This glossary has been designed to help accountants decode the many terms and acronyms encountered when researching sustainability.

A - B

Term Description Website
A4S The Prince's Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) was established by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2004. Its aim is to make sustainable decision making business as usual. Chartered Accountants Ireland work with A4S on its many initiatives, as part of the Accounting Bodies Network (see also ABN) Read more
ABN The Accounting Bodies Network of A4S, was launched in 2004 by HRH The Prince of Wales. The Network's members are a prominent group of accounting bodies from across the globe, brought together to help achieve a common approach to accounting for sustainability. With a collective membership of 2.4 million accountants and accounting students in 181 countries, the Network represents two thirds of accountants worldwide. Chartered Accountants Ireland is one of the 16 member organisations of the ABN committed to challenging the conventional fundamentals of accounting and working to provide today’s, and tomorrow’s, decision makers with the information and skills they need to drive sustainable businesses, otherwise known as 'accounting for sustainability'. Read more
Bioeconomy The bioeconomy encompasses the production of renewable biological resources and their conversion into food, feed, bio-based products and bio-energy. It includes agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food, pulp and paper production, as well as parts of chemical, biotechnological and energy industries. Its sectors have a strong innovation potential to support Ireland's transition to a more integrated sustainable, low carbon economy, and Ireland's National Development Plan has highlighted its potential to support economic development and employment in rural Ireland. Read more
 Biodiversity The variety of life, including genetic, species and habitat/ecosystem diversity Read more
Blue Bonds Blue Bonds are a relatively new type of sustainability financing instrument whereby funds raised are earmarked exclusively for projects deemed ocean-friendly. The world’s first sovereign blue bond was issued in October 2018 by the Republic of Seychelles. It raised a total of $15 million to advance the small island state’s blue economy. The World Bank helped design the bond and vice president and treasurer Arunma Oteh said the blue bond was “yet another example of the powerful role of capital markets in connecting investors to projects that support better stewardship of the planet”.  Read more
Building Back Better Building Back Better signifies an ideal reconstruction and recovery process that delivers resilient, sustainable, and efficient recovery solutions to disaster affected communities.  The phrase became popular during the large scale reconstruction effort following the tsunami disaster in 2004. It is now used to describe the effort of rebuilding economies post-COVID-19 to take account of sustainability principles.  Read more
BITCI Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to CSR and Sustainability. It is a movement for sustainable change in business, and its purpose is to inspire and enable businesses to bring about a sustainable, low carbon economy and a more inclusive society where everyone thrives. It advises on sustainability and corporate social responsibility and provides access to best practice and support to businesses with practical management and monitoring systems. Read more


Term Description   Website


The total amount of greenhouse gas emissions released into the environment. There are many recognized methods to calculate a carbon footprint and a range of carbon calculator resources and carbon disclosure options available for businesses, institutions and local authorities. The EPA through its Resource Efficiency Programme offers a range of services, advice and guidance to businesses and institutions on reducing energy and other resources use while maintaining productivity. Both and have many resources, many of which are free for micro SMEs and SMEs. The total amount of carbon emissions, usually in metric tonnes per year (1 metric tonne equals 2204lbs), is then reported both internally and to the public as an indication of the amount of greenhouse gas the company produces.


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Carbon Offsetting


A carbon offset is a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for emissions made elsewhere. An example is where an air passenger pays to offset the emissions caused by their share of the flight’s emissions by investing in carbon reduction projects that generate carbon credits. 


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Carbon Pricing


A carbon price is a cost applied to carbon pollution to encourage polluters to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases they emit into the atmosphere.  Carbon pricing is held up as using the power of the market itself to incentivise consumers and firms to cut their emissions. As renewable energies - wind and solar - become cheaper and more widespread, carbon pricing will give more people a push to use renewables instead. Europe's carbon pricing scheme is the oldest in the world. 


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CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) is a non-profit that runs a global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions to manage their environmental impacts. Over 8,400 companies, 800 cities and 120 states and regions have reported through CDP on climate change, water security and deforestation. Each year, CDP takes the information obtained through its annual reporting process and scores companies and cities on their environmental performance. The Carbon Disclosure Project in Ireland is supported by the SEAI and the EPA and provides standardised international approach for carbon measurement and disclosure for businesses, institutions, cities and authorities.


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Circular Economy


A circular economy is an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources. This is opposed to a linear economy, which is built on the principles of ‘take, make and waste’, and is unsustainable.  The EU's Circular Economy Action Plan is one of the main blocks of the European Green Deal. The new Action Plan announces initiatives along the entire life cycle of products (design, processes, consumption, resources) and introduces legislative and non-legislative measures.

