Struggling with sustainability policy? Consult this roadmap

Ceres, an organization dedicated to making sustainability a core part of EVERY business, releases guidelines for making it a more common boardroom topic.

If you're someone who has been charged with thinking about sustainability on behalf your company, I'm sure that one of the things you find most daunting is the very new-ness of this role and the fact that there aren't reams of established materials that give you an idea of what works and what doesn't. Realistically, we know there's such a thing as a Master's in Business Administration (MBA), but I'm hard-pressed to find any references for MSAs (Master's in Sustainability Administration). Tell me about them if they exist, please.

That's one of the reasons that Ceres, an organization that has the very ambitious mission of integrating sustainability philosophy in the inner workings of the capital markets, has published what it's calling "The 21st Century Corporation: The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability."

The report provides 20 very practical pointers in four different areas: Governance for Sustainability, Stakeholder Engagement, Disclosure, and Performance. I found the ones surrounding operations performance to be particularly focused. Among other things, the guidelines say organizations should reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from a 2005 baseline by 2020; that means improving energy efficiency by at least 50 percent, reducing overall energy consumption by 15 percent and switching to renewable sources for at least 30 percent of your energy needs. Another biggie, especially in the context of another report I just read, is that companies should reduce ensure that at least 75 percent of their Tier 1 and Tier 1 supply chain partners meet their own goals for sustainability performance.

One other very key theme: Ceres sees next-generation communications and collaboration technology as fundamental to corporate sustainability efforts. Social media will be vitally important for adequate disclosure and various technologies, notably videoconferencing and other collaboration tools, will be critical for helping businesses shrink their carbon footprints.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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