AA1000 is a series of standards for accountability, assurance and stakeholder engagement. AccountAbility’s AA1000 AS assurance standard is a process standard for the assurance of sustainability reports. The engagement standard (AA1000 SES) provides guidance and best practice for stakeholder engagement and organisational reporting, including ways in which to assess the completeness, materiality and responsiveness of an organisation's systems and processes. To find out more, read our AA1000 briefing paper.
The ability (of an organisation, project or institution) to provide an account of its activities both as an explicit record of them, and as an acceptance of responsibility for them.
Adaptation (to climate change)
The process of change to better meet the challenges of climate change. The analysis of the social, technical and environmental factors that influence the capacity to adapt to climate change is crucial to adaptation. Using a quantitative knowledge base on man's vulnerability to climate change and focusing on strategies helps to reduce risk and increase response to hazards.
To work against corruption; corruption being 'lack of integrity or honesty, often associated with bribery, through the use of a position of trust for dishonest gain. This covers monetary gain as well as non-monetary advantages'. Anti-corruption is the tenth principle of the UN Global Compact.
Our company name was taken from the 13th Article of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Rio Earth Summit (1992). Article 13 of the convention was concerned with education and awareness of biodiversity issues.
Assurance, sometimes referred to as verification or auditing, is an evaluation of the quality of a sustainability report or processes, including the underlying systems that produce the information in the report, in relation to a standard or suitable set of criteria (e.g. AA1000 for stakeholder engagement). The assurance provider’s primary role is not to judge the organisation’s performance (although it may provide feedback on achievements), but simply to ensure that the report provides a fair and reliable basis for readers to make up their own minds. Independent assurance can add credibility to a sustainability report.
A management tool that incorporates non-financial measures into the management process. It enables organisations to clarify vision and strategy, to translate this into action and to provide feedback around internal business processes and external outcomes, in order to continuously improve strategic performance and results. It typically focuses on four perspectives: the learning and growth perspective; the business process perspective; the customer perspective and the financial perspective.
In relation to environmental issues, the change of attitudes and action towards those with positive environmental consequences. In practice, behavioural change refers to a wide range of activities, techniques and approaches which focus on the individual, community and environmental influences on health and social behaviour.
Developed in such areas as Total Quality Management (TQM), benchmarking involves the comparison, ranking or rating of the performance of different business processes, units or companies against similar activities elsewhere (often in external organisations). The aim: to identify ways of improving the performance of operations, systems, processes. To find out more, see Article 13's CSR / sustainability audit & benchmarking service.
A working practice that is proven and documented, exceeding the norms of known, typical current operational performance within a specific business environment. It often reflects a business's dedication to making progress in the areas of ethics, environmental sustainability, sustainable development and corporate social responsibility.
The word - a contraction of 'biological diversity' - is sometimes used as a synonym for 'Life on Earth'. But its specific meanings, referring to the number, variety and variability of living organisms, will be central to 21st century values, thinking and action.
Biofuels are a source of energy which is produced from the conversion of biological material (living things or from the waste they produce) into a viable energy form, most commonly used to power vehicles and heat homes.
The appropriation, normally by means of patents of legal rights over indigenous knowledge - particularly indigenous biomedical knowledge. The piracy occurs when there is a lack of compensation to the indigenous groups who originally developed such knowledge.
The search in the biosphere, the collection of all living things, for new forms of life that may have commercial value. Bioprospectors have been likened to the Indiana Joneses of the 21st century.To find out more, read our bioprospecting briefing paper.
BiTC CR Index
A benchmark of Responsible Business, produced by Business in the Community, which aids companies in integrating and improving responsibility throughout their operations. It assists in the managing, measuring and reporting of business impacts on the surrounding community and environment.
The practice of offering something (usually money) in order to gain an illicit advantage. Visit our Transparency and anti-corruption resource centre to explore what is being done to tackle bribery in business.
Business responsibility (BR)
The approach taken by an organisation to take responsibility for its actions and consequences within wider society. This encompasses its policies and measures to manage the economic, social, environmental, ethical and human rights impacts of its business workings, reaping benefits for its own operations, reputation and surrounding communities.
Business Responsibility also encompasses many aspects of corporate citizenship, CSR, and sustainability to name a few. See also accountability.
A radical change in the definition and nature of the business, as if starting from scratch, in response to the external environment. It can be created via developing coaching cultures within organisations. See our executive coaching products to learn more.
Shorthand for a wide range of support, techniques and initiatives which aim at building the resources of individuals or organisations within communities to engage with action plans and issues concerning their own future.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most abundant greenhouse gas and the term carbon emissions is used to refer to the largely anthropogenic (man made) production of this gas, created through the burning of fossil fuels, and from both small and large scale energy-consuming activities.
The impact of something on the environment through releasing CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. A carbon footprint can be calculated to apply to an individual, household, company, community, product, service, in fact almost anything. See also ecological footprint.
A method for measuring the embodied greenhouse gas emissions of goods and services across their lifecycle. The life-cycle approach evaluates a product’s carbon emission over its entire life cycle, encompassing extraction, processing, manufacture, transport, distribution, use, re-use and maintenance, recycling and final disposal. Basically a label which denotes in grams the level of CO2 produced from ‘seed to store’ and beyond including growing, manufacturing, transporting and storing a product.
