ERM's engagement in sustainability challenges
2015 was the culmination of a number of significant sustainability events and initiatives, which has impacted organizations and companies across sectors and geographies. As active participants and collaborators, ERM's Partners, Technical Directors and consultants have made valuable contributions to the global sustainability debate.
These technical leaders play a crucial role in sharing insights and providing practical advice and solutions to our clients. By engaging actively with selected leadership organizations, we help companies understand and manage the risks and opportunities that lie ahead.
Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals
The United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015. These 17 goals are designed to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. They reside within the key document, Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The business world was involved directly in developing the SDGs, coordinated by the UN Global Compact (UNGC), World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). ERM is a member of each of these global organizations – and provided input during the various consultation phases over the past few years.
Since September 2015, we have found that many clients are looking at how to support the SDGs in their own organizations. ERM is working to help clients with their strategic and tactical approaches to the SDGs within their business context. For example, we provide advice on how companies can apply the SDGs to their corporate strategy, policies and projects and to assist with measuring performance and impact. We are helping companies to identify how the SDGs can provide concrete direction for business strategy and, in turn, corporate sustainability programs and communications. Building on our clients' and our own sustainability journey and ambition, we see the SDGs as becoming an integral part of corporate sustainability frameworks.
Implementing the COP21 Paris Agreement
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was established at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and the technical experts who are part of ERM’s climate change team have been involved in its activities since that time. During the December 2015 COP21 Conference in Paris, we hosted two side events at the International Emissions Trading Association and WBCSD business hub. The first of these outlined how businesses can understand the physical risks to their supply chains from changing climates. ERM's second event, entitled "Supporting the Success of Green Climate Fund Projects: The Important Role of Sustainability and Environmental and Social Safeguards" considered the increasingly valuable contribution of the fund in supporting low-carbon investment.
In addition to our attendance and active participation at the conference itself, ERM published a series of articles focused on the importance of the Agreement and climate change. We published an analysis in January 2016 entitled, What the COP21 Paris Agreement means for your business – Post COP21 Update, which provides concrete actions companies can take in light of the Agreement. ERM and the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) jointly produced a new paper, The Paris Climate Agreement: Implications for banks, institutional investors, private equity and insurers, which focuses on the implications for financial institutions and sets out a framework for action directed towards maximizing related commercial opportunities and mitigating risk. During February 2016, ERM hosted a series of webinars discussing what the outcomes of the Paris Agreement mean for business.
Braulio Pikman, an ERM Partner and climate change expert, is a member of the Methodological Panel of the Clean Development Mechanism for the UNFCCC and joined the IPCC Task Force on National Greenhouse Gases Inventories in 2013. Recently, Braulio was certified by UNFCCC to be part of the Expert Review Team that signs off on National Inventory Reports of Annex 1 countries. This certification is just one example of ERM's contribution to wider climate change efforts, which becomes increasingly important as the world moves to keep the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Promoting sustainability within industry organizations
In addition to participating in sustainability-focused organizations and conferences, ERM is active in several mainstream organizations that are important to our clients. Three of these are highlighted below.
We were proud to once again be the Sustainability Partner for IHS CERAWeek the premier annual international gathering of energy industry leaders, experts, government officials and policymakers, leaders from the technology, financial and industrial communities – and energy technology innovators. This was our 6th year as Sustainability Partner at CERAWeek, and our participation enabled us to share insights across several topics throughout the week. This included contributing to sessions on post COP21 implications for business, strategies for how environment, health and safety functions can operate in a cost-constrained world and the more granular issue surrounding managing methane emissions.
Trey Shaffer, an ERM Partner focused on the oil and gas sector, has completed the first year of his three-year tenure as the Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Social Responsibility (HSSE-SR) Technical Director with the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). With over 144,000 members globally, SPE is the largest individual-member organization serving managers, engineers, scientists and other professionals worldwide in the upstream segment of the oil and gas industry. As one of six SPE Technical Directors, Trey helps decision-makers understand the benefits of anticipating and avoiding nontechnical issues associated with costly and technically complicated projects. Trey also chairs SPE's Safety and Environment Study Group for the Gulf Coast Section and serves in other global SPE roles including the global HSSE-SR Advisory Committee and the SPE Sustainability committee.
As we have in prior years, ERM addressed the issues affecting the mining industry at the 2016 Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Convention (PDAC), the world's largest convention for mineral exploration. ERM's global mining experience allows us to discuss key topics that are particularly relevant in the current business landscape. At this year's conference, we led sessions on strategic stakeholder engagement, catastrophic hazards, measuring community well-being, business-critical water risks and aboriginal participation, among others.