Why Sustainability Reporting is Booming in Gulf Region!


2014 CSE Research on Sustainability Reporting

The Centre for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE) as an official GRI Training Partner for Middle East recently conducted a research to observe the emerging trends for the publication of Sustainability (CSR) Reports and external assurance in Gulf Countries and overall Middle East region.

To examine the statistical results, CSE processed data retrieved from the international database of GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) and conducted a survey of 67 organizations in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Egypt that have published unique Sustainability reports for the period 2012-2014

The results showed that companies in the energy sector have the lead with a rate of 28% among companies that produce a sustainability report. The country that published most sustainability reports in the period 2012-2014 was United Arab Emirates with 34% followed by Qatar where 22% of the reports were issued.

The main conclusion of this research was that almost 81% of companies in Middle East that published a Sustainability (CSR) report, followed the internationally recognized standards of GRI, while the remaining 19% was based either on ten basic principles of United Nations Global Compact or did not comply with any particular or recognized reporting standard. Despite that the majority of the companies follow the instructions GRI G3.1 to their sustainability reports, only a small percentage of the reports fully comply with the GRI requirements. Furthermore, only 19% of the sustainability reports sample contained external assurance. Additionally, less than 10% of the companies studied have established future goals or launched strategy on sustainability and CSR issues.

According to those conclusions it seems that while Sustainability Reporting is booming in particular countries in Gulf (e.g. UAE, Qatar) there is still lack of maturity for the importance of strategy and external assurance according to global best practices.

CSE encourages every company who would like to better understand the significance of those strategies and earn all the practical tools to create Sustainability Reports , to join our

Global Advanced Certified Sustainability Course and GRI G4 Courses:

Abu Dhabi, UAE on October 12-13

Dubai, UAE on December 7-8

For more information contact us at development@cse-net.org or visit www.cse-net.org (Upcoming Trainings) 


Myth busters about common sustainability misconceptions

The opinions behind what constitutes sustainability are many. Are you among those who got it right?

Sustainability strategies have not always been in the forefront of every business plan. Neither has climate change been on the top priority of every corporate agenda. It was not until last century that corporate responsibility and sustainability started playing a more important role and businesses started treating it as something important and were placed at the heart of their business value. Yet, the question remains: Do companies really know what sustainability is? Below are the most common corporate responsibility myths:

1.       Corporate responsibility is meant to correct social inequality

Social equality is, undoubtedly, a key to virtue to every democratic sustainable developing country and corporation. However, when it comes to business their main objective is not to act as a philanthropic industry and solve all social inequalities but rather be profitable as well.

2.       Corporate responsibility is not public relations

Of course every organization needs effective and strategic public relations between itself and everyone else, but the purpose of PR and CSR should mingle in together. Corporations should not be doing CSR as a way of public relations, or as a way to create or strengthen their existing relations with others. In contrast to that, PR should act as a communication vehicle by which companies can showcase their CSR initiatives.

3.       Corporate responsibility is not simply about following regulations

The issue that many corporations are called to face is that of regulations. What is considered as a regulation in one country is not a regulation in other. Let’s take for example labor unions: In United Arab Emirates it is illegal to have any type of labor union. However, in other counties it is not. How are global companies supposed to manage those types of regulations? Undoubtedly, operation in many countries is tough so corporate responsibility is not simply about following regulations.

It goes without much saying that the misconceptions corporate responsibility can be many. To accurately define what CSR really is, every organization must have a clear understanding of what sustainability really is. Only then they can really see what their impact on society, environment, market and workplace actually is.

To learn the additional misconceptions about CSR and earn the globally recognized certification as a CSR practitioner approved by the IEMA, register for one of our upcoming Advanced Certified Sustainability (CSR) Practitioner Trainings or contact us for more information at sustainability@cse-net.org.

Nikos Avlonas of CSE Presented His New book on Practical Sustainability Strategies in Chicago

On Tuesday, February 11, Nikos Avlonas, President of the Centre for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE), and George Nassos, Principal of George Nassos Associates, presented in Chicago  their new book entitled “Practical Sustainability Strategies: How to Gain a Competitive Advantage.”

