The need for building global sustainability standards that are widely accepted as critical to benchmarking the progress and performance of companies and corporates towards sustainability is vital. Comprehensive standards should include not just Scope1, 2, and 3 emissions and social and governance components of sustainable development.
Climate science and business response to adaptation to climate change and sustainable development are still in the early stages of development. We are still a long way away from building comprehensive frameworks that will cover all aspects of sustainable development.
We do have some standards like the GHG global carbon accounting standards. Emission monitoring support agencies like STPI (Science-based target Initiative) have been created to assist larger corporations in reporting progress made in a few select sustainable development components.
New ones are being developed by institutions like the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), set up in November 2021 by the IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) Foundation Trustees. The Board is developing a comprehensive global baseline of sustainability-related disclosure standards. These will provide investors and other capital market participants with information about companies’ sustainability-related risks and opportunities, helping them make informed decisions.
The Task Force for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) is another institution created in 2020. TNFD is developing a framework for organizations to report and act on evolving nature-related risks.
Many more bodies are developing specific standards for a set of metrics on sustainable development. We are still a long way away from a comprehensive set of standards that will cover the entire sustainability spectrum.
Sustainable development presents a confusing picture. People report and talk about sustainability based on their perceptions. It enables many corporations to resort to greenwashing and using sustainability practices as a branding tool.
In this confusing picture, small companies and businesses are left with no other option but to use common sense logic. They report to their customers a personal view of sustainability. Sustainable development is often used for brand development.
Let us hope that a comprehensive picture emerges in this decade.