10 posts categorized "Featured"

01 January 2014

MK:SMART Smart Cities initiative kicks off

MK:SMART is a new three-year £16m initiative, funded by the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE), which aims to provide innovative digitally-oriented solutions to the growth challenges in Milton Keynes. Fronesys is pleased to be part of the MK:SMART consortium. Ou-logo

Central to MK:SMART, which is being led by the Open University, is the creation of a state-of-the-art ‘MK Data Hub’ which will curate vast amounts of data from specially deployed energy, transport and water sensors, satellite sources, social and economic datasets, and crowd sourced data from social media or specialised apps.

Why Milton Keynes? MK happens to be the fastest-growing city in the United Kingdom. Anything that can be done to help meet the challenges of supporting growth without outstripping the capacity of the infrastructure, while meeting challenging carbon reduction targets, will be very beneficial to the citizens and businesses in Milton Keynes.

Fronesys played a role in helping win the funding from HEFCE. We created the business case that tied together the various digital initiatives into a single cohesive programme focused on value creation and growth in jobs. In particular, we brought together two main ideas: impacts that remove or mitigate barriers to growth in Milton Keynes, and impacts that drive new sources of value creation in the city.

Fronesys will play its part in the development of MK:SMART - we have been given the task of developing new education programmes that will help city leaders and others learn how to make wise decisions when it comes to Smart Cities. In this work, we will be collaborating with the Open University.

The members of the MK:SMART consortium are Anglian Water, BT, Community Action MK, e-ON, Fronesys, Graymatter, HR Wallingford, Milton Keynes City Council, Open University, Playground Energy, Satellite Applications Catapult, UCMK (University of Bedfordshire) and University of Cambridge.

For more information on MK:SMART, please see www.mksmart.org.

09 December 2013

IIRC launches Integrated Reporting Framework today

A three year journey traversed by a global coalition of companies, investors, framework providers and NGOs led by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) has resulted in the publication of a new framework for corporate reporting: The International <IR> Framework. Fronesys welcomes the publication of the framework and is keen to see it being adopted by companies around the world who are committed to transparency, governance and wise decision-making. International-IR-Framework-Cover-176x250

<IR> applies principles and concepts that are focused on bringing greater cohesion and efficiency to the reporting process, and adopting “integrated thinking” as a way of breaking down internal silos and reducing duplication.  It improves the quality of information available to providers of financial capital to enable a more efficient and productive allocation of capital.  Its focus on value creation, and the ‘capitals’ used by the business to create value over time, contributes towards a more financially stable global economy and is a force for sustainability.

The Framework will be used to accelerate the adoption of <IR> across the world, where it is currently being trialled in over 25 countries, 16 of which are members of the G20, the group of nations focused on strengthening the global economy.

Commenting on the release of the Framework, IIRC Chairman Professor Mervyn King SC, said, “We have been taken aback by the degree to which mainstream businesses and investors have been willing to participate in creating this Framework and embarking on their own <IR> journey.  Last month PepsiCo became the latest global company to sign up to the IIRC’s 100-plus strong business network, which includes HSBC, Unilever, Deutsche Bank, China Light & Power, Hyundai Engineering and Construction, National Australia Bank and Tata Steel."

Jyoti Banerjee, partner at Fronesys, who worked with the IIRC's management team in developing its plans for the release of the framework, had this to say: "Corporate reporting, as practiced today across the world, is broken.  It is broken because it is almost always only about the financial performance of a company - we now know that in most modern companies, the financial statements only capture around a quarter of the value they create. It is also broken because reporting is usually focused on a single period, say a quarter or a year. And it is broken because it is backwards-looking. We need a better way to understand how companies create value, and a better way to help investors make good capital allocation decisions. The <IR> Framework offers just such a solution to the crisis in corporate reporting."

For more information about the <IR> Framework, please see: http://www.theiirc.org/international-ir-framework/.