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Climate Action/Climate Action Plan


Climate action means stepped up efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions and strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate induced impacts. Ireland has a Climate Action Plan which sets out its course of action over the coming years to address this issue. It identifies the nature and scale of the challenge, outlining the current state of play across key sectors including electricity, transport, built environment, industry and agriculture and charts a course towards ambitious decarbonisation targets. It also sets out governance arrangements including carbon-proofing policies, establishment of carbon budgets, a strengthened Climate Change Advisory Council and greater accountability to the Oireachtas.


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Climate Disclosures Standards Board (CDSB)


The Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) is an international consortium of business and environmental NGOs that has set forth a framework for companies to report environmental and climate change-related information in their corporate financial reporting, such as the annual report. The organisation aims to enable companies to report environmental information with the same rigour as financial information in order to provide investors with decision-useful information to ensure resilient capital markets.


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Corporate Reporting Dialogue

The Corporate Reporting Dialogue is a platform, convened by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), to promote greater coherence, consistency and comparability between corporate reporting frameworks, standards and related requirements.

Its purpose is to strengthen cooperation, coordination and alignment between key standard setters and framework-developers that have a significant international influence on the corporate reporting landscape.


  • CDP
  • Climate Disclosure Standards Board
  • Financial Accounting Standards Board (observer)
  • Global Reporting Initiative
  • International Accounting Standards Board
  • International Integrated Reporting Council
  • International Organization for Standardization
  • Sustainability Accounting Standards Board. 
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Business in the Community Ireland (BITC) describes corporate social responsibility (or CSR) as referring to companies taking responsibility for their impact on society. It is a concept whereby enterprises integrate social and environmental concerns into their mainstream business operations on a voluntary basis. CSR goes beyond compliance with legislative requirements. It is a voluntary concept, which is led by business. It is a process which maximises the creation of shared value through collaboration with all stakeholders and ensures that the interests of enterprises and the interests of wider society are mutually supportive. Here is Chartered Accountants Ireland's staff CSR page.


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D - E

Term Description Website
Refers to the reduction or elimination of greenhouse gases from energy sources. The term is most often used to describe the efforts by governments to reduce carbon emissions by their economies. Ireland has committed to radically decarbonising its energy system by 2050. That is the year by which the EU aims to be 'carbon neutral', i.e. to be an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, which objective is at the heart of the European Green Deal.
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The European Banking Authority is a regulatory agency of the EU. The EBA published its Action Plan on sustainable finance in December 2019. This plan outlines its approach and timeline for delivering mandates related to environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, and can be found here.


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Extended External Reporting (EER) encapsulates may different forms of reporting from sustainability reporting, integrated reporting and other reporting about financial and non-financial matters, including environmental, social and governance matters, relating to an entity's activities. The IAASB is currently running an EER Assurance project, with a view to creating guidance on extended external reporting, which will be a non-authoritative EER guidance. 


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The European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) is a private association established in 2001 with the encouragement of the EC to serve the public interest. Its Member Organisations are European stakeholders and National Organisations having knowledge and interest in the development of IFRS and how they contribute to the efficiency of capital markets. EFRAG’s mission is to serve the European public interest by developing and promoting European views in the field of financial reporting and ensuring these views are properly considered in the IASB standard-setting process and in related international debates. EFRAG ultimately provides advice to the European Commission on whether newly issued or revised IFRS meet the criteria in the IAS Regulation for endorsement for use in the EU, including whether endorsement would be conducive to the European public good.


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Environmental Impact Assessment


The process of examining the environmental effects of development - from consideration of environmental aspects at design stage through to preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement, evaluation of the EIS by a competent authority and the subsequent decision as to whether the development should be permitted to proceed, also encompassing public response to that decision.


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Environmental Impact Statement


A document prepared to describe the effects for proposed activities on the environment.


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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) responsible for protecting and improving the environment as a valuable asset for the people of Ireland.


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Environment, Social, Governance (ESG) refers to the three central factors in  measuring the sustainability and societal impact of an investment in a company or business.


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The European Securities & Markets Authority is a financial regulatory agency and European Supervisory Authority located in Paris.


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EU Action Plan on Sustainable Finance


EU’s Action Plan on Sustainable Finance seeks to clarify the duties of financial institutions to provide their clients with clear advice on the social and environmental risks and opportunities attached to their investments.


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EU Eco-labelling Scheme


A label of environmental excellence that is awarded to products and services meeting high environmental standards. 


