Shaping the Horizon for Long Term Value Creation

Introducing public comments for sustainability accounting standards in the transportation industry
Shaping the Horizon for Long Term Value Creation
Publ. date 13 May 2014
Companies are outlining more and more sustainability issues in their annual reports. Recently published reports prove that companies in the same industry address different material topics in their Form 10-K, which is the annual report required in the United States by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for traded companies. The inconsistency in reporting, offers various initiatives opportunities to raise the bar for sustainability accounting standards. Organizations like the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), Good Agricultural and Collection Practices (GACP) and so on continuously improve their standards.

Non-profit organization SASB aims to develop and disseminate sustainability accounting standards in more than 80 industries for stock market listed companies in the United States. SASB has reached out to the public for improving their disclosure standards in the transportation sector, which covers the following industries:

  • Automotive;
  • Auto parts;
  • Car rental & leasing;
  • Air lines;
  • Air freights & logistics;
  • Marine transportation;
  • Rail transportation;
  • Road transportation.

The current standards are based on extensive evidence-based research, and input from 230 participants of the special Industry Working Groups. All participants were affiliated with investors representing $4 trillion assets under management and companies with $600 billion market capitalization. To finalize the standards, SASB has requested the public to give their comments during a period of 90 days, after which SASB’s independent Standards Council will do the final review. In September 2014 the transportation sector will be able to use the standards. 

Sector-wide materiality matrix for the transportation industry 

SASB’s approach is unique, because of its industry specific accounting standards for sustainability. By welcoming public comments for each industry, various stakeholders are covered and involved in the process of developing standards. This gives companies in the transportation sector an indication of which material issues are key and relevant for its stakeholders. The environmental, social and economical factors that are of high interest for the participants have the potential to affect the long term value creation of the transportation companies. By determining the business impact of those material issues, a sector-wide materiality matrix for the transportation industry can be made, which offers interesting insights and sustainable focus points for the sector. 

“In addition,” says Jean Rogers, director and founder of SASB: “The standards end up being quite tailored to the industry.” In this way the transportation sector receives useful and specific guidelines that will improve their consistency of sustainability disclosures, and that will allow companies to compare and benchmark their peer performance on corporate responsibility easier. For instance in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) or the Maplecroft Climate Innovation Indexes. 

Frontrunners: the automobile industry

One of the frontrunners in the transportation sector is the automotive industry. Facing key trends such as the circular economy and smart cities, the automotive industry is searching for sustainable solutions. By addressing material issues, (for example by reducing GHG-emissions, improving product safety, recycling, and sustainable supply chain management), car companies are working on a future-proof product portfolio that creates long term value. 

Our previously published article about ‘Sustainable Innovation: Business lessons from BMW’ presents the successful BMW i brand, which recognizes the fast changing society as a key driver for sustainable innovation. Other sustainability leaders in the automobile industry are Volkswagen AG and Fiat. These complete the RobecoSAM Gold Class in the industry group Automobiles. 


Are you looking for business opportunities for long-term value creation? Please contact Jan van der Kaaij at or call +31 6 28 02 18 80 for exploring concepts to take the next steps in sustainable innovation.

Image source: JAXPORT's photostream

About Jan van der Kaaij

Sustainability expert in strategy development, DJSI and sustainable innovation, with a hands-on approach and always committed to go for the max. | 

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