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David White - Helping to guide sustainability initiatives

Local KZN business leaders create a sustainability scorecard to help transfer knowledge and guide sustainability initiatives

David White - Helping to guide sustainability initiatives

The Green Lights Sustainability Initiative (GLSI) was initiated in 2020 by three passionate sustainability pioneers, Cathie Lewis, Wendy Mahoney and David White. During, and shortly after Covid, they realised that there is a desperate need in the market to help business leaders better understand sustainability as a global quandary. In addition, there is a need to effect positive change in stakeholder measures and relationships, and to ensure that organisations, their staff and their teams contribute positively towards sustainability, rehabilitation and advancement initiatives.

A Good Example

We are fortunate in South Africa that as a country we have been proactive in matters of sustainability and that we support the overarching International Financial Reporting Standards (IRFS) initiative and guidelines, which are in the process of being adopted across the whole world. South Africa wants to achieve zero carbon emission status and aims to be a leading global authority on sustainability. Further, the country wants to be a good example of a nation able to meet the goals and intentions as discussed and agreed upon by 196 parties at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, France, on 12 December 2015. These goals were entered into force on 4 November 2016.

The gap between the intended outcome of a net zero carbon world where countries do not contribute towards pollution and greenhouse emissions, and our current state of daily decline is huge. The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping global temperature rise, this century, to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1,5 degrees Celsius. The consequences of not maintaining these temperature levels include devastating heatwaves and floods.

Growing Confidence

GLSI sees its role as transferring knowledge and understanding of the Sustainable Development Goals to business leaders in such a way that they can grow confidence in how their organisations can measure and transform their processes and decision-making to include sustainability as an enterprise imperative, a value, and even a virtue. GLSI’s aim is to help reframe sustainability in the mind of business from a broad environmental view, and to transfer understanding that sustainability covers all aspects of a business… including essential financial and consumer value metrics.

Of course, all business leaders’ role and responsibility are to create sustainable and ethical organisations, that meet both governance and stakeholder expectations. To ensure this outcome, business leaders focus on:

  • Creating effective and ethical organisational cultures

  • Ensuring the organisation is productive and is meeting operational measures and hurdle rates

  • Adequate controls and risk management indicators to ensure quality assurance standards and controls are maintained

  • Being a good corporate citizen – meeting legitimacy requirements.

Sustainability Scorecard

Creating a sustainable and ethical organisation can never be a tick box exercise, and as such the GLSI three stage Sustainability Scorecard evolution approach helps business leaders, and their staff and teams, evolve in sustainability maturity and be measured against a defined set of principles.

GLSI provides organisations with competency and contribution certificates at each stage of their sustainability journey. The three-stage process is to discover, develop, and deliver a sustainable organisation, where staff and teams understand their sustainability purpose, define intended outcomes, and evolve into an organisation with sustainability and net carbon emission considerations contributing towards decision making, strategy, while meeting operational and stakeholder outcome intentions.

STAGE 1: Indigo Blue

Stage 1 consists of an organisation sustainability induction, where leadership and staff are taken through a deep dive into sustainability transformation, which focuses on the history and development of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their linkages to governance, risk, culture, legitimacy, and current perspectives and future intentions. At this stage the organisation creates a Green Level Sustainability Report that focuses on the organisation’s understanding, commitment, and intention to meet sustainability outcomes.

The organisation at Stage 1 Indigo Blue Level is able to show that all staff have a clear understanding of how the organisation is able to advance its sustainability objectives, and to contribute favourably towards environmental and social rehabilitation and preservation. An organisation’s sustainability journey begins with understanding current circumstances and scientific considerations to improve its daily impact on climate change, global warming and social impacts, and encourages each person in the organisation to believe they are able to make a significant contribution to minimising the world’s carbon footprint.

STAGE 2: Royal Blue

Stage 2 consists of further knowledge transfer in matters of sustainability, and the creation of a Royal Blue Level Sustainability Report. Here the organisation demonstrates that it is meeting and exceeding its intentions defined in their Stage 1 Indigo Blue Report. New intentions are created at Stage 2, where the organisation and staff commit to organisational and personal advancements in sustainability and show evidence of actions and achievements. The adage “what we measure we manage” is apt at Stage 2 Royal Blue Report.

The organisation is required to demonstrate that they have dug deep into the organisation’s vision and strategy, and considered all aspects that have positive and negative effects on the organisation’s sustainability measures. We do not require the organisation to use any particular sustainability model to define its activities. We do require that some use of international best practice, such as the IFRS Sustainability standards, the Task Force on Climate[1]related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) Recommendations, Global Reporting Index (GRI) and the like, are included in the Stage 2 Royal Blue Report.

The GLSI model focuses on governance, measurements, leadership, functional area foundation and engagement as essential sustainability pillars, as its framework is shared with the organisation’s leadership and staff at the beginning of Stage 2 Royal Blue Report level.

STAGE 3: Teal

Stage 3 Teal Level is achieved where an organisation is able to demonstrate that it is continually expanding on thoughts and ideas to advance sustainability endeavours as detailed in Stages 1 and 2. Stage 3 consists of a Teal Level Sustainability Report, where leadership and staff show they are exceeding targets defined at Stages 1 and 2.

They must be discovering new ways to reduce the organisation’s carbon footprint, contributing to community and environmental sustainability enriching initiatives, and sharing their knowledge and sustainability successes with other organisations and their staff – encouraging them to also begin their sustainability development journey.

Reconnect with Nature

GLSI teams are available and excited to share their knowledge and understanding of sustainability best practice. They aim to encourage the development and advancement of sustainability initiatives within the workplace, and to encourage that people implement these ideals in their work environment and day to day living.

Together we are able to overcome this global crisis, we just need to take collective and individual action, and to focus our efforts on reducing waste, pollution, inefficiency, destruction, greed and plunder. There is enough for everyone in the world to live sustainably, provided we have the mindset to share knowledge and resources, and to care enough about our planet and all the people, animals, birds, fish, insects, grasslands, and forests that live in it. We are the generation that will be remembered for the action we take in reconnecting with nature, or the further demise we leave for the children of today to endure in their lifetimes.

Contact us for an exploratory discussion, for us to present a tailor-made process to help you meet your organisation’s unique business needs, to help accelerate your organisation’s sustainability efforts, and for us to collectively create an outcome of a financially sound and successful business, that also serves both the environment and society.

For more information contact:

David White


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