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What is the difference between Sustainability, ESG and CSR?


Sustainability is a blanket term or catch-all phrase for an organisations effort to do better. The term Sustainability was coined as the ability to meet our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It encourages organizations to act in an environmentally and socially responsible manner, leading to initiatives that are both internal and external and relevant to the organisation.

ESG (Environment, Social & Governance)

ESG focuses on the three main pillars of Environmental, Social and Governance influencing an organization’s internal decision making towards greater Sustainability. ESG performance involves the use of more quantifiable performance indicators that enforce accountability of an organisations action and its impact towards multiple stakeholders. ESG which has been derived from the TBL (Triple bottom line) concept drives organisations to align sustainability efforts with globally recognised frameworks such as GRI, IR, SASB, SDG, etc.

CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and other Environmental Conservation or Social Initiatives

CSR is the efforts of an organisation to uplift its respective society. As most believe that a profit-making entity has the responsibility of improving the society standard while minimizing any negative impact. CSR also includes minimizing environmental externalities, promoting volunteerism among company employees, and donating to charity.

Should sustainability have a return on investment?

Sustainability is an investment which enables an organisation to improve on its non-financial indicators, improve process efficiency and reduce Risk impact, which has an indirect impact on the bottom-line

Are sustainability initiatives alone enough?

There needs to be a rationale on how one arrives at a Sustainability initiative. i.e. For a financial industry organisation it is more relevant to focus on the impact on energy consumption than water. Therefore, having a Sustainability process is necessary to identify the correct initiative in order to invest where it’s truly needed

Do I need to be a large Corporate to practice Sustainability?

Even a smaller company can implement Sustainability processes which will enable the organisation to be more efficient and compliant at an early stage.

What is the role of a Sustainability consultant?

Provide the client with the necessary knowledge, new processes including templates and formats and establishing Key Sustainability Performance Indicators, with an objective of embedding Sustainability as a robust management process. This in turn would assist organizations in identifying and implementing meaningful and value adding initiatives, establish its ‘true’ triple bottom line impacts of operations and also undertake sustainability and integrated reporting in line with a global framework.

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