Why Sustainability Leaders Need an Ocean Disclosure Index
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Why Sustainability Leaders Need an Ocean Disclosure Index

ONE COMPANY IN FOUR ARE AWARE OF THEIR PRESSURE ON OCEANS AND ACTIVE IN ITS MITIGATION, BUT THEY LACK A REPORTING STANDARD FOCUSED ON OCEAN RELATED ISSUES. SDA BOCCONI PARTICIPATED IN THE ONE OCEAN FOUNDATION STUDY PRESENTED YESTERDAY AT THE UNITED NATIONS WORLD OCEANS DAY

The glass is to be considered half full. The Business for Ocean Sustainability report presented yesterday by the One Ocean Foundation at the UN World Oceans Day shows that 51% of the world companies are aware, albeit to varying degrees, of the potential pressures of their industries on the ocean, and 44% of them deploy some kind of mitigating activities.
 
The best recognized problems are marine litter (mostly plastic), biodiversity and contaminants. Awareness of pressures generated by less publicized issues, such as over-exploitation of marine resources, eutrophication, seafloor integrity and the introduction of energy in the marine environment (i.e. noise, heat, vibration, light) is still limited.
 
The study draws on a large sample of 1,664 companies, accounting for 50% of the world’s market capitalization and distributed across 16 industrial sectors, both ocean and non-ocean related. The report was written by a team from SDA Bocconi School of Management Sustainability Lab including Stefano Pogutz (who is also Head of the One Ocean Foundation’s Scientific Committee), Francesco Perrini, Aristea Saputo, Manlio De Silvio and Virginia Allevi, in collaboration with McKinsey&Company and CSIC (the Spanish National Research Council).
 
“According to our analysis, 26% of companies are simultaneously aware and active”, says Pogutz. “We call these companies sustainability leaders, and they can be found in most industries, both ocean and non-ocean related”.
 
Sustainability leaders reveal a better attitude towards product innovation, process innovation, and collaboration and engagement of relevant stakeholders for ocean protection. Sustainability leaders have reached greater maturity than other peers in their ESG (environmental, social and governance) sustainability journey, including in terms of development of more advanced solutions for managing the supply chain, and in the adoption of transparent reporting initiatives.
 
Among sustainability leaders, 91% report on their general sustainability agenda using the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative), the most widespread sustainability reporting standard. In any case, as of today, there is no specific reporting initiative focused on ocean-related issues, and companies willing to report on the ocean are forced to work up and adopt self-defined targets or indicators.  The report, then, supports a new initiative aimed at promoting the disclosure of data and information regarding business pressures on marine and coastal ecosystems, in order to introduce an Ocean Disclosure Index, based on the virtuous behavior of companies in managing and reporting their practices on ocean sustainability. “Just as in the case of climate change and the circular economy, the disclosure of standardized ocean-related information will be beneficial to business, investors, policy makers and other stakeholders”, Pogutz concludes.

by Fabio Todesco

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