Benchmark Digital’s ESG Executive Collaboration Forum Focused On Importance of Investment Grade Data Regarding Corporate Climate-Alignment and Environmental Stewardship
Cincinnati, December 15, 2021 – -Benchmark Digital (Benchmark), a leading provider of cloud-based Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) software solutions, last week convened its second ESG Executive Collaboration Forum, where ESG professionals discussed how investment-grade data regarding corporate climate-alignment and environmental stewardship are increasingly important for ESG disclosures. Speakers also discussed best practices for generating and disclosing data aligning with multiple voluntary disclosure frameworks, which increasingly climate-focused ESG investors and lenders consult to guide their investment decisions.
“Sustainability in general and climate in particular are the defining issues of our time,” observed Mary Foley, Expert Services Strategy Director at EHS compliance management solutions provider Enhesa. “The formation of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) at COP26 is a clear indication of the momentum. This is part of an ongoing global effort to ensure compatibility between financial accounting and sustainability requirements. The intention of the ISSB is to deliver a comprehensive ‘global baseline’ of sustainability-related disclosure standards; the idea is then that this will be implemented or topped up by specific jurisdictions and then mandated as they see fit for their particular markets. This goes back to the whole idea of having regulated, standardized, auditable and taggable [sustainability] information. It’s all about the data. It’s all about the metrics.”
Other panelists in this second Benchmark Digital ESG Executive Collaboration Forum included Harry Etra, CEO and Founder of ESG program management consulting firm HXE Partners; Allie Wiegel, Senior Project Manager at global EHS and sustainability consulting firm Antea Group; and Tom Keefe, Vice President of EHS Operations at global energy supply company Global Partners LP.
Together, panelists shared insights on the ESG priorities of institutional investors and lenders. Speakers also discussed best practices for companies—from startups to major listed corporations—to administer corporate emissions abatement programs and manage reporting in-line with investor expectations and various standards. Additional expert commentary on these matters will be featured both in forthcoming sessions of Benchmark’s ESG Executive Collaboration Forum and via posts within the Benchmark-moderated ESG Executive Collaboration Forum LinkedIn group, which interested parties are encouraged to join.
“ESG is holistically addressed by institutional investors. On the environmental pillar, we’re seeing increased focus and shareholder proposals around climate risk,” said Etra. “Companies are really being asked to understand how they’re preparing for potential regulatory requirements, not just on the disclosure side, but on the local mandate side. And we will continue to see climate risk treated as investment risk, and capital dollars being allocated to strategies that incorporate ESG—both on the equity side and the debt side.”
Regarding best practices for measuring and reporting performance against climate- and environment-related ESG issues, Wiegel, explained that when a company is designing its ESG program, it’s important “to really listen to what specific data points, [disclosure] frameworks and [ESG] questionnaires your stakeholders are specifically looking for.” From here, said Wiegel, “start with assessing your inventory of greenhouse gas emissions. This is the baseline of your decarbonization journey; it will inform marginal abatement cost estimates that act as guardrails when selecting appropriate carbon reduction strategies and optimizing them for your organization.”
A recording of the commentary and presentations from Benchmark Digital’s second ESG Executive Collaboration Forum is accessible here. To learn more about the forum series, register for the February 2, 2022 session, and recommend future ESG-related topics, visit the ESG Executive Collaboration Forum registration page.
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