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EU Guidelines on reporting climate-related information


Published in June 2019, these guidelines aim to give practical recommendations to around 6,000 EU-listed companies, banks and insurance companies that must disclose non-financial information under the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD). They incorporate the TCFD recommendations as well as the “EU taxonomy”, a classification system to identify the parts of a business that have a significant positive impact on climate. The goal of the guidelines is to help companies better report the impact their activities are having on the climate as well as the impact of climate change on their business.


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Eurosif, based in Brussels, is the leading European association for the promotion and advancement of sustainable and responsible investment across Europe, for the benefit of its members. It's purposes is to:

  1. Promote best practice in Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI) on behalf of its members
  2. Lobby for European regulation and legislation that supports the development of SRI
  3. Support its members in developing their SRI business
  4. Promote the development of, and collaboration between  Sustainable & Responsible Investment Forums (SIFs) across Europe
  5. Provide research and analysis on the development of, and trends within the SRI market across Europe
  6. Raise awareness of, and increase demand for SRI throughout the European capital markets
See also SIF Ireland
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EU Taxonomy


Billed as the world's first-ever “green list”, the taxonomy is a classification system for sustainable economic activities. The goal of creating it was to create a common language that investors can use everywhere when investing in projects and economic activities that have a substantial positive impact on the climate and the environment. The European Commission’s Technical Expert Group on sustainable finance (TEG) was tasked with developing it, and it screened activities across a wide range of sectors, including energy, transport, agriculture, manufacturing and real estate. It identified low-carbon activities such as zero-emissions transport but also transition activities like iron and steel manufacturing to compile a framework to identify the parts of a business that have a significant positive impact on climate. The taxonomy also provides guidance on the boundaries of negative impact with do-no-harm criteria. The EU co-legislators reached a political agreement on the taxonomy regulation in December 2019, and the European Parliament adopted the Taxonomy Regulation on 18 June 2020.


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EU TEG on Sustainable Finance


A Technical Expert Group (TEG) on sustainable finance set up by the European Commission and tasked with assisting in the development, in line with the Commission's legislative proposals of May 2018, of:

  • an EU classification system – the so-called EU taxonomy – to determine whether an economic activity is environmentally sustainable;
  • an EU Green Bond Standard;
  • methodologies for EU climate benchmarks and disclosures for benchmarks; and
  • guidance to improve corporate disclosure of climate-related information. 

The TEG commenced its work in July 2018 and its mandate has been extended until 30 September 2020.


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European Green Deal


A European Commission roadmap, presented in December 2019, for making the EU's economy sustainable by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities across all policy areas and making the transition just and inclusive for all. The roadmap has actions to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy and stop climate change, revert biodiversity loss and cut pollution. It outlines investments needed and financing tools available, and explains how to ensure a just and inclusive transition.


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European Union Emissions Trading System

European Union Emissions Trading System (or EU ETS) is a system to help EU member states achieve commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a cost effective way, by allowing participating companies to buy or sell emission allowances, which means that emission cuts can be achieved at least cost.

Certain energy intensive industry sectors in the EU, such as power generation, oil refining and steel - plus any single greenhouse gas emitting site above a certain size fall -  within the scope of the EU ETS.  GHG emissions from air travel within the EU were added to the system in 2012.

Companies in the EU ETS must report on their GHG emissions each year and purchase an 'emissions allowance' for every tonne of CO2 equivalent they have emitted. Emissions allowances are auctioned by member states each year.  The number of allowances that can be auctioned reduces each year in line with the portion of the EU’s greenhouse gas reduction target allocated to companies in the ETS.  In this way, the trading system is intended to encourage the most efficient and lowest cost path to reduction.

The EU ETS was the first large greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme in the world and is still the largest.

Companies and sectors such as road transport and SMEs that do not fall into the criteria for the EU ETS are sometimes collectively referred to as the Non-ETS sector’


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Extra-Financial Reporting


An evaluation of a company based on criteria other than just financial performance: respect for the environment, etc.


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European Banking Authority

F - G

Term Description Website
Financial Stability Board


The Financial Stability Board (FSB) is an international body that monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system. It was established after the G20 London summit in April 2009 as a successor to the Financial Stability Forum. It monitors and assesses vulnerabilities affecting the global financial system, and promotes international financial stability by coordinating national financial authorities and international standard-setting bodies as they work toward developing strong regulatory, supervisory and other financial sector policies.  In April 2015, the G20 asked the FSB to consider climate risk, and in December 2015 the FSB launched the industry-led Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) to develop recommendations on climate-related financial disclosures. The Task Force published its final recommendations in June 2017.

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An international forum for the governors and central bank governors from 19 countries and the EU.



