Each area has its own terminology and CSR is no exception. This glossary is intended as a tool to interpret the information given by the media and understand the language associated with corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability.
This is a standard developed in 1999 by the Institute of Social and Ethical Accountability, which identifies some guidelines to be observed in the social reporting process, with the aim of making the organization accountable, that is to say capable of giving answers and of taking responsibility for its own actions towards stakeholders. Stakeholder engagement is the main aspect of the AA1000 standard.
This is the company’s capacity to report in a transparent manner to stakeholders on its activities, assuming responsibility for that.
This expression means the systematic comparison with the best practices in a given context to identify areas of improvement.
An initiative or a successful project that can be considered as reference experience.
The richness of animal and plant species living in a given environment.
The “green building” was born in response to major environmental issues for which building activity has a heavy responsibility in affecting, according to estimates, about one third of the total energy consumption in the world. The reduction of energy requirements for heating/cooling buildings and the choice of insulating materials and construction equipment are particularly important, inasmuch as it affects the environment and health of the inhabitants. The “green building” seeks to develop new building ethics that recognize the fundamental relationship between the built-up environment and the natural environment. The achievement of this goal can be helped both by clients and designers with the aim of changing the market through sustainable choices.
The term biomass refers to substances of non-fossil animal and vegetable origin, which can be used as fuel for energy production. The biomass used for energy purposes is considered a renewable energy source, some examples of which are: waste from wood processing, wood from fast growing plants (willow, poplar), agricultural waste (straw, manure); waste from sugar crops (beet, cane sugar), cereal crops (wheat, corn), oilseeds (rapeseed, sunflower), domestic waste and industrial effluents (especially food industry).
CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2)
Colorless, odourless, non-toxic and non-flammable, present in the atmosphere with a concentration of about 300ppm under normal conditions. It is an essential substance in the life process of animals and plants and is - after water vapour - the main greenhouse gas in the atmosphere (77% of total). It is the greenhouse gas with most harmful effects because it takes a very long time to dissolve. It is used as a reference point to define the global warming potential of all other greenhouse gases. The increase in the concentration of this gas in the atmosphere due to human activity over the past two centuries is primarily responsible for the greenhouse effect.
CDP (CARBON DISCLOSURE PROJECT)
The CDP is an initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation Philantrophy Advisors, set up to encourage companies to give more importance to carbon dioxide emissions and, at the same time, to help institutional investors to investigate properly the impact of climate change on the value of their portfolio. The CDP is studying the value of the portfolio in terms of potential risks and opportunities posed by climate change and is a unique and effective method of collecting information useful for the assessment of their impact on the market value of companies.
Long-term change in climatic conditions, in particular the amount of rainfall, temperature and the seasons in which atmospheric phenomena occur. Climate change may be due to:
natural factors, such as changes in solar radiation due to minor alterations in the Earth's orbit around the sun;
natural processes in the climate system (eg. changes in ocean circulation, such as the so-called phenomenon of "El Niño");
human activities that change the atmosphere's composition (e.g. through burning fossil fuels) and the land surface (e.g. deforestation, reforestation, urbanization, desertification, etc.) and thus albedo.
Even if the majority of greenhouse gases is formed naturally, from the onset of industrial revolution at the beginning of 18th century, anthropogenic greenhouse gases (produced by human activity) have been continuously increasing and they can no longer have a natural compensation, resulting in an unusually rapid earth warming. For this reason we normally refers to the greenhouse effect with a negative meaning. The 1990's were the warmest decade of the last 1,000 years. According to the UN climate experts, the average temperature of the planet will increase by 1.4° C - 5.8° C by the year 2100.
The CO2 equivalent emissions represent the emissions of any greenhouse gases weighted according to their contribution to the greenhouse effect compared with CO2, which is the reference parameter with value 1. For example, methane has a greenhouse potential 21 times greater than CO2, and thus one ton of methane is accounted for as 21 tons of CO2 equivalent.
CODE OF ETHICS
It is a sort of constitutional charter of the company, which, starting from the shared values, outlines the principles of conduct relating to the relationship with each stakeholder. It is an official document, approved by the Management Board, which commits senior management and all employees and extends the corporate governance rules from the sphere of traditional relations with shareholders and investors to the most comprehensive with all stakeholders.
Cogeneration is the simultaneous production (in the same plant and from a single fuel) of electricity and heat, which implies significant energy savings compared to the traditional separate production as well as a reduction in emissions.
The manner in which an organisation is governed and how it deals with the various interests of its customers, shareholders, employees and society at large.
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
The European Commission's Green Paper "Promoting a European framework for Corporate Social Responsibility" defines CSR 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. [...] Being socially responsible means not only fulfilling legal expectations, but also going beyond compliance and investing ‘more’ into human capital, the environment and the relations with stakeholders”.
Corporate welfare means the range of traditional and innovative solutions in response to specific areas of needs and interests of employees, providing them with services, initiatives and projects to enhance their wellbeing and also to improve the quality of life of their families.
Diversity Management is a conscious approach to the management of diversity within an organization, such as cultural, ethnic, age, gender, etc., in order to evaluate it as an agent of innovation and performance improvement.
DOW JONES SUSTAINABILITY INDEX
Launched in 1999 and based on the cooperation of Dow Jones Indexes and SAM, the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes are the first global indexes tracking the financial performance of the leading sustainability-driven companies worldwide. They include only the leading companies in each sector according to various sustainability parameters. Each year SAM invites the biggest 3000 companies in the world, subdivided into 24 sectors, to refer on their sustainability performance. The result of the Corporate Sustainability Assessment provides a detailed analysis of the economic, environmental and social achievements, as well as of corporate governance, with particular attention paid to specific risks and opportunities in all sectors.