03 June 2013

Fronesys in winning consortium for WRAP framework contract

Fronesys is pleased to announce that our consortium (Fronesys and its partners Advancing Sustainability, as consortium leader, and Sustain) has won a WRAP Framework Contract (FRA052 Resource Efficiency in Products) through which we can provide a tailored support package advising on a range of issues from accessing finance to marketing and business strategy. WRAP logo

WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) is a not-for-profit private company backed by funding from the Department for Environmental Food and Rural Affairs, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Assembly Government, the Northern Ireland Executive and others.

In this area, Fronesys focuses its work on:

  • reducing waste
  • driving greater resource productivity
  • positioning UK businesses to better address emerging resource security/scarcity issues in the future
  • helping reduce the environmental impacts of our production and consumption in both the UK and abroad
  • 19 September 2012

    ITU launches sustainability toolkit ... with some help from Fronesys

    This week the International Telecommunications Union, the UN body tasked with setting standards in the technology sector, is launching an environmental toolkit aimed at helping ICT companies manage their sustainability performance. Fronesys was glad to help ITU get the toolkit together.

    Over fifty tech companies from around the world contributed to this toolkit. We made a significant contribution of our own: we wrote two of the seven documents in the toolkit, and edited the whole effort.

    There is no shortage of standards, guidelines and tools targeting the sustainability performance of the technology sector. Why do we need another one? The problem with existing material is that none of it is comprehensive in coverage of all the major activities of an ICT organisation. And most are not practical in allowing the integration of regulatory compliance, good practice and business performance. This toolkit aims at just such a balancing act.

    The Smart 2020 report found that the full life cycle carbon footprint of the ICT industry represents around 2% of worldwide emissions, and is projected to grow at a 6% annual compound growth rate. Although the sector’s emissions are rising, its largest influence is expected to be through enabling increased energy efficiencies and improved environmental performance in other sectors.

    A significant challenge for ICT companies is that in enabling better environmental performance elsewhere, the ICT sector is itself taking on significant burdens, at a time when there is greater scrutiny applied to environmental performance, and, often, at much greater cost. As a result, it is important for ICT organizations to use sustainability actions to drive their own business performance, while being more responsible corporate citizens.

    Toolkit content

    The Toolkit on Environmental Sustainability for the ICT sector is an ITU-T initiative which provides plenty of detailed support on how ICT companies can build sustainability into the operations and management of their organizations, through the practical application of international standards and guidelines.

    The basic components of the toolkit are a number of individual documents, each covering a separate area, as follows:

    • Introduction to the toolkit
    • Sustainable ICT in corporate organizations, focusing on the main sustainability issues that companies face in using ICT products and services in their own organisations across four main ICT areas: data centers, desktop infrastructure, broadcasting services and telecommunications networks.
    • Sustainable products, where the aim is to build sustainable products through the use of environmentally-conscious design principles and practices, covering development and manufacture, through to end-of-life treatment.
    • Sustainable buildings, which focuses on the application of sustainability management to
      buildings through the stages of construction, lifetime use and de-commissioning, as ICT companies build and operate facilities that can demand large amounts of energy and material use in all phases of the life cycle.
    • End-of-life management, covering the various end-of-life (EOL) stages, and their
      accompanying legislation, and provides support in creating a framework for
      environmentally-sound management of EOL ICT equipment.
    • General specifications and key performance indicators, with a focus on the matching environmental KPIs to an organization’s specific business strategy targets, and the construction of standardized processes to make sure the KPI data is as useful as possible to management.
    • Assessment framework for environmental impacts, explores how the various standards and guidelines can be mapped so that an organization can create a sustainability
      framework that is relevant to their own business objectives and desired sustainability performance.

    Each document features a discussion of the topic, including standards, guidelines and methodologies that are available, and a check list that assists the sustainability practitioner make sure they are not missing out anything important.

    Although the toolkit is wide-ranging and designed to help improve business and sustainability performance, some companies may decide that they cannot afford to use such tools, particularly in the light of a negative business outlook. This document explores why companies cannot ignore their sustainability performance if they seek superior financial performance.

