Global engineering and infrastructure advisory company Aurecon has become an Implementation Partner of the Competitive Business Programme of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in South Africa. Aurecon is the first major, multidisciplinary engineering consultancy to do so.
The GRI promotes the use of sustainability reporting as a way for companies to gain a comprehensive understanding of the environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities facing their businesses.
Through becoming an Implementation Partner, Aurecon will be participating in a GRI programme that is funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) to feed sustainability and sustainability reporting into Aurecon’s supply chain by offering training on the new reporting tool which the GRI developed.
Head of Quality, Environment & Sustainability at Aurecon, Sonja de Klerk, says sustainability reporting is a critical competitive differentiator for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in emerging markets.
“Thousands of large companies around the world already reap the benefits of sustainability reporting, like lower energy costs, and more productive employees. With the new tool, companies of all sizes can access these benefits.
“The user-friendly Competitive Business Reporting Tool that has been launched gives companies an introduction to sustainability reporting along with templates for people to use. It has been designed for SMEs to enter global value chains and it has a strong emphasis on working in the different country-specific contexts,” says de Klerk.
Aurecon is focusing on providing training on the GRI’s Competitive Business Reporting Tool to active sub-consultants who are also members of Consulting Engineers of South Africa (CESA).
“CESA members are obligated to do sustainability reporting, but often struggle with this reporting. Not only are sustainability courses often expensive to attend, but from experience I know help is generally needed to get started with this process,” says de Klerk.
Aurecon’s annual sustainability report is guided by the GRI Standards and measures the company’s performance against GRI indicators and demonstrates the link between the company’s sustainability strategy and its commitment to sustainable global development.
“Stock exchanges and governments across the globe are bringing in new layers of regulation for environmental, social and governance disclosure.
“Aurecon is not listed on the stock exchange but, because it’s the right thing to do, we have committed to reporting and disclosure to set an example for our clients, peers, sub-consultants and others in our supply chain. Our sustainability report extends far beyond CESA’s requirements,” says de Klerk.
The new tool is currently in pilot phase and open to companies in Colombia, Ghana, Indonesia, Peru, South Africa and Vietnam. Watch this video about the programme.
Long history of advancing sustainability reporting
The recent announcement builds on a long-standing partnership and many collaborative efforts with the GRI. In 2015, Aurecon became an Organisational Stakeholder of the GRI (now GRI Gold Community), joining over 600 leading organisations from 60 countries that are committed to advancing sustainability reporting.
As a GRI Gold Community Member, Aurecon contributes to knowledge, resources, skills and tools that companies need in order to enhance the way in which they report on their sustainability initiatives.
“Becoming an Organisational Stakeholder had already been a big step for us but we soon progressed to host the South Africa launch event of the GRI’s Sustainability Reporting Standards in 2016.
This led South Africa to become an early adopter of the global standards. Now that we’ve transformed Aurecon’s sustainable reporting, we’re excited to feed this knowledge and know-how further into our supply chains.
“Instead of businesses being forced into sustainability reporting, we are giving them the tools and training they need to empower themselves in the very noble venture of sustainability reporting.
“We’re looking beyond our organisation to make sustainability reporting business as usual for all,” concludes de Klerk.