Giving Compass' Take:

Carter Roberts calls for corporate leadership to take on a leading role in the fight against climate change by holding new standards of accountability.

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The environmental movement in the United States reached its zenith in the 1960s with the passage of comprehensive regulations, and ensuing market responses, to protect our land, air and water. Increasing challenges to federal regulations and enforcement, combined with worsening reports on climate change and natural resource losses, raise the question: How can we ensure further progress by other means?

The country’s most influential investors and private sector leaders may hold the key, and it will require going beyond solving their own footprint. We need them to deepen internal and external systems of accountability against the goals they’ve set. We also need the private sector to engage governments to create the policy and governance systems needed to truly solve the problems of climate change and biodiversity loss. They can help us achieve the progress we seek by furthering the track record they have built in recent decades. It will mean adopting goals, reporting and metrics to solve larger environmental problems, not just a company’s particular piece of the puzzle.

We have identified three promising areas where investors, regulators or society can set stronger incentives for better reporting, metrics and accountability:

  1. Risk disclosure leading to action. We have seen growing demand to require companies to disclose information relevant to environmental, social and governance (ESG) impact.
  2. New skills and improved reporting on progress in areas of materiality. If investors urge companies to properly disclose risk, and trained analysts regularly insist on sustainability data, we should expect greater momentum for company boards and leadership to respond.
  3. Moving faster: from reporting to governance and execution. We see increasing results from companies that create strong executive and board ­level governance and management systems to act on the long­term risks to their business and to society.

Read the full article about next-generation corporate sustainability leadership by Carter Roberts at GreenBiz.