    Finally, the document covers how the toolkit may mature and develop in future, through extending its scope, deepening its metrics, lowering the questionnaire burden on ICT companies, and through the provision of an implementation program to enable national regulators, policy-makers and individual ICT organizations to use the toolkit to achieve their own objectives.

    Beneficiaries

    Most obviously, this toolkit is aimed at the leaders and managers of technology companies. It gives them a single framework covering all their major environmental impacts so that they can deliver their business objectives while meeting best practice guidelines and complying with standards and regulations.

    However, the scope should also be interesting to policy-makers who want to consider the breadth and scope of regulations they wish to put in place with respect to the ICT companies operating in their jurisdiction. And it is potentially interesting to researchers as a basis for carrying out sectoral, national and international studies on the environmental impacts of the technology industry.

    Wondering how to take advantage of the toolkit in your own organisation? Fronesys can help. After all, we are quite expert with this toolkit! We can offer you a targeted assessment assessing how you manage your environmental impacts, and how the toolkit can help improve your performance. Get in touch.

    28 March 2012

    Common and not so common sustainability themes

    How can companies and stakeholders easily identify those sustainability issues that are hot and those that are not? Fronesys offers a materiality hit parade. Materiality Futures cog image

    The sustainability press today is filled with coverage of a wide range of non-economic issues and impacts that companies have to pay attention to.  But which of these issues do companies believe to be material to their performance, and which are not?   

    To answer this question, Fronesys analysed sustainability reports from 31 different companies, as published in Materiality Futures, our coverage of where the art and science of materiality reporting has got to.  In this report, authored by Chris Tuppen, we found that the 31 companies in our study referenced nearly 140 sustainability issues between them, covering economic, governance, environmental, social and global trends. 

    Before we examine the sustainability issues in question, we should lay out how we chose which companies to include in our analysis. Remember, the study was about materiality reporting, and so our goal was to identify all those companies that met the following criteria:

    • they published a materiality matrix of the sort laid out AccountAbility's Materiality Report, a methodology subsequently adopted as the basis of the related Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) technical protocol on report content.
    • their materiality matrix had at least three degrees of granularity per axis ( the way most companies present their materiality matrix, the vertical axis usually represents the stakeholder, and the horizontal axis the company)
    • individual issues are identified and positioned on the matrix

    As a result of sifting through sustainability reports via corporateregister.com, Framework:CR materiality analysis, and internet search engines, we found only 31 companies actually met our criteria. Although many companies respond to GRI indicator 3.5 and say they use a materiality determination process, relatively few disclose much detail on either the process or the determined level of materiality for individual sustainability issues. Note that this analysis covers sustainability reports published before August 1, 2011.  A full list of the 31 companies is available on the Fronesys website.

    Although we could simply list the 140 or so issues that crop up via the reports of these 31 companies, we can understand their significance better if we explore some metrics:

    • number of companies covering the issue
    • average, minimum and maximum scores on the company axis
    • average, minimum and maximum scores on the stakeholder axis

    To prevent the analysis from being clouded by issues that are important to just one or two companies, we did a further sift to exclude issues that were not featured by at least five different companies, and found that 50 issues met this additional filter. 

    Hit parade

    So which are the top sustainability issues? 

    Here's a table that lays out the top six sustainability issues, based on a sum of the average score from a company perspective and the average score from a stakeholder perspective:

    Top Sustainability Issues
    Source: Fronesys Materiality Futures report, 2011

    So if the top sustainability issues in company materiality reporting are sustainable products, carbon footprints, economic development / emerging markets, etc, etc, which are the ones that are bottom of the pile? Well, here's the bottom six, using exactly the same methodology as above:

    • Work/life balance
    • economic contributions, including tax
    • volunteering
    • freedom of association
    • biodiversity
    • senior executive remuneration

    It is not that these are unimportant issues. After all, biodiversity, for example, featured on the materiality matrix in 19 separate companies, the most commonly cited issue after climate change and diversity.  Yet it is not rated highly as a material issue, either by companies or stakeholders. It is almost like they don't know what to do with the issue - but that would be the topic of another blog altogether.

