Copy of `SD3 - economic, environmental and social management glossary`

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SD3 - economic, environmental and social management glossary
Category: People and society
Date & country: 11/11/2007, UK
Words: 47

Alternative fuels
Most fuels we use for our homes, businesses and transport such as oil, gas and coal come from fossil fuels. Global supplies of these are limited and their use produces carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas. Alternative fuels seek to reduce or avoid these problems. They include less polluting fossil fuels such as; Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), and bio-fuels. These are made from agricultural or forestry outputs, such as: using vegetable oil to run in diesel cars and hydrogen gas, which when burnt produces only water and is being developed through fuel cells. Alternative fuels provide diversity of supply but are not without their individual problems.

The ability and duty of an organisation to assure or reassure its stakeholders that it is operating in an accountable fashion.

The process of comparison of performance between business units, companies, sectors etc in order to establish change.

Bio-diversity is the richness and variety of plants, birds, animals and insects that exist throughout the world. This diversity provides us with many of our needs, such as raw materials, sources of drugs and food.

Climate change
Increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere mean less heat from the sun is able to escape back into space. The different moisture holding properties and, for example, cloudiness of this air results in significant changes to climate that are already affecting us and could have catastrophic consequences.

The duty to comply with laws and agreed standards regarding both organisational policies and practices.

Corporate governance
Corporate governance is the way in which corporations are directed and controlled.

The removal or reduction of any environmental impacts associated with a product or a service at the design stage - eg by using less materials and energy; substituting toxic materials for non-toxic materials; designing a product so that it can be disassembled at the end of its useful life and its components re-used or recycled, etc.

Put at its simplest eco-efficiency is about making more and better products with less (materials and being more energy efficient) and which last longer.

These increasing common taxes target goods and behaviours with the specific intention of persuading consumers towards greener purchasing and attitudes. An example would be road tax based on carbon dioxide emissions.

End of pipe
Refers to finding solutions to a problem at the final stages of its life cycle. This might mean a focus on waste disposal solutions rather than waste minimisation or design for recycling.

Fair trade
Trade, especially involving small-scale producers, that does not put the producers at a disadvantage and ensures they receive a reasonable price for their products and can work in decent, healthy conditions. This must adequately cover all costs for sustainable production and provides them with enough income to develop their working conditions and business.

Food miles
The distance food has to travel to get from the source of production to our tables. For example, in a cold country like the UK, we can live in a city yet still eat imported exotic foods when we like. To transport the produce to the UK takes fuel and food miles relate to this fuel and the energy it uses based on the distance it has had to travel. Food miles enable us to better understand the real costs and prices of our food production. This approach can be applied to all scales, products and to many ends for example, encouraging local production, minimising live animal transport or increasing the freshness of our food.

Genetic engineering
The manipulation of matter inside an organism`s cell by scientists which would not occur through natural processes is called genetic engineering. Typically this involves switching off unwanted features of the cell or introducing traits from different organisms. Genetically engineered crops are grown commercially in 16 counties, but are currently banned from the EU food supply however this agreement is under pressure from the US. Genetic engineering is also used in medical research into disorders with a genetic component such as cystic fibrosis. The practical usage of genetic engineering is less than ten years old and few of its impacts of on the environment or humans are known or understood.

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
A UNEP-funded initiative to develop a common format for sustainability reporting and performance indicators

Greener motoring
If taking the car is unavoidable, then greener driving cuts your car`s impacts. Sharing a car, either by giving someone a lift, or formally through a car club, or hiring one when it`s needed make for more efficient motoring. By sticking to the speed limit and avoiding excessive acceleration and breaking, fuel use and car wear and tear can be reduced. Many manufacturers offer Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) and dual fuel cars which could save you money.

Greenhouse gases
Gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane, that are increasing in the Earth`s atmosphere as a result of human activities and causing climate change.

Surrounding the need for transparency, responsiveness, compliance and assurance is the concept of inclusivity - the reflection at all stages of an accounting (accountability) process of the aspirations and needs of all stakeholder groups.

Investors in People
A voluntary standard based on 12 key performance indicators and the generation of objective evidence. Organisations who sign-up to Investors in People make a commitment to the development and training of their staff in order to meet their own organisational goals and objectives.

International Organisation for Standardization. A federation of over 130 national standards bodies based in Geneva, Switzerland.

ISO 14001
The international specification (certifiable) standard for environmental management systems.

ISO 9001
The international specification (certifiable) standard for quality assurance and management systems.

Key performance indicators (KPIs)
Ideally quantifiable measures of the performance of the organisation over time.

The disposal of refuse to landfill is an option that is less preferred today than other options like creating less waste in the first place, reuse of materials, recycling and composting. All of these ensure a more eco-efficient use of resources and energy. Landfill sites are also less available than in the past, while communities are increasingly concerned about their proximity and their potential impacts on underground water supplies.

License to operate
This is the acceptance and trust of stakeholders and society at large in the legitimacy of a company's operations and business conduct which it must seek to retain in order to remain successful in the long term.

Life cycle assessment
The compilation and evaluation of the inputs, outputs and the potential environmental impacts of a product system throughout its life cycle.

