Transparency will benefit your company, society and the planet

What is the impact of my activities and production chains on the wider society? And how do I map and present them in my annual reports? Companies that participated in Green Deal Cooperation were asking themselves these questions, in order to improve their transparency in natural and social capital. ImpactReporters was asked to make an inventory of the lessons that have been learned during the past few years and communicate these to the outside world. Lessons that could be interesting for other businesses, including small and medium-sized companies.

Better information – better decisions

By making the impact of corporate governance on humans and nature visible – and by developing a keen eye for our dependence on natural resources – a clearer picture emerges of how a business or an organization performs and what its risks and opportunities are. For instance, AkzoNobel reported on the environmental and social aspects of its pulp factories in Brazil. In its annual report, the company made it clear that improvements in these areas were necessary and possible. The Dutch road construction company BAM commissioned the calculation of real cost (including the environment) of the various types of asphalt it uses. This information is now included in tender procedures; the customer is able to integrate environmental costs in all calculations. Desso, a Dutch carpet factory, wanted to know where in its production chain the greatest impact on natural capital was located. It was surprised to find out that this was in the production of wool: keeping sheep increased nitrogen and phosphor levels in the meadows and decreased biodiversity.

Just a few examples of the 30-odd pilots carried out for Green Deal.

Lessons learned

After two years it was time to describe the entire process and share the experiences gained and lessons learned. This was not just an obligatory exercise; it was intended to inspire the many companies who are not yet engaged. ImpactReporters won the tender the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs issued for Green Deal communication. A challenge: producing flyers, banners, information sheets, bilingual final reports (digital and in print) and a communication plan.