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The Global Accounting Alliance (GAA) is an international coalition of accounting organisations that was formed in 2006. The GAA aims to promote standards of quality professional services, support their members, and share information and collaborate on international accounting issues. The GAA provides members with a GAA Passport which provides access to other member bodies so they can access restricted areas of the local institute website, training and development, and publications at member rates when visiting their country. Among its areas of endeavour are support for sustainability initiatives and integrated reporting through membership of the HRH Prince of Wales Accounting for Sustainability project (A4S) and its Accounting Bodies Network (ABN), and members of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC). Chartered Accountants Ireland is represented on its Sustainability Working Group, its Tax Directors Group and its Education Directors Group.


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Green-house gases (usually used in the context 'GHG Reduction' and 'GHG emissions'). Carbon dioxide and other gases cause and accelerate the 'greenhouse effect', thereby damaging the insulation of the earth's atmosphere.


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Green Bonds


A type of fixed income instrument that is specifically earmarked to raise money for climate and environmental projects. Green bonds have increased in popularity in recent years, and in general, tend to be more oversubscribed and experience greater spread tightening during book building compared to vanilla equivalents.


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Green Finance


Green finance (a related term is 'climate finance') is one of a number of broad terms used to label activities related to the two-way interaction between the environment and finance and investment. It can refer to financial investments flowing into sustainable development projects and initiatives, environmental products, and policies that encourage the development of a more sustainable. 


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Green Public Procurement


Green Public Procurement (GPP) is a process where public authorities seek to source goods, services or works with a reduced environmental impact. The Irish Government’s annual public sector purchasing accounts for 10% to 12% of Ireland’s GDP, a large part of economic activity and demand. This provides Ireland’s public sector with significant influence to stimulate the provision of more resource-efficient, less polluting goods, services and works within the marketplace. The Climate Action Plan will require every public body to have a climate mandate. A key element of such a mandate will be using public procurement to deliver change. 


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A play on the term "whitewashing," which means using misleading information to gloss over bad behaviour, greenwashing is a form of corporate misrepresentation where a company will present a green public image and publicize green initiatives that are false or misleading. Also called "green sheen", greenwashing is a form of marketing spin in which green PR and green marketing are deceptively used to persuade the public that an organisation's products, aims and policies are environmentally friendly in order to take advantage of the growing public concern and awareness for environmental issues, attract investors (especially those interested in socially responsible investing), create competitive advantage in the marketplace, convince critics that the company is well-intentioned, and access the fast-growing market for green products which present a huge potential for growth.


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The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) was formed in 1997 and developed the first and most widely adopted global standards for sustainability reporting. The GRI Standards are broader in scope than some of the other frameworks. The GRI differs from SASB in its emphasis on financial materiality. 


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I - J

Term Description Website


The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) is the independent, private-sector accounting-standard-setting body of the IFRS foundation. It develops and approves International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs). The IASB operates under the oversight of the IFRS Foundation.


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The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) is a global coalition of regulators, investors, companies, standard setters, the accounting profession, academia and NGOs. It promotes communication about value creation as the next step in the evolution of corporate reporting. Its mission is to establish integrated reporting and thinking within mainstream business practice as the norm in the public and private sectors. Its vision is to align capital allocation and corporate behaviour to wider goals of financial stability and sustainable development through the cycle of integrated reporting and thinking. 


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Impact accounting Impact accounting, or 'Impact-Weighted Accounting' is a method of research by major evaluation agencies, centered on researchers at Harvard Business School. The Impact-Weighted Accounts Project is a project of the Harvard Business School. It's mission is to drive the creation of financial accounts that reflect a company’s financial, social and environmental performance. The idea is to create accounting statements that capture external impacts such that they drive investor and managerial decision-making. Read more
Impact investing Defined by Eurosif as “investments made into companies, organisations and funds with the intention to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.”  


The Irish National Capital Accounting for Sustainable Environments (INCASE) is a project that aims to map, assess, measure and account for the benefits that nature provides to people. It will apply Natural Capital Accounting principles to a suite of ecosystem and geosystem services at river catchment scale across Ireland. It is run by a multi-disciplinary team, with specialists in ecology, freshwater biology, economics, statistics, accounting and agriculture. INCASE is an EPA-funded research project. It kicked off in March 2019 and will run until 2023.