Management system
A means by which organisations can formalise, document and improve their management practices. A management system usually incorporates consideration or development of organisational policies, programmes, procedures, structure and resourcing.

Organic farming
Organic farming uses systems which are designed to produce optimum quantities of food of good nutritional quality by using methods which avoid the use of chemical inputs and minimises damage to the environment and wildlife.

Ozone depletion
The degradation of the Earth`s protective layer of ozone in the high atmosphere by some industrial and domestic gases. Avoiding the use of such gases is crucial to avoid damage to health, such as skin cancer, from excessive ultraviolet radiation.

Plan, do, check, act (PDCA)
The conventional model for a management system that follows a logical progression of activities all of which aim to improve the performance of the organisation.

Producer responsibility
By encouraging producers to be responsible for preventing pollution, reducing use of energy and other resources throughout the life-cycle of a product by better design and production means the onus is now on all stakeholders to ensure that products are recovered and recycled at the end of their life.

Renewable energy
Energy sources which do not rely on the burning of fossil fuels or nuclear reactions are renewable in that they are continually available and essentially free, except for the cost of capturing them through engineering solutions. The current major renewable energy sources are hydro-electricity, wind and solar power. Geothermal (hot-rocks), wave and tidal energy are also being developed.

The responsibility of an organisation for its acts and omissions, including the processes of decision-making and the results of these decisions. Responsiveness entails a responsibility to develop an organisation's processes and targets to support the continuous improvement of it's performance.

Reuse & recycle
The reuse of products themselves, for example the refilling of printer toner cartridges, drastically cuts down on waste. By recycling materials to provide the feedstock for other products the amount of material going to incineration or landfill can be reduced.

Risk management
The management of sustainable business practices which can enhance or undermine performance. Unsustainable practices are high risk leading to diminished performance.

Scenarios are powerful tools for addressing what is both fundamentally significant and profoundly unknowable - the future. Unlike forecasts, which impose patterns extrapolated from the past onto the future, scenarios are plausible, pertinent, alternative 'stories' that are concerned more with strategic thinking than with strategic planning, and more specifically with the quality of that thinking. As we enter these alternative stories, we are guided to practice a more flexible approach to the future and to alter our mental maps and preconceptions. Scenarios attempt to look beyond our limited mind-sets, recognising that possibilities are influenced by a wide range of people and that many views of the world are different from our own.

SIGMA Guidelines
The SIGMA Guidelines are the most significant output of Phase 2 and have been developed for all organisations in all sectors and are an attempt to manage sustainability in one simple product. The Guidelines aim to facilitate integrated thinking by offering a flexible, unified but user friendly process, which is values-based and performance driven.

Site lifecycle management
The use and combination of existing tools and techniques (e.g. environmental impact assessment and environmental management systems) to effectively manage a site throughout its life from pre-development to development, commissioning, operation, decommissioning and re-use/re-development.

Socially responsible investment
Institutional, retail and community investment that combines the investors' financial objectives with their particular concerns about social, environmental and ethical issues.

The management system component of the SIGMA Guidelines defines a stakeholder as any: 'Individual or group concerned with, or affected by, a gain or loss in natural, human, manufactured, financial or social capital (or any other impact or outcome) brought about by an organisation's activities, products or services.

Sustainability may best be defined as the 'capacity for continuance into the long-term future'. Anything that can go on being done on an indefinite basis is sustainable. Anything that cannot go on being done indefinitely is unsustainable.

Sustainable development
Sustainable development is the process by which we move towards sustainability.

The Natural Step (TNS)
The Natural Step is a well-documented process that allows organisations to get to grips with the fundamental issues and principles that underpin sustainability. It is both a strategic device and a powerful awareness raising tool. The Natural Step is based on scientific principles, systems theory and organisational learning. The TNS framework has been derived from an examination of the science underpinning the working and inter-relationships associated with natural systems. At the heart of the Natural Step therefore, lie 4 system conditions, which provide a description of the conditions that must be met for society to live sustainably within planet Earth's supportive capacity.

The duty to account to those with a legitimate interest - the stakeholders in the organisation: those groups who affect and / or are affected by an organisation and its activities.

Triple bottom line
A popular way of expressing the concept and practice of sustainable development in a business context. This is the idea that organisations derive their license to operate not just by satisfying shareholders through improved profits and dividends (the economic bottom line), but by simultaneously satisfying other stakeholders in society (employees, communities, customers, etc.) through improved performance against the social and environmental bottom lines.

Waste is what is thrown away because it is no longer needed or wanted. When something is thrown away the natural resources, energy and the time used to make the product are lost. The vast majority of these resources cannot be replaced. By throwing the product away pressure is put on the environment to cope with the waste itself and by a demand for new resources to replace the product. The best way of managing waste is not to produce it in the first place - waste prevention. Then there may be an option to reuse the product and material.

Work - life balance
Work-life balance ensures that everyone, regardless of age, race or gender or other needs can combine work with their other responsibilities or aspirations. Sustainable organisations are open to adjusting working patterns and providing flexibility in employment practices. This can help to increase productivity, attract the skilled, experienced and motivated staff needed and to retain them in a competitive market place.