports. For a few companies, we worked with them on having their reports assured by an independent assurance provider. Here are some reflections on the value a robust assurance process can add to a sustainability report and a company.
It’s not necessary for everyone - We have had companies about to do their first report tell us they want to do an assurance. When probed on why they want it to be assured, they found it difficult to answer. Often it is because they have seen other companies have their reports assured. For companies undergoing their first report, an assurance is not always necessary. A first time report should focus on getting the process right and on principles of defining report content and quality of a sustainability report.
It’s all about the data - As the scope of a sustainability report expands to include more operating units, data management can become overwhelming. Sustainability is also increasingly becoming more sophisticated, with companies moving to real time data dashboards, and more complex, including sophisticated as data sets needed to generate greenhouse gas emissions information. Having a good assurance provider can help check the data to ensure data trends are correct and credible.
It’s ok to correct the data - For a few clients, the data assurance process discovered errors in some of their calculations. Although this may cause clients to worry or be concerned about reporting to management, it also confirms the value of a good assurance provider. Discovering data discrepancies should lead to improvements in internal data collection, and a more robust data process to avoid errors in the future. Good assurers will also advise on that data management process.
Understand who needs assuring - Traditional data assurance is not the only form of assurance that a company can undertake. We always ask clients who want to undertake assurance, “Who needs assuring? Who would find it difficult to believe your report?” This allows us to help determine which assurance process would help validate their report.
There are other forms of assurance which add value to a sustainability report:
The assurance process can be challenging and time consuming, especially if it is the first time a company embarks on it. However, when conducted in an independent and robust manner which understands areas of stakeholder skepticism, an assurance can add value.
by Rikke Netterstrom firstname.lastname@example.org
Last May, the Global Reporting Initiative issued their new G4 guidelines. They differed substantially on a number of counts, and the focus on materiality helped move away from a tick-box approach and provide for a more tailored report which is responsive to stakeholder concerns. At least that was the idea. One year and no with substantial experience in using G4, we take a look at whether this has been achieved.
The short answer is that G4 is an enormous improvement over previous versions. It encourages mindful prioritisation and presentation of relevant data whilst requiring very little unnecessary fill. We now rarely have to have painful discussions with clients who fail to see the relevance in collecting particular data. If it isn’t material it isn’t included.
A large concerns from some of my colleagues – both in-house and consultant professionals is that the G4 focus so much on materiality, but that it still is a complex and abstract concept which is difficult to quantify. I can see how it is indeed a rather vague term, and I sometimes wonder if ‘relevance’ might be better and clearer. Regardless of terminology, I prefer to see the complexity as a way to providing the necessary flexibility. Each company, even within narrow sectors, is extremely different, and a robust materiality process allows for these differences to guide report content. This year, we are providing advisory on five reports within the palm oil sector, and it is fascinating to observe the huge differences in material issues. Likewise, the clearer message that organisation boundaries should not determine report focus is also helpful; for good companies with robust management structures child labour or corruption may not be an issue, but occurrences of these in the supply chain may well pose a larger reputational threat than any internal practices. G4’s guidance on this is excellent and helpful in explaining this to companies wary of exposing external risks.
Of course, there is no such thing as perfect, so a few things could be improved:
Remove remaining tick-boxes. Whilst many obligatory indicators have been removed, there are still a few niggles which in many cases seem like overkill. In particular I have found that the requirement to list all stakeholder engagement, outcomes etc in a table is a poor way of presenting the stakeholder engagement cycle. For many companies, stakeholder engagement is an integral part of their approach to all material aspects and is better integrated into separate sections, highlighting how the approach to each separate issue is informed by particular stakeholders. Likewise, I am not a big fan of the requirement to list out material aspects, as a good strategy section and disclosure of the materiality matrix should suffice.
Core vs Comprehensive: While I am delighted to be rid of the A, B & C rating, I’d like to see this remnant removed. I really cannot see any reason why this remains, as a company which truly adheres to the reporting principles will and should only report on material aspects.
Lack of clarity of target groups vs stakeholders. Over the past 7 years, I have run materiality matrix exercises for dozens of companies around the world and in a great variety of sectors. Most companies find this a tremendously helpful exercise. However, I think that the ‘stakeholder’ moniker is too broad for this exercise, as there will always be someone who finds a particular issue of high importance. I now start the exercise by identifying target groups for the report, and focus the vertical axis on this. This does not mean that non-target groups are considered, as these may very well be a concern for the target groups (e.g. customers may well be concerned about community land issues, and investors about climate change).
Overall, these are minor niggles, and we will often adjust the process to ensure that reports meet the objective of engaging stakeholders and delivering information which is relevant, rather than perfect GRI-compliance. But with G4, the GRI has demonstrated once again why it is the leading sustainability reporting framework, and no local or alternative guidance comes close
NBPOL launched the Group’s 2012-13 Sustainability Report, developed as integrated set of disclosures alongsode its annual report. NBPOL has created these ‘partner reports’ to underline the Group’s commitment to sustainability. The reports cover all of NBPOL’s global operations, including the New Britain Oils palm oil refinery in Liverpool, UK.
Steering the direction towards a sustainable future, Fuji Xerox Asia Pacific Pte Ltd (Malaysia Operations) is the first document solutions provider in the industry to launch a Sustainability Report in Malaysia. Following the standards of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework, the sustainability programme at Fuji Xerox Malaysia is aligned to international principles and commitments of Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd (Japan). Today also marks the day Fuji Xerox Malaysia opens its new office in Menara Binjai, Kuala Lumpur. To commemorate the opening of the new Malaysian headquarters, Datuk Loo Took Gee, Secretary-General of Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water, officiated the launch with Fuji Xerox’s employees and business partners.
Download the report here
Read more about the launch here
While sustainability reporting is definitely on the rise, few companies globally have measured their complete carbon footprint, and even fewer have published stand-alone carbon reports. A Malaysia-based palm oil producer has now taken the first step and disclosed their climate change impact from production and land use – including complex data from smallholders and own estates. Kulim publishes Malaysia’s first stand-alone Carbon Footprint Report
The effort has been recognised in a statement by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil:
‘RSPO commends Kulim (Malaysia) Bhd for being the first Malaysian plantation company to use RSPO’s PalmGHG calculator in their carbon footprint report. The PalmGHG was developed by the 2nd Greenhouse Gas Working Group to enable producers to estimate the net greenhouse gas emissions produced during palm oil production. Collection of data from smallholders remains a challenge and Kulim has taken an important first step by engaging with their smallholders in the data collection and in including their emissions in the company’s overall carbon footprint. We hope that with increased awareness and better documentation, smallholders will also be able to play a crucial role in managing carbon emissions from the production of palm oil.’
|Download Kulim’s 2012 Carbon Footprint Report|
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