The book, recently published John Wiley & Sons, Inc., already got its place among America’s bestsellers on its first 3 weeks of publication. The book goes a step beyond all the theoretical solutions about sustainability and offers proven practical strategies that organizations can follow to develop and maintain a unique competitive advantage and includes case studies.
book-1Great contribution to last night’s event were the presentation of its guest speakers, Howard Learner, President and Executive Director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, and Cary Nathenson, Associate Dean of The University of Chicago Graham School. The speakers emphasized the importance of the authors’ contribution in promoting sustainability and responsible corporate strategies. The event was attended by numerous professionals from the academia, corporate organizations and local media.
Commenting on the recent publication of his book, CSE’s president and book co-author Nikos Avlonas said: ”This book reflects my fifteen-year global Sustainability experience with dozens of Fortune 500 companies and other organizations  in  North America, Europe, Asia and Middle East  during which I provided strategic consulting and training services. This contributed toward creating strategies with a positive impact  on both organizations , society and the environment as a whole.‘’

Cary Nathenson Associate Dean from the University of Chicago Graham School where Nikos Avlonas was advisor on its Sustainability Leadership program comment “Sustainability education needs to be both theoretical as well as practical in order to contribute to holistic approaches. This new book makes a welcome attempt to bridge the theory-practice divide.”

Joseph Maguire, President, Society of Environmentally Responsible Facilities, said that “Nikos Avlonas is a global leader in developing and implementing sustainability strategies for organizations–including SERF. He has teamed with his colleague George Nassos to masterfully distill their decades of experience in to this powerful and useful work.” Maguire adds “With an all-too-rare mix of accessible prose and hard data, these gentlemen have produced a work that belongs on the bookshelf of every corporate sustainability officer and concerned citizen of the world.”

To learn more about the book, please visit here, or for more information about CSE’s global sustainability trainings programs, instructed by the Nikos Avlonas, visit here or contacts directly CSE at sustainability@cse-net.org or at 312-214-6464

Did you Know that Companies with Certified CSR-Practitioners Increase their CSR Performance?

Did you Know that Companies with Certified CSR-Practitioners Increase their CSR Performance?

Here at CSE we recently conducted a research based on CSRhub to discover just how important CSR-Practitioners are in advancing companies’ sustainability journey. For those of you who aren’t aware CSRHub is a leading corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability rating and information database. In order for CSRHub to produce sustainable and therefore actual results, their criteria looks into evaluating companies CSR efforts in 4 fundamental categories (Community, Employees, Environment, and Resources) and 12 additional subcategories. In turn the overall CSR rating score calculated by CSRHub creates a benchmark for companies to compare sustainability performance. So we are essentially referring to a benchmark for company performance, which establishes a broad, consistent rating with data from multiple sources derived by companies’ sustainability and CSR initiatives. To date, CSRhub rating methodology uses 257 sources to create a schema which reduces bias and among those sources, respectively, are six top leading ESG research firms and other diverse, credible sources.

So, in our research 8 companies with CSR-Practitioners served as the sample to investigate their overall CSR Ratings.

Our aim was to discover if there was any difference between companies CSR ratings before and after having CSR-Practitioners within their teams. In turn, the actions taken to compare the 8 companies CSR scores 1 year before and after CSE training, were compared to the corresponding industry average. Fast-forwarding, the data points were transformed into line graphs to illustrate the sustainability score trends. So the graph below “W.W. Grainger Inc”illustrates the data point 1 year before CSE’s training (B), compared to 1 year after the training (P1) and indicates the impact that the CSR-Practitioners 2 year action plan (from the training) may have had on the company’s overall CSR score. For a full picture of the Research and the 2 year Action plan that all our Certified CSR Practitioners conduct, please click here.





Overall, the results of the research indicate that improvement scores were found in the companies which had CSR-Ps.  Why? Simple!  All CSR-Ps have completed CSE’s Certified CSR training and upon completion they created a 2 year Sustainability (CSR) action plan for their company. The reason this is notable is, when implemented, the action plan introduces a carbon footprint strategy and energy reduction plan. This is a practical and measurable strategy which is under review for 4 month by CSE experts and is approved by a third party (IEMA- Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment) to ensure it meets standards and includes a variety of tools for approach. This action plan, implemented by the CSR-Practitionerss could have contributed to the improvement in overall CSR ratings.

Keen on having such an impact in your organization? Then join our upcoming Certified Sustainability & CSR Trainings approved by the Leading UK Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), in Europe, North America and the Middle East.

Certified Sustainability (CSR) Practitioner Trainings:

London, 17 &18 October 2013

Abu Dhabi, 24 & 25 November 2013

Houston, 7 & 8 November 2013

Atlanta, 14 & 14 November 2013

Certified Carbon Strategy Practitioner Trainings:

San Francisco 12 & 13 September

Atlanta, 19 & 20 September

Abu Dhabi, 27 & 28 November 2013


Nowadays leading companies recognize Corporate Social Responsibility through a business model because it is the right thing to do, and as part of their Strategy it enhances reputation and builds positive bridges to society holistically. This has brought a new era of competition into the business world as competitive advantage is highly dependent by its stakeholders judgment in relation to their CSR results.

