Environmental aspects of the ESG framework include assessing, reducing and compensating for various forms of impact that a company or organisation has on natural and in some cases urban ecosystems.
All the resources that a business uses to manufacture a product and fuel its processes are initially obtained from nature. All the waste that is not properly recycled ultimately ends up in nature, whether through chemicals leaching from landfills or air pollution from incineration. In society we often see ourselves as having a relationship with nature but the truth is that we are an integral part of it. Humans are living beings just like any other organisms on Earth. We all depend on each other for our survival and prosperity.
From the environmental point of view, everything humans have built and invented is our form of adaptation to the environment we live in. Just like beavers build dams and bees create their hives, so do we construct our cities, factories and means of transport. The difference is that what people create is not integrated into the surrounding ecosystem.
The negative impact we have on the environment is called our environmental footprint. It comes from disproportionately extracting resources, displacing and harming other organisms and emitting different forms of waste and pollution that cannot be included back into natural processes.
It follows that the environmental aspect of ESG consulting aims to:
- quantify the impact businesses have on the environment,
- advise on how to decrease this impact to make businesses as eco-friendly as possible,
- promote environmental awareness in corporate cultures and incorporate it into companies’ public relations.
With the technology we have today, it is quite realistic to restructure production processes in a way that is still profitable and less harmful to the environment. There are also many ways to compensate for the environmental footprint we are not able to reduce. However, the first step is to perform an environmental assessment – and Flagship is here to do it for you.
Solving environmental problems such as pollution and biodiversity loss requires united global action. This is expressed in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) connected to the environment.
4 out of 17 SDGs are directly addressing the biosphere. Those are:
- SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
- SDG 13: Climate Action
- SDG 14: Life Below Water
- SDG 15: Life on Land
The main part on the UN sustainability Agenda connecting businesses and the Environment is
- SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
In addition there are goals that have significant complementary influence on solving environmental issues. Those are:
- SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
- SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
There is a connection between all SDGs, sometimes complementary and other times contradictory. As an example, often the work connected to the first two SDGs fighting against poverty and hunger attracts large investments into agricultural communities, which can have both positive and negative impacts on the environment.
If certain work is dedicated to regulating agricultural production to ensure that the ecosystem is not overused and can restore itself in time, then the local farmers will receive more stable income in the long term, and at the same time the environment will be in better condition. However, if, in order to give additional work to an underprivileged community, a factory is built that has a negative environmental impact, then social and environmental SDGs would work in contradiction.
It is important to understand these connections to create a complete and holistic sustainability strategy. This is why we in Flagship have both environmentally and socially targeted consultants on board.