Definitions

Corporate (Social) Responsibility 

Defined by the E.U. Commission as “a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis.”

Corporate Sustainability Report (CSR) 

Should present “a holistic picture of company activities and a balanced view of benefits and trade-offs among social, economic and environmental impacts.”

In the past 75 years a standardized set of measures for financial performance has enabled cross-company and industry-wide analysis. The same is now a growing necessity for sustainability reports.

Sustainable Development

Defined in the Report of the Brundtland Commission (Our Common Future, 1987) as development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Sustainability

Defined by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers as “a path of continuous improvement, wherein the products and services required by society are delivered with progressively less negative impact upon the Earth” (AIChE, 2005).

Sustainability Indicators 

May be defined as either generic reporting formats or measurable standards for reporting economic, social, and environmental safety performance related to sustainable development.

Sustainability Metrics 

Eco-efficiency indicators; organized measurable information in a format that best supports decision making in terms of sustainability.

Sustainability Reporting 

“The practice of measuring, disclosing, and being accountable to internal and external stakeholders for organizational performance toward the goal of sustainable development.” It is considered synonymous with triple bottom line, corporate responsibility reporting, etc.

Triple Bottom Line

A phrase introduced by John Elkington in 1994. In 1997 he published Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business. The three prongs of the fork, sustainability’s triple bottom line, are economic prosperity, environmental quality, and social justice. Corporate reporting of economic, social, and environmental performance is a means of evaluating company performance according to a summary of costs and benefits to the corporation’s finances, the communities where it operates, and impacts on natural resources. The increasing growth of triple bottom line reports, replacing or supplementing traditional financial-only (single bottom line) reporting, reflects society’s growing expectations that corporations should explain their actions in these areas.