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Dubai Chamber’s latest newsletter reviews the materiality of sustainability risk management

The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Centre for Responsible Business has published the first issue of CSR Al Youm newsletter for 2012 which reviews a number of important topics including the use of sustainability as a platform for risk management, the habits of high efficient companies in the area of energy efficiency and a special report on materiality in corporate social responsibility.

The newsletter points out that a number of companies are increasingly feeling the need to use sustainability as a platform for risk management due to the benefits derived including enhanced decision-making capacity by adopting sustainable practices, receiving a wealth of insight, knowledge and intelligence on current risks and opportunities, managing stakeholder expectations with greater confidence while it also provides a framework and principles for innovation.

Also, the article enlists an action plan that may be followed to integrate sustainability risk management with other disciplines of risk management including integrating sustainability into the organisation’s strategy and risk management policy, obtaining the commitment of the Board and making the CEO accountable and integrating data from various sources to determine the maturity of environmental, social and economic sustainability management and setting targets such as carbon footprint reduction and increase in CSR spend.

Other procedures suggested are identifying sustainability risks, developing plans for reducing environmental exposures or impacts, anticipating competitor actions, and implementing social and environmentally driven strategies while also Sustainability Scorecards, such as the JSE’s SRI Index may be implemented for measuring the performance of the three pillars of sustainability management.

Also featured is another article on the habits of high efficient companies which reveals that the UAE has one of the highest ecological footprints per capita in the world as 80% of this ecological footprint is due to carbon dioxide emissions from high energy and water consumption. Business and industry in the UAE contributes to 30% of this ecological footprint, yet companies are becoming more aware than ever of the significant environmental impact their operations have, informs the article.

It offers some suggestions including the adoption of efficiency as an integrated part of corporate strategic planning and risk assessment, involving senior management in the strategy while making it public through branding, forming of committees to oversee the entire project, assigning peer champions, using public meetings, websites and email and to offer prizes to individuals or teams who have achieved the greatest degree of energy reduction.

In a special report on materiality in CSR, the newsletter suggests that not everything can be a top priority as material issues can run into hundreds of issues. In a company analysis, a number of issues were assessed and ranked according to several criteria, including, for example, potential impact on revenue, brand and reputation, employee engagement and the ability to deliver their products to customers.

The article defines some of the priority issues in the high concern category, ranging from climate change, public policy, water strategy, vehicle safety and supply chain sustainability. It also gives tips for determining materiality by engaging senior management to consider CSR risks and opportunities, considering all aspects of the business while forming a CSR committee with staff who have expertise in labour, identify issues that reflect the company’s significant economic, environmental and social impacts, and prioritise the importance of the issue and its potential impact on external stakeholders.

The newsletter also covers other related topics like the organising of the Dubai Dialogue Responsibility Matters by the Dubai Chamber Centre for Responsible Business on May 22 covering the topic of driving sustainability forward through smart business planning. The dialogue will contribute in developing an integrated approach to embed CSR and sustainability within the corporate business strategy.

Dr. Belaid Rettab, Senior Director, Economic Research and Sustainable Business Development Sector, Dubai Chamber, said: “The CSR Al Youm is an important tool for us to communicate our messages about the importance of CSR and sustainability to the business community while raising awareness of the concept which ultimately helps improve the operational performance and moral of the practising organisation.”

The Centre for Responsible Business was established in 2004 by Dubai Chamber to foster corporate integrity and to promote Dubai as the region’s gateway for global commerce by promoting transparency and rule of law. It is the leading centre of expertise in business ethics and corporate social responsibility in Dubai.

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