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International Platform on Sustainable Finance  
The International Platform on Sustainable Finance (IPSF) is a forum for facilitating exchanges of  environmentally sustainable finance. It was launched in Oct 2019 by the European Union together with relevant authorities of Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, India, Kenya and Morocco. Its ultimate objective is to scale up the mobilisation of private capital towards environmentally sustainable investments to meet the Paris Agreement commitments. Public funding, while vital for the transition, but it will not be enough, as trillions of investments in sustainable infrastructure will be needed over the next decades.
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Integrated Reporting (IR) aims to build on reporting developments to provide a more holistic form of reporting the value created by a business, by considering non-financial resources such as human, social and intellectual capitals as well as financial capital. An integrated report is a concise communication about how an organisation's strategy, governance, performance and prospects lead to the creation of value over the short, medium and long term. Integrated reporting (IR) has been developed and promoted by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) (see above) through the International Integrated Reporting Framework.


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<IR> Framework


The International Integrated Reporting Framework (IR Framework) is used by the International Integrated Reporting Council to accelerate the adoption of integrated reporting across the world. The '<IR> Framework' was released in 2013 following extensive consultation and testing by businesses and investors in all regions of the world, including the 140 businesses and investors from 26 countries that participated in the IIRC Pilot Programme. The purpose of the Framework is to establish Guiding Principles and Content Elements that govern the overall content of an integrated report, and to explain the fundamental concepts that underpin them.


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Ireland for Finance


The strategy for the further development of Ireland's international financial services sector to 2025. It sets out ambitions to support sustainable finance and identifies sustainable finance as one of its priorities. It noted that EU developments on sustainable finance represent a significant opportunity for Ireland to be in the vanguard of this growing area. Ireland issued its first sovereign green bond in late 2018 and the ESB issued the first Irish corporate green bond in June of last year. There is considered to be massive potential growth in this area as green bonds currently only represent 1% of the $53 trillion global bond market. 


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Ireland's National Implementation Plan


The National Implementation Plan, also called the Sustainable Development Goals National Implementation Plan 2018-2020 and provides a whole-of-government approach to implement the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is in direct response to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Plan identifies four strategic priorities to guide implementation: 

  • Awareness: raise public awareness of the SDGs;
  • Participation: provide stakeholders opportunities to engage and contribute to follow-up and review processes, and further develop national implementation of the Goals Support:
  • Encourage and support efforts of communities and organisations to contribute towards meeting the SDGs, and foster public participation; and
  • Policy alignment: develop alignment of national policy with the SDGs and identify opportunities for policy coherence.


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ISO 14001


An internationally accepted specification for an Environmental Management System (EMS). It specifies requirements for establishing an environmental policy, determining environmental aspects and impacts of products/activities/services, planning environmental objectives and measurable targets, implementation and operation of programs to meet objectives and targets, checking and corrective action, and management review. ISO is an acronym for International Organization for Standardization.


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Just Transition


A term used to encompass a range of social interventions needed to secure people's rights when economies are shifting to sustainable production. In a Bill brought forward in 2018, just transition is defined as 'the bringing together of workers, communities, employers and government in social dialogue to drive the concrete plans, policies and investments needed for a fast and fair transformation to a low carbon economy and to ensure that employment and jobs in the new economy are as decent and as well-paid as those left behind'. In 2019 the commissioned the National Economic and Social Council to write a report as part of its Climate Action Plan and Future Jobs Ireland 2019.


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L - P

Term Description Website


Life-cycle assessment (LCA) involves the evaluation of some aspects (often the environmental aspects) of a product system through all stages of its life cycle. Sometimes also called 'life cycle analysis', 'life cycle approach', 'cradle to grave analysis' or 'ecobalance'. 


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Natural Capital


Natural capital is the world's stock of natural resources, which includes geology, soils, air, water and all living organisms. Some natural capital assets provide people with free goods and services, often called ecosystem services. Two of these underpin our economy and society, and thus make human life possible. The Irish Forum on Natural Capital describe natural capital as 'an economic metaphor for nature; a concept that frames the world's resources like plants, animals, water, and minerals as assets or stocks that yield a flow of benefits to people.'  It describes the 'natural capital approach' as measuring and valuing natural capital assets. Values can be expressed in many different ways, including in qualitative, biophysical and monetary terms. Values can help reveal how natural capital is delivering important benefits to society and the economy. These natural capital assessments can be used to support more sustainable decision-making.


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Natural Capital Accounting


Natural Capital Accounting is a system for organising information about natural capital assets and ecosystem services. The UN has a standard for this type of accounting, called the SEEA, or the System of Environmental-Economic Accounts. The aim of organising this information is to help decision-makers understand how the environment interacts with the economy. 


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Network for Greening the Financial System Network for Greening the Financial System is a network of Central Banks and Supervisors that was set up at the Paris “One Planet Summit” in December 2017. Its purpose is to help strengthen the global response required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and to enhance the role of the financial system to manage risks and to mobilize capital for green and low-carbon investments in the broader context of environmentally sustainable development. To this end, the Network defines and promotes best practices to be implemented within and outside of the Membership of the NGFS and conducts or commissions analytical work on green finance. As of December 14th 2020, the NGFS consists of 83 members and 13 observers. Read more
Non-Financial Disclosures  


If financial disclosure is the act of making a company's financial information available to investors, banks, etc., non-financial disclosure is the act of making a company's relevant non-financial information available to the same recipients. Non-financial information can include environmental impact, a company's relationship with its vendors, diversity in a company's workplace and evidence of its social responsibility.


Non-Financial Reporting


Non-financial reporting is a form of reporting where businesses formally disclose certain information not related to their finances. In Ireland there is currently no requirement for most companies to make non-financial disclosures, but there is a growing demand by investors and other stakeholders for this information to be made available. EU law currently requires only large public-interest companies with more than 500 employees to publish regular reports on the social and environmental impacts of their activities. This covers approximately 6,000 large companies and groups across the EU, including listed companies, banks, insurance companies, other companies designated by national authorities as public-interest entities.


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Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD)


The 'Non-Financial Reporting Directive' is Directive 2014/95/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 amending Directive 2013/34/EU as regards disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large undertakings and groups. This Directive lays down the rules on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by large companies, which have been required to include non-financial statements in their annual reports from 2018 onwards. Under the Directive, relevant companies have to publish reports on the policies they implement in relation to 

  • environmental protection
  • social responsibility and treatment of employees
  • respect for human rights
  • anti-corruption and bribery
  • diversity on company boards (in terms of age, gender, educational and professional background)

Under the Directive, companies have significant flexibility to disclose relevant information in the way they consider most useful. Although the European Commission published guidelines in 2017 (and supplemented again in 2019) to help companies disclose environmental and social information, these guidelines are not mandatory and companies may decide to use international, European or national guidelines according to their own characteristics or business environment to produce their statements. For instance, they can rely on:

  • the UN Global Compact
  • the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises 
  • ISO 26000

The NFRD is currently being reviewed and the EU sought responses to a public consultation on the review in 2020. Chartered Accountants Ireland responded to the new proposals on June 15, 2020, after consultation with members of our committees and Sustainability Expert Working Group. 


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Origin Green


Origin Green is Ireland's pioneering food and drink sustainability programme, operating on a national scale, uniting government, the private sector and the full supply chain from farmers to food producers and right through to the foodservice and retail sectors to make Irish food and drink the first choice globally because it is sustainably produced by people who care. It was officially launched in 2012. Since the launch of Origin Green, the Irish food industry has made great progress towards the aim of driving sustainable food production. This is captured in the Origin Green Progress Report published in 2019 and detailed below. 


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Paris Agreement


The Paris Agreement is a legally binding, global agreement on climate change, agreed in Paris on 12 December 2015. It puts in place the necessary framework for all countries to take ambitious mitigation action. It sets out a long-term goal to put the world on track to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. It aims to tackle 95% of global emissions through 188 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The agreement also places significant importance on actions needed, both nationally and globally, to help people adapt to climate change.

Ireland will contribute to the mitigation aspects of the Agreement via the NDC tabled by the EU on behalf of Member States which commits to a 40% reduction in EU-wide emissions by 2030 compared to 1990. The specific details of the contribution to this 40% to be made by each Member State in respect of the non-ETS sector was the subject of a European Commission proposal published on 20 July 2016. The full implications of this proposal from a national perspective are being examined. An agreement within the UN Framework Convention on climate change dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance signed in 2016.


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Project Ireland 2040


Project Ireland 2040 was launched in February 2018 as the Government’s overarching policy initiative to make Ireland a better country for all citizens, emphasising social outcomes and values ahead of economic targets. It prioritises the wellbeing of all of our people, wherever they live and whatever their background. It seeks to achieve ten strategic outcomes, building around the overarching themes of wellbeing, equality and opportunity and representing the ten priorities of the National Planning Framework. These strategic outcomes are:

  1. Compact Growth
  2. Enhanced Regional Accessibility 
  3. Strengthened Rural Economies and Communities
  4. Sustainable Mobility
  5. A Strong Economy supported by Enterprise, Innovation and Skills
  6. High-Quality International Connectivity
  7. Enhanced Amenity and Heritage
  8. Transition to a Low-Carbon and Climate-Resilient Economy
  9. Sustainable Management of Water and other Environmental Resources 
  10. Access to Quality Childcare, Education and Health Services 

Project Ireland 2040 is the vision; it is supported by a development strategy called the National Planning Framework, which is a 182-page planning framework to guide investment and development. Its companion document is the National Development Plan, a 10-year strategy for public capital investment of almost €116 billion. Their joint publication as Project Ireland 2040 in 2018 was planned to create a unified and coherent plan for the country.


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Term Description Website
Renewable Energy


The term renewable energy generally refers to electricity supplied from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, geothermal, hydropower, and various forms of biomass. These energy sources are considered renewable sources because they are continuously replenished on the Earth. 


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Renewed Sustainable Finance Strategy 


A policy framework forming a key part of the European Green Deal. 


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Responsible Investing


Any investment strategy which seeks to consider both financial return and social/environmental good to bring about social change.


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Term Description Website


The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) is a non-profit organisation, founded in 2011 to develop sustainability accounting standards to respond to the global drive for standardised reporting. In 2018 SASB published a set of standards for 77 different industries, which identify the minimal set of financially material sustainability topics and their associated metrics for a typical company in a given industry. Focusing on financially material issues for specific industries, SASB is more granular in scope than some of the other frameworks, such as the GRI


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Science-Based Targets


Targets adopted by companies to reduce GHG emissions in line with the level of decarbonisation required to keep global temperature increase below 2°C.


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The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) was established as Ireland's national energy authority under the Sustainable Energy Act 2002. SEAI's mission is to play a leading role in transforming Ireland into a society based on sustainable energy structures, technologies and practices.


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Single-use Plastics


Single-use plastics are goods that are made primarily from fossil fuel-based chemicals (petrochemicals) and are meant to be disposed of right after use—often, in minutes. Single-use plastics are most commonly used for packaging and serviceware, such as bottles, wrappers, straws, and bags. The Government decision of January 2019 on Actions by Departments and Agencies on Single Use Plastics, Prevention of Waste and Green Public Procurement has determined that Government departments will not purchase single-use plastic beverage cups, cutlery and drinking straws, directly or indirectly, after 1 January 2019. Additionally, all public bodies, including state agencies under the aegis of ministers, will not purchase single-use plastic beverage cups, cutlery and drinking straws after 31 March 2019, except where specific public health/hygiene or safety issues arise.


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System of Sustainable Environmental Accounts (see Natural Capital Accounting)


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Supply Chain Management


The management of the flow of goods and services. Sustainable supply chain management involves integrating environmentally and financially viable practices into the complete supply chain lifecycle, from product design and development, to material selection, (including raw material extraction or agricultural production), manufacturing, packaging, transportation, warehousing, distribution, consumption, return and disposal. Environmentally sustainable supply chain management and practices can assist organisations in not only reducing their total carbon footprint, but also in optimizing their end-to-end operations to achieve greater cost savings and profitability. All supply chains can be optimized using sustainable practices.


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SIF Ireland

Sustainable & Responsible Investment Forum (SIF) Ireland is the national platform for all members of the financial services industry, policy makers and intermediaries to advance sustainable and responsible investing best practice across all financial service sector activities in Ireland.

Established in 2017 by Sustainable Nation Ireland ( an NGO that works to promote Ireland as a centre of excellence for sustainable and responsible investing) and leading members of the Irish investment community, SIF Ireland is tasked, under the Government’s ‘Ireland for Finance Roadmap’, with raising awareness of the sustainable and responsible investment agenda, as it continues to grow rapidly in Ireland and around the world. SIF Ireland is a member of Eurosif
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Sustainability Strategy


A framework set up to contribute to the sustainability goals of a company. A sustainable business strategy is the integration of economic, environmental, and social aims into a firm's goals, activities, and planning, with the aim of creating long-term value for the firm, its stakeholders, and the wider society. 


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Sustainability-Linked Loans


Sustainability Linked Loans or ESG Linked Loans are general corporate purpose loans used to incentivise borrowers' commitment to sustainability and to support environmentally and socially sustainable economic activity and growth.


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Sustainability-Linked Bonds


Sustainability-Linked Bonds (“SLBs”) are any type of bond instrument for which the financial and/or structural characteristics can vary depending on whether the issuer achieves predefined sustainability/ESG objectives.



A company, founded in 1992, that rates the sustainability of listed companies based on their environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) performance. In 2013, Sustainalytics partnered with the United Nation's Global Compact to launch the Global Compact 100 index, a real-time stock index that tracks Global Compact signatories awarded a high ESG rating by Sustainalytics. 

Other  companies in the business-research space offering similar ESG-related ratings or bencmarks for public and private companies are MSCI, CSRHub, and GRESB. 

