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Issue#1 – September 7, 20202 150 150 GCSS Inc.

Issue#1 – September 7, 20202

Issue #1

WELCOME!

Dear Friends,
 
We are happy to bring you Gaia Corpus - a weekly newsletter that brings you articles, publications, and events from international and local sources that nourishes you with everything you need to know about sustainability. We will cover all aspects of sustainability that would be relevant for you. This is one of our very own initiative where we would want to help everyone through continuous learning. 
 
We also have a simple Q&A section at the end of the newsletter where we try to address some of the most common / frequently asked questions by our consultants. We wish this newsletter to be more engaging and in case you have any questions that you would want us to address, feel free to write to us - arpit@gcssinc.com and we would try address them in our succeeding newsletter. 
 
We hope that you would find these newsletters useful in your work area and learn new things on how we can adapt to the new normal of sustainability. 
 
Keep safe and stay negative,
Arpit Shrivastava

Co-Founder
GCSS Inc.

Good reads

Humanity needs 1.6 Earths, GFN finds

The Earth Overshoot Day reveals that humanity has used up the Earth's budget in order to support needs sustainably. As of August 22, 2020, the ecological footprint has decreased by 9.3% from 2019 however, Global Footprint Network (GFN) does not see this as "something to celebrate."
READ MORE

Stepping up the Reporting Game - External Assurance

How credible and reliable are your disclosures? Find out how external assurance can provide confidence in disclosures and improve your sustainability performance.
READ MORE
Image from IEE ULB

Financing a sustainable transition

CFOs now need to rethink of ways to balance performance with social and environmental impact. Deloitte shares insights on how they can play a role in a company's sustainability.
READ MORE

Three easy ways Philippine firms can get serious about sustainability

Learn why sustainability reporting may become an effective media for driving profits and creating meaningful long-term change.
READ MORE

Featured publications

Click here to learn more

The rising challenge of sustainability fraud

What is 'sustainability fraud'? What are the risks associated with it? KPMG explains the causes for fraud risk with real accounts from known companies.
LEARN MORE
Click here to learn more

2020 ESG trends to watch

MSCI reveals the five ESG trends in 2020 and how companies, investors and financers, and other stakeholders would react to each of the trends.
LEARN MORE

Important dates

International Literacy Day (ILD)

September 8
This FREE virtual event is packed with interesting talks on responsible investment while still aligned with the global goals. 
Click here for the full agenda
Learn from European industries who leads in investing in sustainable financing to drive to a more low-carbon economy.
Register here

Where should organizations be really headed to?

Perspectives of sustainability continue to change over time. Organizations are undergoing conscious efforts to align themselves with what they think would make them sustainable. And now, issues from the local and global context are becoming more complex than ever - illiteracy as a cause of poverty, deforestation leading to loss of livelihoods, data breaches that brings financial losses, etc.
 
With all these happenings, disclosing non-financial performance can be the 1st thing organizations can do to gain awareness of where they really are, what issues should be prioritized, and what should they do to address those issues, hence, to become more sustainable.
Working with companies driving towards sustainability has led me to realize the importance of engaging everyone - may they be employed under the financial operations, human resources, or logistical units and even those outside the organization. From these engagements, organizations can filter down their priorities, bringing a common understanding to which direction should they be headed.
 
There is no sure answer as to what direction should companies be taking to become sustainable. But the sure thing about sustainability is making sure no one is left behind.
Goldie Madriaga
Associate Consultant
GCSS Inc.
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    How can Individuals contribute to UN SDGs 150 150 GCSS Inc.

    How can Individuals contribute to UN SDGs

    Switch off lights? Recycle wastes? Donate things? Join charitable activities? These are clichés on how to “make the world a better place” but, these are simple acts an individual can do to contribute to the Global Goals.

    The United Nations (UN) created the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a means of solving issues that affect everything and everyone around the globe1. Various organizations have acted against issues by measuring how they affect people, planet, and profit. For an individual, there is no need for such formalities. If a person cares for the others and for its surroundings, that leads him/her to leave no one behind.

    Caring for someone or something is what drives a person to contribute. If one sees someone hungry, s/he gives food to that person. If one thinks of removing plastics in the ocean, s/he uses reusable containers, bags, or cups anywhere s/he goes. There are countless ways to contribute to the SDGs.

