Playing Nice for a Sustainable Future

When it comes to corporate responsibility, sharing with others is at times more valuable than keeping things to yourself – even if it means playing nice with your competitors. In the last couple of weeks, we’ve observed an impressive number of organizations coming together to address long-standing barriers to sustainability. The efforts have been diverse across sectors, yet all require a new level of collaboration with others in their fields.

Solving for Companies: The Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), two reporting organizations, collaborated to form the International Integrated Reporting Committee (IIRC). The mission of the new group is to create a global framework for integrated reporting that brings together financial, environmental, social and governance information in a clear, concise, consistent, comparable and integrated format. The IIRC hopes to make this integrated reporting mandatory for large companies.

Solving for Suppliers: Companies within the Outdoor Industry Alliance developed the Eco Index, an environmental assessment tool that provides an environmental footprint benchmark to organizations throughout the supply chain. The tool will help suppliers identify areas for improvement and make informed sourcing and product life cycle decisions.

Solving for Manufacturers: and UL Environment are collaborating to create sustainability standards for manufacturing organizations, called ULE 880. The standards will guide manufactures in several areas of sustainability, including governance, environment and community engagement. The draft is currently open for public comment, allowing people to submit thoughts and ideas about the design of the standard – a true demonstration of co-creation.

Solving for Small Businesses: Green America, a nonprofit member organization, announced its Green America Exchange (GAEx), a barter network for small businesses that “promotes trade between America's sustainable and socially responsible enterprises.” The GAEx will help provide its members with a flexible way to purchase goods and services without spending cash, giving a needed boost to small businesses at the heart of America's green economy.

Until now, many sustainability efforts have been individual, disparate and inward-facing. The work of these groups to come together to co-create solutions to problems they all face will push the sustainability needle forward and help eliminate many of the inefficiencies organizations face when they take the journey alone. The road ahead may be difficult to predict, but we foresee playing nice as paying off.


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