Glossary of CSR / Sustainability Terms and Concepts


An evaluation method that uses a specified set of principles and standards to assess the quality on an organization's reporting of its performance and its underlying systems, processes and competencies that underpin its performance. 

Corporate Governance
The system by which business corporations are directed and controlled. The corporate governance structure specifies the distribution of rights and responsibilities among different participants in the organization, such as the Board, managers, shareholders and other stakeholders, and spells out the rules and procedures for making decisions on corporate affairs. In the broadest sense, which is increasingly widespread today, corporate governance is concerned with holding the balance between economic and social goals and between individual and communal goals. The governance framework is there to encourage the efficient use of resources and equally to require accountability for the stewardship of those resources. The aim is to align as nearly as possible the interests of individuals, corporations and society. 

A dynamic complex of plant, animal and microorganism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
A process required by governments prior to the approval and development of resource projects. The assessment details, for each of the main types of pollution (water, air, noise, waste), the situation before the commissioning of the installation, the installation’s properties and direct impact on the environment, and the planned remedial measures.

Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (E.I.T.I.)
An initiative designed to increase transparency over payments and revenues in the extractives sector in countries heavily dependent on these resources.

Global Compact
First proposed in an address to The World Economic Forum in Davos in 1999 by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Global Compact seeks to advance responsible corporate citizenship by encouraging businesses to support nine fundamental principles in the area of human rights, labor standards and the environment:

• Support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights within their influence.
• Make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
• Uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.
• Uphold the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labor.
• Uphold the effective abolition of child labor.
• Eliminate discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
• Support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges.
• Undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility.
• Encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
A multi-stakeholder process and independent institution whose mission is to develop and disseminate globally applicable Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, comprising 158 indicators, for voluntary use by companies and governmental and non-governmental organizations for reporting on the economic, environmental, and social dimensions of their activities, products and service. Started in 1997 by the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the GRI incorporates the active participation of representatives from business, accountancy, investment, environmental, human rights, research and labor organizations from around the world. (Visit: www.globalreporting.org )

Greenhouse Effect
A natural phenomenon that maintains an average temperature of 15°C on the planet. Emissions caused by human activities, which contribute greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), disrupt the thermal balance between energy radiated from the sun and the longwave radiation being radiated to space. This disruption is believed to be the cause of climate change.

Human Development Index (HDI)
Created by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Human Development Index is a summary composite index that measures a country’s average achievements in three basic aspects of human development: longevity, knowledge, and a decent standard of living.

International Labour Organization (ILO)
Created in 1919 by the Treaty of Versailles, the International Labour Organization seeks the promotion of social justice and internationally recognized human and labor rights. It became the first specialized agency of the UN in 1946. It formulates international labor standards. (Visit: www.ilo.org )

Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol was adopted at the Third Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan. It contains legally binding commitments, in addition to those included in the UNFCCC. Country signatories to the Protocol agreed to reduce their anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, and SF6) by at least 5 % below 1990 levels in the commitment period 2008 to 2012. 

Loi sur les Nouvelles Régulations Economiques (NRE)
France’s Corporate Governance Act, passed on May 15, 2001, the Act regulates financial reporting, competition and corporate activities. Article 116 requires listed companies to publish an annual corporate social responsibility report on the environmental, social and societal impact of their operations. For example, businesses have to report their water and energy consumption, as well as the gender diversity of their workforce.

Natural Step, The
The Natural Step Framework is a creative approach for addressing environmental challenges based on consensus and systems thinking. Its purpose is to develop and share a common framework comprised of scientifically-based principles that can serve as a compass to guide society toward a just and sustainable future. The framework holds that in a sustainable society, nature won’t be subject to systematically increasing:
· Concentrations of substances extracted from the earth’s crust;
· Concentration of substances produced by society;
· Degradation by physical means; and in that society
· Human needs are met worldwide.

OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials
At the May 1997 OECD Council meeting, Ministers recommended that member states submit to national legislatures legislation to criminalize bribery of foreign public officials. The convention entered into force on February 15, 1999 and has since been ratified by all 35 OECD member states. The convention is a historic achievement in the fight against bribery – obligating all signatories to criminalize bribery of foreign public officials

Social Accountability 8000 (SA8000)
An international standard for social accountability developed by Social Accountability International (SAI) through multi-stakeholder consultations. The objective of SA8000 is to ensure ethical sourcing of goods and services. SA8000 is a voluntary standard and can be applied to any size of organisation or business across all industries. The standard, based largely on ILO conventions, sets basic standards for: child labour, forced labour, health and safety, freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, discrimination, disciplinary practices, working hours, compensation. (Visit: www.sa-intl.org )

Social Impact Assessment (SIA)
A study whose aim is to foresee and measure the effects of a public or private policy, program or project on surrounding populations (social organization, lifestyle, community relations, economic organization, health, culture, beliefs, etc.).

Socially Responsible Investment (SRI)
Socially responsible investing takes into account social responsibility and environmental sustainability criteria alongside conventional financial criteria. For this, fund managers use the services of analysts specialized in this type of rating.

Individuals and groups that affect and/or are affected by an organization and its activities.

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