    No impact is too big nor too small. If the 7.7 billion people2 in the world act towards sustainable development, the collective efforts of humanity can help restore the healthy balance of people, planet, and profit.

    1 https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals/background.html

    2  As of July 2020. This is according to the World Population Review with estimates based on the UN data. For more information, access https://worldpopulationreview.com/.

    Climate Change and its impact to the Philippines 150 150 GCSS Inc.

    Climate Change and its impact to the Philippines

    Climate change: the greatest global risk

    Climate change, according to the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is the long-term change in the usual weather patterns that have shaped the climates at the local, regional and global levels. Recent trends in climate change are mostly influenced by human activities – the most suspect of which is the high use of fossil fuels for burning – that causes global warming.

    What was once considered a very long-term risk, climate-related risks are now considered by the World Economic Forum in 2020 as the highest set of risks in the world today, both in impact and likelihood. Failure to address this problem in the next 10 years will lead to other crises that will impact the health and safety of everyone. 

    In addition, according to the Climate Risk Index 2020 Report by Germanwatch, the Philippines is the second-most vulnerable to climate-related risks based on their assessment in 2018, right below Japan.

    Physical Climate Risks in the Philippines: Projected Trends

    The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in 2018 made predictions based on established climate change scenarios.

    Temperature rise
    Based on a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, average temperatures would rise nationwide between 1.2°C and 2.3°C from 2036-2065, and between 2.5°C and 4.1°C from 2070-2099. These are based on temperature figures observed up to 2015.

    Rainfall and Typhoons
    Using the BAU scenario, rainfall is predicted to increase and decrease by as much as 40% between 2036-2065 based on observed trends up to 2000. This means that rainfall would significantly vary in the future, causing extreme rains and extreme droughts. In addition, predictions are stating that the number of typhoons will decrease between 2036-2065. However, stronger typhooons, or ones with winds exceeding 170 kph, are expected.

    Sea Level Rise
    Sea level rise, using the BAU scenario, is predicting a sea level rise for up to more than one meter in some low-lying coastal locations in the country in 2050, based on models from Climate Central in 2019. Places in red in maps shown below mean that these areas would be below sea level in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces.

    Other Climate Change Impacts in the Philippines: Projected Trends
    The Philippine Climate Change Commission (CCC), citing reports from international and local agencies, conclude that transition and other environmental risks that will greatly impact Philippine economy and society up to 2100.

    GDP Loss
    The Philippines could experience up to 6% in gross domestic product (GDP) loss by 2100 in a BAU scenario. However, if investments on climate change adaptation and mitigation would be increased, it could avoid these losses.

    Ecosystem threats
    If climate change continues using the BAU scenario, an estimated 98% of coral reefs in Southeast Asia could die in 2050, and be fully extinct by 2100. This means that fish catches in the Philippines could be reduced by as much as 50%.

    Water Scarcity and Productivity
    Water scarcity, due to high variations in rainfall, drought, and typhoons, is predicted to hit the agriculture and industry sectors that comprise about 9% and 30% of the country’s GDP respectively. This would also hit labor productivity, as estimates by the ILO in 2019 predicted that the Philippines could lose as much as 2% overall with around 6% in agricultural labor productivity and around 7% in construction labor productivity.

    Health risks
    With the increased intensity of typhoons and increased variation of rainfall and floods, the Philippines is predicted to have an increase in disease cases such as dengue, malaria, cholera, typhoid, and even the common cold, flu and cases like COVID-19. More women than men, and more children are also highly susceptible to health risks due to climate-related activities.

    What can companies do to help adapt and mitigate climate change

    Look into environmental and social sustainability initiatives
    Companies can do their part in looking into activities, programs and initiatives in sustainability measures, including environmental and social sustainability initiatives. Measures such as Emissions and energy management, water use, waste management, employee diversity, and employee and customer health and safety initiatives, could not only save money for the company, but also contribute to decreases in climate change risks.

    Align initiatives with the 1.5°C or 2°C climate change scenarios
    Companies can align their sustainability initiatives with climate change scenarios ensuring a global reduction of temperatures above 1.5°C and 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels formulated by international agencies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    Communicate sustainability initiatives to stakeholders
    Companies could share their sustainability initiatives to their stakeholders, as they may be directly impacted by the changes that are to be made. Stakeholders would also be a great source of feedback and knowledge in improving these measures.

