MONITORING, REPORTING AND TRANSPARENCY
WHAT ARE MONITORING, REPORTING AND TRANSPARENCY?
Monitoring: Monitoring is the process of keeping track of your progress in meeting your targets. It will usually entail collecting information internally, as well as from suppliers and partners, to keep track of how you are progressing against your targets.
Reporting: Once information on progress has been gathered, it is considered good practice to report publicly on how you are doing. Reporting could be done via an annual sustainability report (considered best practice by civil society), website articles, or dashboards that report on specific key performance indicators (KPIs).
WHY SHOULD A COMPANY MONITOR, REPORT AND BE TRANSPARENT?
Monitoring: It is impossible to track progress and respond accordingly without adequate monitoring systems. Therefore, monitoring your progress is essential to adaptively manage activities and their impact on biodiversity.
Reporting: Increasingly, legislation is being developed that requires companies to report on the steps they are taking to address environmental impacts. For example, the 2021 EU proposal for a Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is likely to include a requirement for companies to report on their biodiversity impact.
Transparency: It is in a company’s interest to share its work and progress. You will not get recognition for the work you are undertaking to increase sustainability and address biodiversity if you are not transparent and reporting publicly!
In addition, you will not get recognition for the work you are undertaking to increase sustainability and address biodiversity if you don’t report on it publicly! It is therefore in a company’s interest to share the work it is doing.
Other benefits to good monitoring, reporting, and transparency practices include holding the company accountable to the targets it has set, and incentivizing progress across the sector by setting and communicating clear standards, against which other companies can compare themselves.
WHO SHOULD MONITOR, REPORT AND BE TRANSPARENT?
HOW SHOULD A COMPANY MONITOR, REPORT AND BE TRANSPARENT?
- Quantified KPIs based on your AR3T targets. These are often best presented in a dashboard or infographic format (See below for examples). These work well for state targets (i.e., hectares restored) and response activities (e.g., number or precent of volumes certified).
- Where KPIs cannot be easily set, narratives and compelling stories about the work you are doing will help convey the message, for example in your annual report.
A company should report on the activities it is undertaking to support biodiversity (response targets), as well as pressure and state targets, or outcomes on the ground.
Response targets are much easier to report since you are actively undertaking those, and you have a lot of transparency over them.
State targets such as, “how much production is deforestation free?”, or “how many hectares were protected in the landscape programme I am part of?” can be harder to report on, since this information is harder to obtain. Getting accurate and reliable data on these aspects will mean maintaining strong communication with the organisations and peers you work with on sustainability projects. It may also mean working together to develop shared indicators to facilitate reporting.
Reporting will also be supported by increased traceability and transparency over your supply chain (see section ‘Why traceability?’)
ARE THERE ANY TOOLS THAT CAN SUPPORT TRANSPARENCY AND REPORTING?
At present there are few tools or guidance that exist just to help companies with their reporting. Instead, much of the reporting guidance is built into the approaches and initiatives that help companies to assess impacts and set targets and actions. This helps to ensure alignment between targets, and the monitoring of progress towards their achievement.
Note that the tools that help with monitoring, reporting and transparency should be responsive to the changes you undertake as a company to address biodiversity.
NDPE IRF: The NDPE IRF was developed by Proforest with the support of PepsiCo and Cargill. It is an example of how to collaboratively report on no-deforestation targets in supply chains in a stepwise framework – from volumes that are traceable all the way through to volumes that are known to comply with no-deforestation commitments. It is increasingly applied in other deforestation-risk commodities such as soy, and could be adapted for other materials such as textiles.
LandScale: LandScale aims to help companies and other stakeholders in landscape programmes assess ecosystems, wellbeing, governance and production in a landscape, and to verify and report on results. The value of LandScale is its ability to help multiple groups report on shared indicators, when work is undertaken collaboratively.
Guidelines for Planning and Monitoring Corporate Biodiversity Performance developed by IUCN, allows companies to set goals/targets that are based on their most major impacts to biodiversity and are defined in relation to an overall “biodiversity vision” for that company. As part of this guidance, they provide information on creating appropriate monitoring plans, including how to collect and present appropriate data on progress and general good practice on corporate biodiversity reporting. Outputs will include a monitoring plan describing indicators, data collection for monitoring, and reporting systems that ensure standardisation of presentation.
Biodiversity Benchmark has been designed by the Textile Exchange supported by The Biodiversity Consultancy, allowing fashion companies to understand their impacts and dependencies and create a pathway to delivering biodiversity positive outcomes, by way of setting targets and goals. The outcomes and learnings of the target setting process are fed back into the community to help support other companies to make further improvements and increase transparency.
Accountability Framework Initiative (AFI) focuses on biodiversity impacts related to deforestation and conversion of land, based on a set of 12 core principles. Two of those principles, “monitoring and verification” and “reporting, disclosure and claims”, are directly aimed at increasing the transparency and reporting capacity of companies that are setting targets and their progress towards achieving them. The guidance on each of these principles is highly detailed, and presents best practice for this key component of the overall target setting process.
Good Practices for the Collection of Biodiversity Baseline Data includes guidance on how to conduct ongoing monitoring programs in line with baseline data collection, including the production of a baseline report and progress reports which can be related to targets and actions.
HERMOSA (Holistic Ecosystem Restoration Monitoring, Reporting, Sharing and Marketplace) allows companies to identify and select land restoration projects and monitor and report on the results as those project progress. The process allows companies to monitor progress of projects using remote sensing data, and share insights with others on best practice examples and other learnings.
Examples of company dashboard, reporting on processes and outcomes: