As a Sustainability Consultancy, here at Global Bright Futures we are often asked questions such as: How do I become a sustainable business? What is a sustainability strategy? How does my business become more sustainable? Even more frequently, we are asked to clarify or explain what certain sustainability terms or jargon mean. So, we have created a Sustainability Glossary of Terms here to bring clarity to some of the main terms that we are asked about, and what they mean.

We have listed in an A-Z format, so that you can easily find the term you want to know more about.

Bio-Diversity – The variety of life in plants, species and ecosystems found on Earth.

Carbon Footprint – Is an estimated measurement of the amount of Carbon Dioxide that is produced annually and emitted into the atmosphere by the direct and indirect actions of individuals, households, buildings, companies, cities, communities or countries.

Child Labour – The exploitation of children to engage in economic activity, on a part-time or full-time basis, and which deprives children of their childhood development.

Circular Economy – Creating a system of production for goods that is designed and developed to reduce waste and regenerate the use of the resources used in production, which are then able to be recycled and used to produce another product. (Sometimes referred to as Circularity of production).

Closed Loop Recycling – Collecting and capturing the components of products and putting them back into the production process to produce further goods.

Climate Change – A significant change in measurements (such a temperature, precipitation), relating to the climate which has occurred for an extended period of time.

Climate Smart Agriculture(CSA) – The World Bank definition is ‘an integrated approach to managing landscapes, cropland, livestock, forests and fisheries–that address the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change’. (CSA) describes agricultural practises aimed at adapting to Climate Change, mitigating the impact of agriculture on climate whilst maintaining and increasing productivity, and by integrating economic, social and environmental aspects in the development of agriculture in a sustainable way.

Complete Capital Accounting(CCA) – System for everything to be included within a set of calculations that a business requires and generates within the whole of their direct and indirect business activities, of which the costs and benefits are not normally captured within a traditional Profit and Loss account system.

Direct/1st Tier Suppliers – The supplier of goods or services that are directly provided to an organisation.

Energy Efficiency – Reduction in the amount of energy required to provide products and services.

EPA – Environmental Protection Agency

ESOS-The Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme – Mandatory UK Government Scheme to increase the awareness of energy consumption for organisations, who then act by reducing energy usage which will lower their energy bills and can contribute to lower carbon emissions in the UK.

Gender Equality – Equal ease of access to resources and opportunities regardless of sex.

Global Warming – An increase in the average temperature in the atmosphere and The Earth’s surface, and which can contribute to the changes in global climate patterns.

Indirect / 2nd, 3rd, 4th… Tier Suppliers – The supplier of goods or services that are indirectly provided to an organisation through another supplier of intermediary within their chain or source of supply.

Linear Economy – A traditional model of producing goods which takes new resources to make goods, which are discarded at the end of the product life-cycle. (take, make, dispose model), rather than regenerating as in a circular economy approach.

Land ErosionThe degradation of the upper layer of soil on land, which is eroded or moved from one place to another.

Modern Slavery – Is the recruitment, movement, harbouring or receiving of children, women or men through the use of force, coercion, abuse of vulnerability, deception or other means for the purpose of exploitation.

Natural Capital – The stock of all the natural resources on our planet, includes all natural resources, geology, soil, air, water and all living organisms

Natural Capital Accounting – Calculation of the total stocks of all natural resources and services in a given ecosystem.

Organic Farming – Growing and production of plants and animals for food and other products without using artificial chemicals

Recycling – The control of materials at disposal to allow for the reuse of their components and materials.

Regenerative Agriculture – Conservation and rehabilitation approach to farming methods focusing on soil health and topsoil preservation, protecting biodiversity & ecosystems, increasing resilience to the effects of climate change, improving water use and composting.

Soil Erosion – The degradation of the upper layer of topsoil on land.

Supply chain – A system consisting of resources, activities, organisations, people, information which moves a product or service from suppliers to customers, in an onward chain, transforming resources and components into a finished product for the end customer.

Sustainable – The practises and actions of people (& businesses) that are not causing harm, permanent damage or change that is detrimental to the environment, ecosystems, species or resources that are sourced from our planet (our natural resources), and that are capable of being sustained for future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainability – Meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainability includes three main pillars: environmental, social and economic, often also referred to as planet, people and profit.

Sustainable Agriculture – Farming using more sustainable methods to meet the food and textile needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, promoting farming practises that are profitable (economic profit), beneficial to the environment (environmental stewardship) and communities (socially responsible).

Sustainable Development – The UN definition is “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) –The SDG’s are The UN Blueprint ‘to achieve a better and more sustainable future’. These 17 goals target specific areas around sustainable development with the aim that each of these can be achieved by 2030. The goals have been identified to address the specific global challenges facing us as a whole.

Sustainability Strategy – A structure within an organisation which forms a key part of their overall business strategy, and that is developed to focus on the sustainability actions to be implemented within the organisation with the overall aim to create long-term stakeholder value.

Traceability – Verifiable. The ability to be traced and verified (as in along a supply or value chain or at various points within it).

Transparency – In a sustainability context means that more and better information, visibility and openness is provided around actions taken by an organisation. (For example, Supply chain Transparency would provide information related to supply chains to be more open and accessible to others).

Value Chain – Refers to the supply chain system of activities and which is adding value to the product or service from suppliers to customer in this onward chain.

Waste – Unwanted, unusable, discarded materials or resources that are disposed of after their primary use.

Water footprint –  Calculation made of the amount of water that is used both direct and indirect in production or the supply of goods and services throughout the entire production process to the end-user. (The water footprint can be further measured in more detail as Green, Blue and Grey).

Zero Waste – Encouraging the redesign of resources in product life cycles so that all products are reused, with the aim that no products and discarded and sent to landfill.










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