For over 25 years, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has been the place where forward-thinking businesses come together to accelerate the transformation for a sustainable future. One year has passed since WBCSD members decided to raise the bar of business commitment to sustainability and voted to adopt the new set of comprehensive membership criteria. The members are expected to adhere by the end of December 2022 and the monitoring will be performed annually starting from January 2023.
The first “test run" of monitoring has now been completed and the aggregated results were shared at the Council Meeting in October. The results show that even though the ambition is in place, there is still some work to do for members to fully adhere. Over the course of 2022, WBCSD will be supporting members to reach full adherence across all five criteria, which read as follows:
- Set an ambition to reach net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, no later than 2050 and have a science-informed plan to achieve it.
- Set ambitious, science-informed, short and mid-term environmental goals that contribute to nature/biodiversity recovery by 2050.
- Declare support for the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by having in place a policy to respect human rights and a human rights due diligence process.
- Declare support for inclusion, equality, diversity and the elimination of any form of discrimination.
- Operate at the highest level of transparency by disclosing material sustainability information in line with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and align Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) with environmental, social and governance-related (ESG) risks.
Adherence to these criteria will be monitored annually, through a review of standard, external communication of the company. The well-established process behind Reporting Matters has been used as a basis for reviewing the fullest source of sustainability information from each member. In the monitoring pathway developed by WBCSD, each membership criterion has been broken down into distinct sub-criteria. Performance on each sub-criteria is scored on a scale from zero to three. In order to fully adhere, members must reach level three in each sub-criteria. One exception from this is criterion 2: Nature, where level two is considered as a passing point for now. Some criteria have an additional step that goes beyond the criteria as voted on by members in October 2020. It will not affect membership status but will help members continue their sustainability journey.
In the preliminary monitoring research, we found that the level of adherence varies between criterion. Just over three-quarters (77%) of members fulfil the requirements of criterion 4: DEI and non-discrimination (77%) while only 12% hit the mark on criterion 2: Nature. A third (30%) of members adhere to criterion 1: Climate, 16% to criterion 3: Human rights, and a fifth (20%) to criterion 5: Transparency. To fully adhere, members are expected to adhere to all five criteria. In summary, across the criteria, most members have started their journey and are already pushing towards adherence. For example, on criterion 3: Human rights, half (51%) of members land on level 2, meaning they might meet one of the two sub-criteria but fall short on the other.
WBCSD will share the individual results with each member in February. The scores are confidential and will not be shared publicly. Along with the individual results, WBCSD will share additional information on the new WBCSD Membership Criteria Support Hub. The Hub, an important innovation in the Vision 2050 transformation strategy that will help WBCSD become the platform for the world’s leading companies in sustainability. will connect members with the right expertise, information and best practices to take them on their journey towards full adherence and beyond.