In the global quest to combat climate change, businesses play a pivotal role. As they set ambitious sustainability targets, the importance of tracking, reporting, and validating progress cannot be overstated. This becomes even more crucial when considering the vast network of suppliers that businesses engage with. Supplier engagement is a linchpin in the sustainability journey, and without a robust system to monitor and report their progress, the overarching goals can easily derail.
The Significance of Monitoring and Reporting
The Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) emphasizes the importance of supplier engagement in achieving sustainability targets. Suppliers often account for a significant portion of a company's carbon footprint. Therefore, understanding and managing this aspect is crucial for any business aiming to reduce its overall environmental impact.
Monitoring and reporting are not just about accountability; they are about strategy. By keeping a close eye on progress, companies can identify areas of improvement, celebrate successes, and recalibrate their approach when needed. It provides a roadmap, ensuring that the journey towards sustainability remains on track.
Best Practices in Tracking Progress
- Centralized Repository: Companies should create a central repository for tracking all supplier targets and performance. This repository should be actively managed and updated by a core engagement team. It should include details like the supplier's current SBT status, their contribution to emissions, spend data, and other relevant categorizations.
- Transparent Reporting: For any Science-Based Target (SBT), transparent reporting on methodologies, assumptions, and data sources used for tracking annual performance is paramount. This transparency builds trust and credibility, both internally and externally.
- Continuous Supplier List Management: A company's supplier list is dynamic, with suppliers being added or removed based on various factors. It's essential to refresh scope 3 inventories and related supplier data annually. This ensures that the most significant contributors to emissions are always under the lens.
Validating Progress Towards Sustainability Targets
Validation adds an extra layer of credibility to the reported progress. The SBTi provides a framework for assessing progress against targets. Companies are encouraged to:
- Define a systematic and auditable process for updating and maintaining supplier data.
- Consider third-party verification on scope 3 calculations determining the targeted list of suppliers.
- Ensure that the reported data aligns with the latest SBTi boundary, timeframe, and ambition criteria.
The Role of Suppliers in this Journey
Suppliers are not just passive participants in this journey. They are active contributors, and their engagement is crucial. By setting SBT-aligned goals and actively reporting their progress, suppliers can significantly impact the overall sustainability targets of the companies they work with.
However, it's not just about setting targets. Suppliers need to be equipped with the right tools, knowledge, and incentives to achieve these targets. This is where the power of incentives, both positive and negative, comes into play. By rewarding suppliers for their sustainability efforts and holding them accountable for their progress, companies can drive meaningful change throughout their supply chain.
The journey towards sustainability is a collective effort. While setting ambitious targets is the first step, tracking, monitoring, and validating progress is what ensures that these targets are met. Suppliers play a crucial role in this journey, and their active engagement and commitment can make all the difference. By adopting best practices in monitoring and reporting, and by fostering a culture of transparency and accountability, businesses can ensure that they, along with their suppliers, are on the right path to achieving their sustainability goals.