The method of achieving net zero carbon emissions through maintaining a balance between producing and using carbon dioxide (CO2). For example, balancing carbon dioxide emissions by activities such as growing plants to use as fuel or planting trees in urban areas to offset vehicle emissions.
Giving a monetary amount based on some or all of the CO2 produced by your carbon footprint to a carbon offset company to invest in projects that reduce CO2 by tackling climate change or are working towards sustainability.
Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC)
The Carbon Reduction Commitment, or CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme, is a mandatory carbon emissions trading scheme for organisations that use more than 6,000 MWh per year of electricity, designed to cut the carbon emissions of energy-intensive sectors.
Carbon trading has become the central pillar of international agreements aimed at slowing climate change. If a company wants to emit more than its carbon allowance, it must buy credits from others who are cleaning up. If it emits less, it has allowances in hand that it can sell to those doing less well - thus creating a market in carbon. Proponents of this market-based approach argue that carbon trading allows reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the most economical manner. See also, emissions trading.
Choice editing is the term used to describe instances where governments and/or businesses influence the choices made by consumers. For example, in Australia a decision has been made to remove all non-energy efficient light bulbs, thus removing the choice for consumers to buy non-energy efficient light bulbs.
Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
CDM allows for certain flexibility for developed countries to meet environmental targets, as it allows them to invest in an emission-reduction project in a developing country that will add up to their national emission cut, although operations do not take place on their territory.
Processes and appliances that are more energy efficient through (new) technological means. They have a smaller ecological footprint and carbon footprint, and are developed with concern for climate change, the environment and sustainability.
Climate change implies changes in the occurrence or intensity of extreme weather events, or an accelerated uni-directional change in climate. To date, it is manifested by a rise in global temperatures of around 0.6°C. An overwhelming body of scientific evidence, and political consensus, suggests climatatic change represents a potentially catastrophic threat to humanity. To find out more, visit our Climate Change Resource Centre.
Legally binding since 26 November 2008, the Climate Change Act aims to ensure completion of the UK's carbon emission reduction targets, in line with the Kyoto Protocol, by 80% by 2050, in comparison with 1990 levels. See Defra website for further information.
A formal statement of the values and business practices of a company and sometimes its suppliers. A typical code is a statement of minimum standards together with a pledge by the company to observe them and to require its staff, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and licensees to observe them.
Overseen by the Financial Reporting Council, the Combined Code is a requirement placed on companies listed on the UK Stock Exchange. It synthesises previous reviews of the role and effectiveness of non-executive directors by Derek Higgs (the Higgs report) and a review of audit committees by a group led by Sir Robert Smith (the Smith Report). It replaces the Hampel Committee Combined Code published in 1998.
Communication on Progress (CoP)
For the UN Global Compact, an annual report demonstrating measures of success against the ten Global Compact principles and how the action has addressed the target key performance indicator (KPI). See Article 13’s UNGC COP.
Community participation is the process of involving community members in decision-making about their issues that affect them, such as service planning, policy development, setting priorities or addressing quality issues in the delivery of services. There is a range of ways to involve the community and gain community input and feedback, including: developing formal partnerships, inviting public comment through public meetings, forums and documents for consultation; conducting focus groups, surveys, interviews and workshops; forming community councils, advisory and consultative committees; developing networks of consumers, carers and community representatives; and appointing representatives to health committees.
In economics, the relative ability of an organisation or country to compete in the marketplace. Porter (1985) proposes that competitive advantage "grows out of the value a firm is able to create for its buyers that exceeds the firm's cost of creating it". To find out more, read our CSR expert view on competitive advantage.
The agreement of behaviour with a prescribed law, regulation or code. The similar term, 'conformance', is often used to compare behaviour to that required by a non-legal standard.
In general terms, consultation can be used to describe many forms of public or stakeholder involvement. The process should be a continuous two-way exchange of views and information and if utilised effectively can help to ensure that stakeholders’ needs and views are central to any decisions that are made. Consultation provides an extremely important means of engaging people in both public and private sector activities, and in the shaping of services and policy development.
The understanding that services are most successful when stakeholders are involved throughout the process. This starts from the scoping stages and integrates on-the-spot capacity building - providing the tools and materials to build the capacity of local and internal stakeholders to undertake future engagement and leave a community legacy. The process enables organisations to create a sustainable solution with robust governance structures.
An approach by which a company:
- recognises that its activities have a wider impact on the society in which it operates; and that developments in society in turn impact on its ability to pursue its business successfully;
- actively manages the economic, social, environmental and human rights impact of its activities across the world, basing these on principles which reflect international values, reaping benefits both for its own operations and reputation as well as for the communities in which it operates;
- seeks to achieve these benefits by working closely with stakeholders and other groups and organisations - local communities, civil society, other businesses and home and host governments.
This approach is derived from principles of sustainable development. To find out more, order our publication on corporate social responsibility.
Corporate governance relates to the internal means by which corporations are directed and controlled. While governments play a central role in shaping the legal, institutional and regulatory climate within which individual corporate governance systems are developed, the main responsibility lies with the individual organisation in the private sector. (“OECD Principles of Corporate Governance”, 1999). To find out more, read our CSR expert view on corporate governance.
Lack of integrity or honesty, often associated with bribery, through the use of a position of trust for dishonest gain.
A cultural change in an organisation refers to the structural and social changes in the basic behaviour, values, norms, beliefs, ethical structure etc. This is often sought in order to improve organisational performance.
(Source: Article 13 sources and World Business Council on Sustainable Development).
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