Tue. Jan 18th, 2022

The article by Patrick Temple-West and others “Eight Essential ESG Topics for 2022” (Moral Money, FT.com, 5 January) reinforces a perspective that undermines significant progress towards sustainability. Sustainability can still not be seen as a summary of predominantly climate change issues peppered with a few limited social and governance themes. Sustainability is about an integrated understanding of the full impact of business activity on people and the environment.

So what does this mean for the eight essential environmental, social and management topics?

The so-called “Scope 3 emissions” principle does not only apply to carbon emissions. This is the fundamental principle underlying the corporate responsibility to respect human rights.

This responsibility applies to a business’s activities and through its products, services and business relationships, including its supply and value chains.

The EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Guideline will adopt this approach when requiring companies to identify and report – not only on their impact on climate change – but also on their impact on people and the environment. This means that the principle of dual materiality goes beyond climate change and that pressure for companies to adopt a broader view of their footprint on the world will come from more than just new digital tools and influential corporate alliances. Regulation will enforce it.

With this understanding, the “S” should be considered critical to ESG and applies to much more than employment issues such as security, diversity and trade union formation. It covers the full spectrum of potential negative impacts on people and communities.

In addition to employment activism, businesses need to focus on managing the detrimental impact of “clean” energies and low-carbon technologies that use supply chains that are permeated by forced labor and child labor, producing toxic e-waste that typically ends up in developing countries, and involves mining. activities fraught with human rights violations and devastating impact on communities.

Without addressing the full range of interrelated impacts of business activities on people and the environment, we will not achieve significant change.

Andrea Saldarriaga
Paris, France

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