Institutional investors, asset managers, financial institutions and other stakeholders are increasingly relying on these reports and ratings to assess and measure company ESG performance over time and as compared to peers. 
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Term Description Website


The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures was set up in 2015 by the Financial Stability Board (FSB) of the G20 to develop voluntary guidelines for companies, banks and investors to use when disclosing climate-related financial risks and opportunities to their stakeholders. The recommendations, issued in 2017, aim to help financial markets, including lenders, insurers and investors, better assess and price those risks and opportunities. While voluntary until now, TCFD-based reporting becomes mandatory in 2020 for all asset owners and managers signed on to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment.


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Triple-Bottom Line


A phrase first coined in 1994, it describes the separate financial, social and environmental ‘bottom lines’ of companies. In principle it is designed for companies to value their social and environmental profits and losses, as well as the financial ones.


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The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international environmental treaty adopted on 9 May 1992 and opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992. It entered into force on 21 March 1994, after a sufficient number of countries had ratified it. The UNFCCC objective is to 'stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system'. The framework sets non-binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual countries and contains no enforcement mechanisms. Instead, the framework outlines how specific international treaties (called 'protocols' or 'Agreements') may be negotiated to specify further action towards the objective of the UNFCCC. Ireland is a Party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and reports directly to the UNFCCC in relation to emissions and also participates in the UNFCCC formal meetings through the EU. Under the Convention, governments:

  • Gather and share information on greenhouse gas emissions, national policies and best practices
  • Launch national strategies for addressing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to expected impacts, including the provision of financial and technological support to developing countries
  • Cooperate in preparing for adaptation to the impacts of climate change

The UNFCCC meets formally twice a year, through an intersessional mid-year series of meetings and through a Conference of the Parties (COP) at year-end.

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UN COP Climate Change Summit


COP stands for 'Conference of the Parties'. Each year, the UNFCCC meets at the COP to negotiate a range of issues, from global reporting on national climate change efforts to how to finance such efforts. It also allows parties to share knowledge and experiences. The 26th UN Climate Change Conference ('COP 26') will take place in November 2020, at the Scottish Exhibition Centre in Glasgow. 


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The United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) is a non-binding United Nations pact to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation. It is the world's largest corporate sustainability initiative based on CEO commitments to implement universal sustainability principles and to take steps to support UN SDGs. The UNGC is a call to companies everywhere to align their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to take action in support of UN goals and issues embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals. The UN Global Compact is a leadership platform for the development, implementation and disclosure of responsible corporate practices. Launched in 2000, it is the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world, with more than 9,000 companies and 3,000 non-business signatories based in over 160 countries, and more than 70 Local Networks. Starting in January 2020, the UN Global Compact accepts all businesses and organisations that fulfil the criteria for participation, regardless of the number of employees. All participating companies and organisations are still required to have at least one direct employee and active operations.


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The 'Principles for Responsible Investment' is a United Nations-supported international network of investors working together to implement its six aspirational principles, often referenced as "the Principles". The Principles were launched in 2006 to help investors incorporate ESG factors into their investment and ownership decisions. The international network of investor signatories has grown from 100 to over 2,300, representing over $80 trillion in assets under management. The six principles are a set of voluntary investment principles, supported by 35 possible actions, that investors can use to integrate ESG into investment practice. The PRI has specifically aligned its work with the UN SDGs and has also made TCFD-based reporting mandatory for its signatories in 2020. The principles are as follows:

  • Principle 1: We will incorporate ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making processes.
  • Principle 2: We will be active owners and incorporate ESG issues into our ownership policies and practices.
  • Principle 3: We will seek appropriate disclosure on ESG issues by the entities in which we invest.
  • Principle 4: We will promote acceptance and implementation of the Principles within the investment industry.
  • Principle 5: We will work together to enhance our effectiveness in implementing the Principles.
  • Principle 6: We will each report on our activities and progress towards implementing the Principles.


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The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 goals adopted by the UN member states in 2015 to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The SDGs provide a blueprint for countries to achieve a more sustainable future, including ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, combating climate change and protecting oceans and forests. While the SDGs were created for UN member states, the UN Global Compact and GRI have joined forces to help businesses report on the SDGs. The SDGs are:

  • GOAL 1: No Poverty
  • GOAL 2: Zero Hunger
  • GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being
  • GOAL 4: Quality Education
  • GOAL 5: Gender Equality
  • GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation
  • GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
  • GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality
  • GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
  • GOAL 13: Climate Action
  • GOAL 14: Life Below Water
  • GOAL 15: Life on Land
  • GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
  • GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal



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