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CSRlive Commentary

04.28.2010 - 11:55AM

Category: Corporate Social Responsibility

CSRwire Member Spotlight: Ceres

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Ceres is the largest coalition of investors, environmental and public interest organizations in North America. Their mission is the pursuit of a global, sustainable economy, and they are a leading mediator between corporations and industries with regard to making governance transparent and confronting real environmental challenges.

Last month, Ceres released the 21st Century Corporation: The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability, which they define as “a vision and practical roadmap for integrating sustainability into the DNA of business”. Combining new ideas with research analysis, the Ceres Roadmap outlines a sustainable business strategy for the future.

The Roadmap contains a list of expectations (20 in number) that sustainable businesses must confront in order to contribute to, and practice successfully within, a global, environmentally sustainable economy. These expectations are organized into the categories: governance; stakeholder engagement; disclosure; and performance. These expectations are supplemented by a report on best practice examples represented by 200 companies across 20 sectors, as well as information about over 250 resources, be they specialists, organizations or theorists, across the globe.

On another front, we are seeing the results of Ceres’ leadership over the years through the groundbreaking new SEC guidelines requiring corporate disclosure with regard to climate change risks and opportunities that were established at the beginning of this year.

Ceres Sr. Manager of Investor Programs Jim Coburn noted, “Ceres worked alongside investors to petition the SEC to deliver guidance for companies reporting climate risks as part of their regular financial filings”.

These guidelines, which rigorously press publicly traded companies to disclose emissions management policies and climate change impacts to their investors, constitute “the first economy-wide climate risk disclosure requirement in the world”.

Ceres began working toward this landmark achievement in April of 2004. At that time, the company joined a community of 15 leading institutional investors who implored the SEC to “eliminate any doubt that publicly-traded companies should be disclosing the financial risks of global warming in their securities filings”. Over the following years, in partnership with numerous sustainable business practice and environmental advocates, Ceres has educated the public about how climate change fits into companies’ disclosure requirements, as well as petitioned the SEC itself to take action.

Still more recently, Ceres was delighted to announce that leading U.S. investors had filed a record number 99 climate-related resolutions for the year.

Ceres’ role in this exciting development is significant. Rob Berridge Senior Manager of Investor Programs explains:

“Investors are increasingly concerned about ESG disclosure and the sustainability performance of the companies in which they have holdings. Ceres helps coordinate these shareholder filings on climate change and other sustainability issues”.

At the forefront of Ceres news is their upcoming conference on sustainability in Boston. Ceres is advertising the Ceres Conference 2010: Roadmap for a Sustainable Future as an opportunity for interested parties to “explore what it takes to scale sustainable solutions exponentially across entire business models, products and services”. The conference will “examine what is needed to achieve sweeping change at a time of unprecedented global challenges”. The above-described Roadmap For Sustainability will serve as a prototype for the content of the conference. All organizations concerned with sustainable business practice of the 21st century are encouraged to attend the conference. Online registration is now closed. On site registration for the Ceres Conference 2010 will begin on Wednesday, May 5 at 7 AM at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel.

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