Media release: Net-zero criteria set the course to transition for Business Council for Sustainable

27 May 2021


Australian member organisations of the Business Council for Sustainable Development today marked the organisation’s 30th anniversary by announcing the adoption of a set of science-based membership criteria aligning Australian businesses with the transition to net-zero emissions.

Australia will be the first international Network Partner of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) to embed the membership conditions focussing on climate emergency, nature loss and inequality, effective 1 July 2021.

BCSD Australia’s chief executive Andrew Petersen said: “The adoption of the science-based criteria is the membership’s commitment to turn ambitions into concrete actions.

Five Science-Based Criteria 1. Set an ambition to reach net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, no later than 2050 and have a science-informed plan to achieve it.

2. Set ambitious, science-informed, short and mid-term environmental goals that contribute to nature/biodiversity recovery by 2050.

3. Declare support for the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by having in place a policy to respect human rights and a human rights due diligence process.

4. Declare support for inclusion, equality, diversity and the elimination of any form of discrimination.

5. Operate at the highest level of transparency by disclosing material sustainability information in line with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and align Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) with environmental, social and governance-related (ESG) risks. The set-up and implementation of the new criteria involves BCSD Australia’s publicly listed and large corporate members preparing their companies over the next 18 months to be able to adhere to the membership criteria by or before 30 December 2022. Government, Philanthropic, and SME Members will also look to adopt the criteria. The criteria apply to all businesses that apply for membership after 1 July 2021.

BCSD member companies are encouraged to apply the highest standards in corporate governance and transparency, aimed at enhancing the comparability of data for shareholders, investors and other stakeholders. During the 18 months BCSD members will be supported with insights and resources on leading practice to bring these criteria into their risk assessment and strategic decision-making processes.

From 1 January 2023, adherence will be monitored through the WBCSD “Reporting matters” project, which assesses BCSD Australia member’s reports on a yearly basis and has done so over the last 3 years. Reporting matters is a publicly available report.

Andrew Petersen CEO of BCSD Australia since 2011, notes: “Since we started in 1991, we have been a committed group of businesses and organisations that are serious about demonstrating true leadership for sustainable development. In our 30th year, we determined to align our membership conditions with the urgent challenges facing our society.

“The inclusion of the five new criteria will ensure our member companies focus on implementing credible science-based action plans ultimately to transform our economic systems – it marks an important moment for responsible business.”

"In spite of the pressures during this pandemic BCSD Australia members are pushing for more sustainable leadership and action. Businesses are well aware of the greater challenges looming ahead and are willing to tackle them urgently and collectively, to create a world in which all nine+ billion people can live well within the boundaries of our planet.”