Climate change, Sustainable Development Goals and blockchain were just some of the hot topics discussed in the latest EcoVadis Scientific Committee meeting. The committee, which serves as the strategic review, the third party and outermost layer of our Governance Model, holds annual meetings to guide the company and ensure that our assessment is as relevant and reliable as possible.
Addressing Carbon Footprint in the Supply Chain
Climate change is almost certainly man-made, as reiterated by the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. There are multiple international and European initiatives looking to curb carbon emissions, including the Paris Agreements and European Council’s commitment to a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. It is not surprising then that our Scientific Committee urged us to explore how carbon agenda can be pushed through the supply chain.
Carbon footprint is already a major consideration in EcoVadis methodology, with the “Energy Consumption and GHGs” listed as a criterion for every single company during assessment. All this despite the fact that most companies still do not see climate change as relevant to their business and rarely publish climate change scenarios. Our Scientific Committee suggested we publish more data on climate change and analyze the ways companies address it in their supply chains. While there is not much hard data, such as carbon intensity, that we can compare across sectors, we may look into benchmarking companies that develop science-based targets and report on climate change.
Integrating Sustainable Development Goals
Adopted by the United Nations in 2015, SDGs are a set of targets and objectives to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for over the next 15 years. They provide a global framework and guidance for businesses worldwide and encourage companies to work on what really matters and focus on selected KPIs around sustainability organization and strategy. While they do not fundamentally affect the EcoVadis methodology, they do represent an additional layer of factors for companies to consider. This is why our Scientific Committee agreed that – without any major changes in methodology – during assessment EcoVadis should take a greater notice of SDGs results.
Making Use of Technology
The Committee also looked at ways we can best use existing and new technology to fulfill the EcoVadis mission. The blockchain technology, for instance, could be an option to prevent the transmission of fake digital information. However, private blockchains have serious safety limitations compared to public blockchains at the moment and there is still a vast legal void surrounding the technology. In terms basic everyday technology, meanwhile, smartphones may be worth exploring as a way of capturing workers’ feedback, which could be used in reevaluation.
Looking at Achievements and Pinning Sustainability Challenges
As every year, the Scientific Committee analyzed EcoVadis’ achievements over the last year. The main highlights included new industry-wide initiatives and platform developments, also covered in more detail in our year in review.
In terms of the most pressing sustainability issues, the committee members agreed to the following:
– Use of whistleblower mechanisms to unveil wrongdoings;
– Gender equality in developing countries;
– Disparity of opportunity & socio-economic benefits;
– Lack of action on climate change in spite of scientific consensus;
– Poor labor practices in Asia.
About the Scientific Committee
The Scientific Committee is composed of 8 to 10 internationally recognized experts in Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Purchasing & Supply Chain.
The mission of the Scientific Committee is to:
– Provide guidance on EcoVadis Sustainability rating methodology principles, processes and its main evolutions;
– Make recommendations on how to take into account new sustainability standards, practices and regulations;
– Provide opinions on external market context and developments (economic, geopolitical, science, etc.);
– Provide opinion in case of issues arising with application of the ratings, as part of the internal escalation process.