Beyond COP26: Enough Promises. Let’s Talk About Measuring Progress
COP26 is trending online big time, and why? There has never been a better time for companies and governments to make a carbon reduction pledge – or show off their green credentials. But while that momentum should be welcomed, delivering on sustainability goals requires more than words and promises.
Companies that are stepping up their commitments should recognize that. What is missing in these commitments, however, is the foundational baseline data needed to support measurement and accountability – what to collect, how to collect it, and how to best leverage it in establishing benchmarks and driving thoughtful decisions. Making a pledge is one thing. Orientating a business towards true sustainability is a long-term and incredibly convoluted process.
Doing so is no simple feat. Sustainability is one of the most difficult challenges we are faced with globally. Part of what makes it so complicated for companies is the tendency for sustainability to fall solely under the remit of one team or department. Sustainability is unequivocally a concern for all departments of an organization, and strategies must be embedded throughout. Those who do will make impactful progress.
While sustainability should certainly extend to the entirety of a business, there is a risk that accountability suffers without clear ownership. Companies can evade this holding pattern by equipping themselves with adequate data reporting systems that focus on measuring accurate data for reliable real-time metrics. With the rising rate of climate litigation cases, it is a great reason alone to invest in reporting systems for transparent disclosures. If organisations do not take action now to improve the accuracy of their data, they are likely to be subject to serious claims which will cost dearly if they cannot substantiate their data.
When it comes to driving sustainability goals, data quality is a perennial challenge. There is not enough good data, coming from too many disparate sources, often in an unstructured form. Time and time again data quality has been identified as the biggest challenge for ESG investors who are now almost unanimously interested in non-financial data including environmental and social impact data points. This means that, for all their ambitions and ESG targets, companies often must contend with dated solutions that rely on inaccurate or patchy data.
ESG needs an information architecture centered around quality data acquisition to drive measurement, action, and accountability. This goes beyond climate-related data and affects every sustainability goal of a company, be it health and safety, training and development, diversity, or NetZero. But where the data is incomplete, real progress towards those goals will be held back. And not even the most well-meaning organizations can tackle this challenge alone and attain true accountability.
The time is now to stress data.
Without data, it is just an opinion. There are many bold claims out there that either need to be substantiated, validated or exposed. Emex stands for transparency, and ultimately, this is what we want to empower our clients with. Transparency will go beyond grand goals and promises, safeguard trust with stakeholders, and provide the solutions that meet our collective challenges. We should accept nothing less than that.
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We are on a mission to organize and prepare companies in managing their sustainability data, and manage down the very real and large risks they face.