Sustainability handbook for companies

02.09.2014

Together with 17 European project partners Oeko-Institut has developed guidelines for small, medium-sized and large enterprises in the creation and implementation of sustainability strategies. The handbook’s main recommendation is that from the beginning the focus should be on the greatest possible benefit for society, both in terms of strategy development and in the implementation of sustainability measures. The practitioners’ handbook is based on the results of the IMPACT project – the largest integrated research effort on CSR impact assessment in Europe to date.

“IMPACT clearly demonstrates that the voluntary measures of companies do have a discernable impact, but one that is too small to fulfil the sustainability goals of the European Union,” says Christoph Brunn, who was responsible for synthesizing all substantive results in the IMPACT project. “Our aim with the practitioners’ handbook is to provide companies with guidelines for how to approach sustainability activities in such a way that the social impact is as large as possible,” says Brunn.

In the spotlight: The benefits for society

There are many aspects to whether a company’s sustainability measure benefits society or not: the choice of specific sustainability issue, the selection of a specific activity, the implementation and/or measurement of positive or negative impacts on society or the environment. The more systematic the company’s approach is, the greater the probability that the sustainability activities will be worthwhile.

With this in mind, the experts have developed the CIAM method – Corporate Impact Assessment & Management. Based on this method, sustainability measures go – in a best case scenario – through five phases, beginning with the selection of sustainability issues that are the most important for the company and for society. After it has been decided which sustainability measures should be implemented, the results should subsequently be measured and evaluated, ideally on the basis of key indicators. In each of the five phases, the impact of the measure is to the fore. CIAM follows the pattern of established tools of management systems and adds some new elements.

Small and medium-sized companies that often have fewer resources for implementing sustainability measures due to their size will find tips in the handbook on how they can achieve positive impacts based on the company’s means.

Further information on the webpage of Oeko-Institut:

Practitioners’ Handbook. From CSR to CIAM: Corporate Impact Assessment & Management

“CSR – How much voluntary commitment is enough?” Oeko-Institut’s press release on the implications of the IMPACT results (from 16.10.2013)

Voluntary CSR commitments of companies are not enough” – Oeko-Institut’s press release on the main results of the IMPACT project (from 17.09.2013)

Oeko-Institut’s background paper on the IMPACT project

Important studies on the webpage of Oeko-Institut:

Impact Measurement and Performance Analysis of CSR (IMPACT): WP2: Econometric Analysis

Impact Measurement and Performance Analysis of CSR (IMPACT): The future impact of CSR in the food retail sector on climate change (2013)

Impact Measurement and Performance Analysis of CSR (IMPACT): Deliverable 6.5: Brief Summary Report for optimisation of tools (2013)

Impact Measurement and Performance Analysis of CSR (IMPACT): Report on cross-WP comparison of CSR performance & impacts according to different types of characteristics (2013)

Impact Measurement and Performance Analysis of CSR (IMPACT): Report on cross-WP compilation and assessment of CSR performance & impacts on EU objectives (2013

Impact Measurement and Performance Analysis of CSR (IMPACT): Report on synthesis assessment of the relationship between CSR implementation & motivation and CSR performance & impacts (2013)

Further information on the webpage of the European Commission:

Webpage of the European Commission

Contact at Oeko-Institut:

Christoph Brunn
Researcher in Environmental Law & Governance Division
Oeko-Institut, Darmstadt office
Phone: +49 6151 8191-128
Email: c.brunn--at--oeko.de