Empowering Impactful Sustainability Reporting with materiality, metrics and impact
The 2021 update to GRI Standards for identifying material topics challenges organisations to be clear about both their negative and positive impacts. With bold ambitions for its sustainability approach, Contact looked for support to reshape its metrics to highlight impact and system value, rather than the amount of activities undertaken.
"Proxima challenged us with helpful feedback and an approach that guided us to develop metrics that were authentically aligned with what our business really wants to achieve through its work on sustainability. This work has helped ensure, our material topics are informing our strategy more effectively, as well as front and centre in our reporting."
Kim Kelleher - Sustainability and Community Manager at Contact
The project had two inter-related objectives:
Review and refresh material sustainability impacts for annual reporting in line with the GRI Standards.
Develop strategy aligned metrics for high-priority material topics, as a first step to ensuring metrics support the pursuit of ideal long-term outcomes for net positive impact.
Proxima reviewed priority material topics through expert interviews. Objective and informed experts were chosen to provide feedback. Interviews provided feedback on Contact’s performance and reviewed the significance of both negative and positive impacts in the relevant areas.
To align future work on priority material topics with the company's long-term vision for positive impact as set out in its ESG strategy, we used an impact logic methodology. This approach worked backwards from ideal long-term outcomes and impact to connect with the most suitable metrics and available data in the short to medium term. This approach will enable Contact to follow a stepping-stone evolution of its metrics over time aligned with its strategy.
Process and Implementation
Interviews with four experts in areas deemed high-priority by Contact Energy covered community relationships, customer energy wellbeing, renewable energy trends and climate change impacts and biodiversity. The interviews were supplemented by four internal workshops covering climate change and renewables; biodiversity and broader environmental impacts; energy hardship and wellbeing; and tangata whenua relationships.
Separate internal workshops were also held to explore the development of impact metrics. Initial workshops used an online Mural board to explore current available metrics, potential future metrics and the ideal outcomes that the metrics should support achievement of. This initial information was then used to populate a templated impact logic methodology to develop short, medium, and long-term outcomes aligned with the difference Contact is seeking to make in each area.
Results, Outcomes, and Impact
The review of material topics helped Contact consolidate its final refreshed list from 20 to 12 topics, in a way that will support action and communication in those areas where the company has its most significant impacts, both positive and negative.
By empowering Contact Energy to articulate its desired outcomes and value more clearly through impact metrics, implementation of the company's ESG strategy will be more focused in those areas where the company wants to make a difference. The metrics will also support future reporting to show progress on the most relevant and impactful issues.