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Every Sustainability Acronym, Explained

jennifer boynton headshotWords by Jen Boynton
Leadership & Transparency
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We often hear that sustainability is a hot mess of acronyms that are intimidating to newcomers. We agree. Here's a comprehensive list of acronyms and abbreviations every sustainability professional should know.

Agenda 21
A non-binding, voluntarily-implemented action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development.

AODP
The Asset Owners Disclosure Project survey of investors on climate actions

BCI
The Better Cotton Initiative, guidance on fair labor and sustainable cotton production

B Corp
B Corp, or B Corporation, is a business certification from B Labs.

Sometimes people call Benefit Corporations "B corps," too. A benefit corporation is a legal business construct, like an LLC or C Corp, except it has sustainability at its core.

BREEAM
Building Research Establishment Global's Environmental Assessment Method for green building

BSR BSR is a global nonprofit organization with member companies and a widely attended annual conference.

CCS
Carbon capture and storage (or sequester) projects

CDP
Formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project (now just CDP); issues corporate surveys on climate change, water and forestry, with additional supply chain reporting guidance.

CDSB
Climate Disclosure Standards Board; provides guidance on climate reporting, and proposed stock exchange listing rule on climate emissions reporting.

CITES
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

CO2e
Carbon dioxide equivalent -- frequently used in emissions reporting.

COP
Communication on progress -- a reporting requirement of being a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact.

CSR or CR
Corporate social responsibility or corporate responsibility, commonly used interchangeably

DFPRW
Declaration on fundamental principals and rights to work

DJSI
Dow Jones Sustainability Index

EEIC
Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition: a code of conduct for the electronics supply chain

EIA
Environmental Impact Assessment

EPD
Environmental product declaration

ESG
Environment, social and governance disclosure. Used interchangeably with CSR.

FiT Feed-in tariff, the price renewable energy generators are paid by utility companies for their energy

FLA
Fair Labor Association

FSC
Forest Stewardship Council, creates standards for sustainably-harvested woods and fibers.

FT
Fair Trade

G3/G3.1
Global reporting initiative's third generation of sustainability reporting guidelines

G4
Global reporting initiative's fourth generation of sustainability reporting guidelines
(for more info check out our courses)

GEP
Gender equality principals

GHGP
Greenhouse gas protocol for emissions reporting

GIIRS
Global impact investing rating system; third-party ratings for impact investments

GISR
Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings

GRI
Global Reporting Initiative

ILO 
International Labor Organization core labor standards

IR/IIRC
Integrated reporting framework of the International Integrated Reporting Council

ISO 14001
International Standards Organization's Environmental Management System

ISO 26000
ISO social responsibility standard

ISO 31000
ISO risk management standard

IUCN

International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find
pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges

See also ICUN Red List of threatened species

KPI
Key performance indicator

LCA
Lifecycle assessment or Lifecycle analysis

LEED
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for green buildings

MDGs
United Nations Millennium Development Goals

OSHA
U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration, provides standards for workplace safety

RECs
Renewable Energy Credits -- similar to carbon offsets, but just for renewable energy

REDD
Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, a U.N. forestry program

RSPO
Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

SASB
Sustainability Accounting Standards Board; offers sustainability accounting standards by industry

SEA
Strategic Environmental Assessment

SFI
Sustainable Forestry Initiative

SDGs
U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

SRI Socially responsible investing

ULE
UL Environment, a standards board

UNDHR
United Nations Declaration on Human Rights

UNGC
U.N. Global Compact; companies endorse and report on their progress in meeting 10 CSR principals

USGBC
U.S. Green Building Council; responsible for the LEED standard for green building

VCS
Verified carbon standard, carbon offset certification body

 

Bonus lists for related industries

Clean Energy Finance 101 from the Yale Center for Business and the Environment Glossary of Energy Efficiency Terms from Conservation Energy Group Energy Education
For the science behind the energy sector from the University of Calgary

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All right, you made it this far. What am I missing? Tweet @jenboynton to send me your suggestions, and I'll add them to the list!

h/t to Tracey Rembert who shared a version of this list with Ceres participants

Image credit: DAVID MELCHOR DIAZ, Flickr

Jen Boynton headshotJen Boynton

Jen Boynton is the former Editor-in-Chief of TriplePundit. She has an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School and has helped organizations including SAP, PwC and Fair Trade USA with their sustainability communications messaging. She is based in San Diego, California. When she's not at work, she volunteers as a CASA (court appointed special advocate) for children in the foster care system. She enjoys losing fights with toddlers and eating toast scraps. She lives with her family in sunny San Diego.

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