Navigating the landscape of sustainable reporting frameworks is not easy or affordable for most startups. Instead, they need to focus on being lean and flexible to survive the early stages while striving for an ambitious impact-focused mission.
However, some recent news from the White House and UN make us believe that startups that are prepared with the right sustainability data will thrive with a unique value proposition.
First, let’s review some of the most popular and robust sustainability reporting frameworks.
- GRI, Global Reporting Standards
- CDP, Climate Disclosure Project
- TCFD, Task Force on Climate- Related Financial Disclosures
- TNFD, Task Force on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures
- GHG Protocol, GreenHouse Gas Protocol
- SASB, Sustainable Accounting Standards Board
- SBTi’s, Science Based Target Initiative
- IFRS Sustainability Disclosures Standards
Why should impact-focused startups care about these frameworks?
Aside from helping them track and report on impact in a standardized way, there are several market forces to consider. On November 10, 2022 the White House Council on Environmental Quality announced that major federal contractors will be required to disclose environmental data through CDP and TCFD frameworks while also setting science-based decarbonization targets (SBTi’s).
At the most recent UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 15, Dec 2022) the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework was signed with Target 15 calling businesses to “disclose their risks, dependencies and impacts of biodiversity.” This prompted GRI to revise their Biodiversity standard (GRI 304), which is open for public comment until Feb 28th, to complement the IFRS Sustainability Disclosures Standards.
At the early-stages, these reporting frameworks are out of reach for most startups. They simply do not have enough money or data to participate. However, we encourage startups to understand and learn about the different reporting methodologies, to start tracking relevant areas of impact on their own simple spreadsheets and dashboards. Not only does this help them understand their impact value proposition, but it will also position them to be a key player in the sustainability sector.