     Overall, it is very useful to get a view of what issues are actually making their mark on corporate managers - one has to assume that the more public the statements about materiality get, the more companies need to act (and be seen to be acting) to manage these impacts.

    Maintaining such a Top 50 list could be a useful service to the players in the market: companies can compare their own analyses with those of their peers, while stakeholders get a list of which issues are cooking and which need more attention. 

    Here's to more material number-crunching. 

    24 January 2012

    Fronesys supports Aviva stance on sustainability reporting

    Aviva investorsFronesys has joined the initiative led by Aviva Investors to convene a Corporate Sustainability Reporting Coalition (CSRC), which is calling on United Nations (UN) member states to commit to develop a policy framework on corporate sustainability reporting.

    The focus of the initiative is the Rio +20 Earth Summit on sustainable development, which has its 20th anniversary in June 2012. Aviva's initiative is inviting heads of state and heads of government to take action.

    The convention is proposing (see attached PDF) that UN member states at Rio +20 commit to develop national regulations mandating the integration of material sustainability issues in companies’ Annual Report & Accounts. We are also advocating effective mechanisms for investors to hold companies to account on the quality of their disclosures – eg through an advisory vote at the AGM.

    The production of a report and accounts that integrates sustainability throughout will help create the right kind of discussions within boardrooms, throughout firms and encourage investors to think about the sustainability of the firm. We believe this will help capital to be allocated to more sustainable, responsible companies and strengthen the long term sustainability of the financial system.

    Already countries like India and Brazil are exploring mandatory sustainability reporting and this initiative will be encouraging other countries to embark on the same journey. Clearly, the introduction of integrated reporting offers one key mechanism for bringing sustainability into the mainstream of corporate reporting.

     

    29 November 2011

    Fronesys collaborates on ICT sustainability with ITU

    Fronesys is collaborating with a group of information and communications technology companies under the auspices of the ITU (The International Telecommunication Union) to help communicate the importance of sustainability.  ITU

    The major thrust of the effort is in creating guidelines for corporate companies on sustainability issues relating to ICT, and confirming the vital role that standards play in this regard. Fronesys is very pleased to be involved in this work. 

    To find out more , check out http://www.itu.int/ITU-T/climatechange/ess/index.html

    08 October 2011

    Leading companies need to disclose more about their materiality determination processes

    Fronesys launches Materiality Futures: joining sustainability to strategy. Materiality Futtures cog image

    As the marketplace applies an increasing focus on sustainability factors, a number of the world’s leading companies are seeking to establish which of their sustainability impacts are material to their business.

    The thirty-one companies covered in Materiality Futures, the latest sustainability report from Fronesys, are some of the most transparent, but even with them there is often a real lack of transparency regarding how the materiality process actually works. In particular, the report finds that companies are much more likely to be open about their stakeholders’ understanding of sustainability impacts than their own.

    The Materiality Futures report, released today by Fronesys, is authored by Chris Tuppen, partner, corporate services, and is the most comprehensive and detailed evaluation of the materiality determination  process to date. It investigates how materiality is currently used in the sustainability reporting of thirty one leading global companies (A full list of companies evaluated in the study is included in the press release). From the public disclosures of these companies, a total of 50 different sustainability issues are evaluated in the report in terms of importance to stakeholders and the 31 companies.  These cover a diverse range of issues, such as corporate governance, water use, human rights, executive remuneration, carbon and privacy.

    Chris Tuppen, partner, corporate services, Fronesys, says: “The report is particularly timely as companies around the world prepare to tie together their financial and sustainability reporting processes into the draft integrated reporting model recently released by the IIRC. In our view, the key link between sustainability and business strategy is materiality, and it is surprising how opaque the processes are by which materiality is determined.”

    Read the full press release on the launch of the Materiality Futures report

    Check out more information on the Materiality Futures report.

