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Sustainability & ESG: glossary



Sustainability: the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.

Navigating through the acronyms and technical terminology associated with climate change and environmental crises can be time-consuming but staying current with emerging terms and concepts is really important for effective collaboration.

Some key sustainability terms and acronyms you may find useful:

  • Benchmark: a standard or point of reference against which performance or achievements can be assessed.
  • Biodiversity: the variety of plant and animal life in a particular habitat, ecosystem, or on Earth as a whole.
  • Carbon footprint: the total amount of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, emitted directly or indirectly by an individual, organisation, event, or product.
  • Circular economy: an economic model that prioritises the continual use and recycling of resources, minimising waste and reducing environmental impact.
  • Climate action: efforts and initiatives taken to reduce or mitigate the impact of climate change, including measures to limit greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to changing environmental conditions.
  • Environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria: a set of standards investors use to evaluate a company's performance in areas such as environmental impact, social responsibility and corporate governance.
  • Greenwashing: misleading or deceptive practices by companies, organisations, or individuals to convey a false impression of environmental responsibility.
  • Net zero: achieving a balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere, resulting in no net increase in overall emissions.
  • Renewable energy: energy derived from sources that are naturally replenished, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat.
  • Science-based targets (SBTs): goals set by companies or entities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in alignment with the latest climate science, aiming to limit global temperature rise and mitigate climate change.
  • Sustainability: meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In the context of business, it often addresses economic, social and environmental considerations to prevent the depletion of natural or physical resources, so that they will remain available for the long term.


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