Sustainability key words and acronyms

We explain 28 of the key acronyms, abbreviations and buzzwords used in Sustainability and Business discussions with our clients.

Getting your head wrapped around the terms, phrases, keywords, acronyms or abbreviations in sustainability can be overwhelming. We have put together a list of the ones we come across and use often to help you on your sustainability journey.

Accident frequency rate is the formula for calculating your accident frequency rate is the number of reported accidents multiplied by 200,000, divided by the number of employee hours worked.

Business continuity planning is the process a company undergoes to create a prevention and recovery system from potential threats such as natural disasters or cyber-attacks.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an important heat-trapping (greenhouse) gas, which is released through human activities such as deforestation and burning fossil fuels, as well as natural processes such as respiration and volcanic eruptions.

Conference of the Parties is a global summit on climate change that brings together over 200 world leaders from countries who have signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The purpose of the event is to discuss and agree what nations are doing regarding to Climate change.

Continuing professional development is the term used to describe the learning activities professionals engage in to develop and enhance their abilities.

Corporate Social Responsibility refers to the efforts made by a company to improve society and contribute towards sustainable development.

Disaster recovery Plan to ensure the timely recovery of information technology assets and services following a catastrophe, such as fire, flood or hardware failure.

Environmental Impact Assessment is one of the environmental assessment tools being used worldwide to provide decision-makers and the concerned public with essential information to plan for environmentally sustainable economic development.

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

Forest Stewardship Council certifies forests all over the world to ensure they meet the highest environmental and social standards. Products made with wood and paper from FSC forests are marked with a ‘tick tree’ logo.

Global reporting initiative’s fourth generation of sustainability reporting guidelines.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information from individuals who live in the European Union.

Green House Gas emissions An atmospheric gas, such as water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide that absorbs and emits radiation produced by solar warming of the Earth’s surface.

Global Reporting Initiative. The GRI Framework is the standard structure used by companies around the world to report sustainability data. This framework is the de facto standard for sustainability reporting.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It prevents work-related death, injury and ill health. HSE: Information about health and safety at work

The injury frequency rate (IFR) is a way of measuring how often injuries occur in the workplace in a way that can be compared with other worksites or other jobs within the workplace in context.

International Standards Organisation. Relevant Standards in Sustainability include, ISO 14001 – Environmental Management System, ISO 26000 – Social responsibility standard and ISO 31000 – Risk management standard.

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator. In sustainability reporting, KPIs are the most meaningful elements that your organization decides to report and track and are usually used to develop improvement goals. Good KPIs will be material, measurable, improvable, and important to stakeholders.

Life Cycle Analysis or Life Cycle Assessment that refers to measurement of the complete environmental impact of a given product or service. The purpose of LCA is to present a “cradle-to-grave” perspective on impacts from raw materials, manufacture, usage, transportation and disposal.

Objectives and key results (OKR) is a goal-setting framework for defining and tracking objectives and their outcomes.

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

Scope 1/2/3
Scope 1: Direct Greenhouse Gas Emissions come from sources that are owned or controlled by the reporting entity. This could be the emissions that are directly created by manufacturing goods, for example, factory fumes.

Scope 2: Indirect Emissions from electricity purchased and used by the organisation. Emissions are created during the production of the energy and eventually used by the organisation.

Scope 3: All Other Indirect Emissions from activities of the organisation, occurring from sources that they do not own or control. These are usually the greatest share of the carbon footprint, covering emissions associated with business travel, procurement, waste and water.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations (UN) Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. THE 17 GOALS | Sustainable Development (

Stress risk assessment. Employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it. If you have fewer than five employees you don’t have to write anything down.

Socially responsible investing (SRI), also known as social investment, is an investment that is considered socially responsible due to the nature of the business the company conducts. Common themes for socially responsible investments include socially conscious investing.

National Social Value Network – Themes, Outcomes and Measures It sets out the expectations for central government construction projects, from commissioning and procurement, through to delivery and decommission.

Triple Bottom Line (TBL) is a theory that states that companies should make efforts to capture social as well as environmental prospects in its primary objectives, along with the goal of earning profits.

The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.

Get in touch if you would like to know more or we can help build your sustainable business framework.


Subscribe to our newsletter

Get sustainable business updates and latest thinking*

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
*No SPAM. Ever.
Scroll to Top