    15 August 2011

    Fronesys partners with Trucost to integrate sustainability metrics into business strategy

    Trucost logo Fronesys, the advisory company focused on embedding sustainability metrics into strategic decision-making, today announced its partnership with Trucost, the company with the world’s largest data set on corporate environmental impacts.

    As a result of the partnership, a company will be able to identify the key sustainability issues that are material to its business and integrate them into its business strategy. This is achieved through a three step process.  A comprehensive data map of all the company's non-financial metrics will be produced, encompassing its own operations and its supply chain. The next step involves identifying which of the multiple sustainability impacts are material to the business.  The Fronesys partnership with Trucost deals with this problem and goes a step further to help companies embed sustainability into their core business strategies. This is achieved by reviewing the company's sustainability impacts alongside the dynamics already occurring across the company's operations and supply chain to identify opportunities to improve business efficiency.  This data-driven, business focused approach to sustainability will help companies develop realistic mitigation strategies for the impacts they wish to minimise and build new business strategies where opportunities emerge. 

    There is currently considerable progress being made by companies across the world in reporting their sustainability impacts. This global story is reflected in the UK as well, where a Trucost study for the UK Environment Agency, Environmental Disclosures, found that 67% of FTSE All-Share companies are reporting quantitatively on their environmental impacts. However, and perhaps more significantly, few companies currently integrate sustainability into their business strategies.

    In a world that is heading towards more transparent governance and greater understanding of sustainability impacts, companies need to find a way to bring these traditionally disconnected issues into their business strategies. However these issues will never connect with the mainstream business unless companies can identify and deal with their challenges in the areas of carbon and environmental impact and resource efficiency in their processes and supply chains.

    Jyoti Banerjee, partner at Fronesys, said, "The partnership between Trucost and Fronesys is exciting in bringing together the domains of sustainability impacts and business strategy. Fronesys has a data-driven approach to sustainability. However, many companies struggle to put together the data they need to manage their sustainability impacts. By using Trucost's environmental impact data and tools, we can help a company measure their impacts, and then figure out what they need to do to address those impacts through the value chain."

    Richard Mattison, chief executive, Trucost said, "We are seeing more and more examples of outperformance among environmentally efficient companies. Trucost provides a data framework to unlock this potential along each tier of the corporate value chain.  An explicit part of our strategy is to work with partners to help companies embed our data within their business strategies. Our partnership with Fronesys will help companies build more efficient, sustainable, and successful business models."

    Find out more about Trucost here: http://www.trucost.com/what-we-do

    Find out more about Fronesys here: www.fronesys.com

    13 July 2011

    Six reasons why sustainability matters to business

    If a CEO’s pronouncements were all the evidence we needed that a business was doing something, then sustainability would be top of the strategy charts. The business case for sustainability

    Over half of the McKinsey Global Survey 2010 participants consider sustainability – the management of environmental, social and governance issues  “important” or “extremely important” to their businesses. An even more optimistic Accenture study of 766 CEOs found 81% claiming that sustainability is part of the strategy and operations of their businesses.

    In practice, for most companies, word and deed diverge.

    The same McKinsey study reports that most companies are not actively managing sustainability, or seeking opportunities for investment or making it part of their business practice. Yet, the best sustainability performers comfortably beat their competitors on sheer economic grounds.

    So how do companies get their deeds to match their words? And why should they bother?  Here are six reasons why companies have to get their sustainability actions to speak at least as loudly as their words:

    • The best sustainability performers are the best performers. Period.
    • Operating efficiency is a sustainability virtue
    •  Keeping out of regulatory trouble is a sustainability driver
    • Reputation? What reputation? The drive to corporate respectability
    • Employees care about sustainability too
    • Business opportunities are rife in the New World

    Still not convinced?

    Well, Fronesys has written a paper that is exactly right for you - six reasons why the business case for sustainability is no longer a debate but a fact.

    Check out the new paper authored by Fronesys partners Jyoti Banerjee and Chris Tuppen: Six reasons why sustainability matters to business.