    GCSS helps companies in navigating through their climate change and sustainability measures through sustainability reporting and training, using international frameworks.

    Sustainability Reporting from the Perspective of First-Time Companies 150 150 GCSS Inc.

    Sustainability Reporting from the Perspective of First-Time Companies

    Sustainability reporting can be overwhelming, especially for companies who are new and  unfamiliar to the process. Unlike a traditional financial report that looks into past performance, sustainability reports focus on accomplishments in the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) aspects and ideally present strategies and improvements planned for future  implementation1

    According to UNEP, sustainability reporting is an essential tool in identifying crucial ESG risks
    and building up relationships with all stakeholders2 . Companies that had recently wrote their first sustainability report found that it is also a great avenue to promote their advocacies and
    sustainability practices3 . However, the preparation process is a laborious task. 

    The biggest challenge often comes during the data collection phase in the form of lack of cooperation within the reporting company. The absence of collective efforts and an unforeseen event, specifically the COVID-19 pandemic, have made communication between relevant departments nearly impossible3 for first-time companies. Also, it took time to prepare, organize, and validate some data as they are not normally published4

    Nonetheless, sustainability reporting had helped broaden the understanding of first-time companies on the uses and importance of such a reporting system as they examine and comprehend the data that support their performance3 . It also gave their stakeholders an opportunity to monitor their environmental and social impacts, which can be used as valuable basis in decision-making4

    1”Sustainability reporting – a perspective from the private sector” by Laura Kreiling: https://www.yorksj.ac.uk/socialeconomy/library-and-resources/sustainability-reporting-/
    2Frequently Asked Questions on Corporate Sustainability Reporting” by the United Nations Environment Programme: https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/26171/FAQ_Corporate_Sustainability.pdf?seque nce=1&isAllowed=y
    3Apex Mining Corporation Incorporated
    4Vistamalls, Inc. 

    Sustainability through the ages 150 150 GCSS Inc.

    Sustainability through the ages

    Sustainability or sustainable development, as we know in the 21st century, is “the ability to meet our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. It pushes us to think of the long-term impacts of our actions on the economy, environment, and society.  However, before it has come to this point, the concept of sustainability can be traced from forestry applications in the 18th century, with the concept of nachhaltigkeit which means never harvesting more than the forest can generate [1] [2].

    Over the years, the concept has evolved to cover not just forests, but all biological systems, and not just the environment, but the economy and society as well. In the 20th century, the world started to adopt sustainable development through the First World Climate Conference in 1979, Brundtland Report in 1987, and the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, among others [1] [3]. In the present century, global commitments were established through the Millennium Development Goals developed for 2000-2015, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2015-2030. 

    With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, deep inequalities and system failures of the status quo have been laid bare – showing the importance of working on the SDGs. Efforts on SDGs progress may have been disrupted and may face serious setbacks; however, the world communities can take this moment to take bold steps for a greener, more inclusive, stronger, and more resilient communities [4]. As UN Secretary-General Guterres said, “We need to turn the recovery into a real opportunity to do things right for the future.” [5]

    References

    [1] U. Grober, “Deep roots: A conceptual history of ‘sustainable development’ (Nachhaltigkeit),” WZB Discussion Paper, 2007. 
    [2] The World Energy Foundation, “A Brief History of Sustainability,” 20 August 2014. [Online]. Available: https://theworldenergyfoundation.org/a-brief-history-of-sustainability/. [Accessed 30 July 2020].
    [3] D. Hirst, “The history of global climate change negotiations,” 24 June 2020. [Online]. Available: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/insights/the-history-of-global-climate-change-negotiations/. [Accessed 4 August 2020].
    [4] United Nations Environment Programme, “COVID-19: Four Sustainable Development Goals that help future-proof global recovery,” 26 May 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/covid-19-four-sustainable-development-goals-help-future-proof-global. [Accessed 4 August 2020].
    [5] United Nations, “The Sustainable Development Goals: Our Framework for COVID-19 Recovery,” 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sdgs-framework-for-covid-19-recovery/. [Accessed 4 August 2020].

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