Exciting things are happening in sustainability reporting at Resolute Forest Products, and we wanted to share some of that great news. Our Corporate Sustainability Committee met recently to discuss our move to a new reporting strategy, updates to material issues and exciting developments to increase the accountability and transparency of Resolute’s sustainability reporting.
Since 2008, Resolute has tracked and reported on a range of environmental, economic and social performance indicators that are externally validated and posted online for public review. Following a thorough review of audience needs and industry best practices, we will be restructuring the sustainability section of our website to fill the role of a GRI-compliant report, along with the inclusion of a significant sustainability section in our annual report, released each April.
At Resolute, we’re proud to have produced three GRI-compliant sustainability reports in the past few years, increasing our scope and coverage of indicators with each report. By streamlining the production of the sustainability report and moving towards web-based GRI-compliant reporting, we hope to ensure up-to-date and easily accessible information for the broadest possible audience.
We will continue to report on material issues, progress on public commitments and a wide variety of other pertinent environmental, social and economic considerations in the sustainability section of our annual report – to be released in April 2015. This sustainability section also helps demonstrate our strong belief that economic growth, like the profits we present to shareholders, goes hand in hand with environmental sustainability and a deep commitment to community development over the long term.
While this sustainability section will contain much of the same information as a GRI-compliant report, the rigorous data validation and auditing process required by the Global Reporting Initiative necessitates a bit more time to process key performance indicators collected at the end of the fiscal year in December 2014. You can expect to see plenty of informative, relevant and GRI-compliant sustainability content uploaded to our website as it becomes available, with aims to publish an index linking that content to GRI specifications in summer 2015.
Moving to a 2-year reporting cycle
This brings us to our next big change in reporting strategy: We are following the lead of other top-tier corporate sustainability reporting companies to provide the performance information that our readers want by moving to a biannual GRI reporting cycle. The GRI index will be produced and filed every two years to include comprehensive environmental, social and economic data from the previous three years. Updated information will continue to be published on our website as it becomes available, ensuring the content remains current and available to stakeholders.
Materiality – what, why and which?
At Resolute, we are committed to company-wide sustainability, transparency and strong community relations as part of our own vision and values and also because of input from our valued customers, First Nations, NGO partners and members of the communities where we work. As part of this commitment, we conducted a materiality assessment in 2010 to identify key monitoring and reporting issues for our stakeholders and recently completed an issue update to see how things have changed and how concerns have evolved.
In 2010, during Resolute’s first assessment, diverse material issues like greenhouse gas emissions, information sharing with communities and employee safety were identified, leading to the development of reporting procedures, internal goals for improvement and, eventually, public commitments to reflect our intentions for further progress. Some notable achievements from this first set of issues include a 67.5% reduction in CO2 emissions, world-class safety performance, and the implementation of information-sharing community committees at the majority of company sites.
Three new material issues identified in 2013 will be included in our upcoming evaluations
In 2013, working with an independent third party, Resolute was able to add to the list of 16 material issues 3 new categories for a total of 19 areas of high interest and impact for our stakeholders. This update reflects the changing interests and priorities of our key stakeholders, including people who live in the communities where we operate, customers and ENGO representatives.
The first new issue, environmental regulatory compliance, is of obvious importance for a company like Resolute that prides itself on sustainable management plans and high environmental standards. Despite our long tradition of below-industry-average annual infraction rates, we wanted to make sure that regulatory infractions, and the fines they are associated with, are closely monitored. That’s why in 2009, Resolute implemented a zero-tolerance policy for forestry infractions and has since reduced its infraction rate to 1.25 per year, none of which have had environmental consequences.
As external stakeholders expressed great interest in this issue last year, Resolute decided that more detailed reporting was necessary to ensure balanced and fact-based discussions. As such, it was immediately slated for inclusion in subsequent reports and targeted with the public commitment published last year in our annual report:
First Nations relations and economic partnerships, our second recently added material issue, was discussed in detail during the assessment process. Although this important topic was ranked as moderately material in our first assessment back in 2010, we recognize the increased importance, which is aligned with our extensive and growing partnerships with First Nations communities.
Specific recommendations from community members, NGOs and customers included prioritizing employment opportunities, training and business opportunities for First Nations, along with meaningful dialogues to achieve our common goals of ensuring that our forests continue to provide for future generations. We monitor and nurture these relationships through public consultations and high-level cooperative agreements with First Nations representatives to foster collaborative approaches and sustainable economic activities, all of which will be discussed in our upcoming annual report and updated website.
Our latest new material issue, transparency and communication, is really a call-to-action to improve the monitoring, analysis and disclosure of Resolute’s activities across all sectors.
Our move towards a biannual, online GRI-compliant report is one of many ways we are addressing stakeholder interest in transparency and communication. Resolute is proud to have produced three GRI-compliant sustainability reports in the past few years, increasing the coverage and scope of indicators as time goes on, but we wanted to go even further in sharing current information with broad audiences through the use of web-based reporting tools. We are committed to continuing our clear reporting process, binding our indicators to material issues identified by stakeholders and ensuring that our outputs address the concerns and interests of diverse groups. Also on deck for 2015 is the development of proactive sustainability communication tools for use in sales, community outreach and other domains to describe, demonstrate and document our environmental, social and economic performance, dedication to continuous improvement across all operations, and evolving partnerships with communities, First Nations, NGOs and other groups. These communication tools will help continue the sustainability conversation started on our website and in our annual report, opening the door to comments and questions from those whose opinions we value most – stakeholders like you.