This new generation of competition has created a desire for businesses to win CSR awards as it directly provides recognition as well as leading the way to a more sustainable future!  This competition also transpires to a more personal basis as individuals view themselves as more “employable” if their background involves CSR! Thus, Certified CSR Practitioners are seen to hold the key of influencing the culture of a team or even an entire organization as well, as contribute to their personal recognition.

Johanna Stakeberg is a perfect example of such individuals. Johanna is a CSR Practitioner trained by CSE, who following on from her training  started and developed two successful crime-preventive projects from 2007-2010, namely the ‘Neighborhood watch’, in Sörse – Varberg and in Andersberg – Halmstad (Sweden) which won the prize for the best crime-preventive project in Sweden 2012. Her inspiration was to minimize crime and promote the view of a healthy neighborhood! The aim of the projects was to prevent crime by 16-26% which was accomplished and surpassed! Yet, it was her desire for CSR which inspired the whole team and brought results! Undoubtedly to reach her goals she utilized ways and means of putting into best practice all her knowledge on CSR, which shined through and created a worthy project award!

To honor such loyalty towards CSR initiatives CSE created an international competition among Certified Sustainability (CSR) Practitioners known as the Global Sustainability (CSR) Practitioner Challenge in order to Award the CSR practitioners which leaded projects with great impact.

In 2012over 50 Certified CSR Executives from a diverse range of industries, backgrounds and regions took part in the 2012 Challenge. Within this competition each applicant presented a CSR initiative in which they had initiated and/or participated within their organization. Johanna, one of the 9 Awarded Sustainability (CSR) Practitioners, continued being recognized in Europe winning the first prize in the Swedish part of the crime prevention contest European Crime Prevention Award, the ECPA.

Have you thought of expanding your personal development?



A Need for Well Trained In-house Sustainability Officers & Comprehensive Systems

As companies strive to improve financial performance, developing and integrating a coherent sustainability strategy, and a systematic way of managing social and environmental impacts, often becomes the greatest challenge. Admittedly, it is not easy to move from developing a partial system that deals with the preliminary Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) problems and performance indicators, to using an integrated program that includes sustainability in day-to-day decision-making. Since sustainability is fundamentally complex due to its nature (and the unclear direct link to profit), implementing and integrating sustainability strategies thoroughly has proven more difficult and tricky than any other improvements.

In order to simultaneously achieve excellence in social, environmental andfinancial performance, an organization not only needs a system that understands the drivers of ESG performance and the impacts of performance on the corporate stakeholders, it also needs to implement this system throughout the organization. Correctly implementing the proper system and evaluating its impacts on financial performance is extremely complicated and can be problematic. Since relationships and trade-offs between financial and ESG performance work and evolve dynamically, decision-making is proving progressively harder for sustainability.

It is imperative to thoroughly understand the drivers of social and environmental performance and impacts on stakeholders. Furthermore, it is required to integrate this knowledge into day-to-day decisions and action plans for the whole company. Only through using this knowledge can a company determine whether a system is comprehensive and complete, and therefore appropriate for implementation. Adding to that, managers are also expected to quantify the link between ESG drivers, actions and financial performance.

As each organization is a unique entity facing diverse challenges both internally and externally, in-house Sustainability officers play an increasingly important role for the financial viability of management choices.

As organizations need to increase the speed they adopt responsible business practices, programs can no longer be marketing or communications oriented, but have to be real strategies based on international frameworks and recognized models.

Integrated reports and the use of social media are the latest trends and may be on the right direction but they are often considered as quick-fixes in a business world where stakeholders demand real effort. Hence, the need for trained in-house professionals that have a deep knowledge of the organization’s culture and the external environmental pressures is mandatory. In-house Sustainability professionals have the knowledge and responsibility of strategic planning and selecting the appropriate sustainability programs that meet core business requirements. They are entrusted with the task of effectively implementing sustainability programs.

Businesses need to regain Consumer trust

There is a great need for dialogue between businesses and civil society, in order to restore the destroying effects of the economic and social crisis, and the wounded consumer trust towards businesses. This was the most important finding of the CSR 2012 survey on “Corporate Social Responsibility and responsible consumption”. It was indicated that the percentage of consumers choosing to reward socially and environmentally responsible business this year has declined to 27.1%, a decrease of 11.9% compared with last years’ results, and returning to 2008 levels. On the other hand, the percentage of consumers choosing to punish socially and environmentally irresponsible business remains to the high levels of 37.6%, with only a slight tendency to decline compared to the last measurement (-5.6%).

But how can businesses restore this lost trust? Can Corporate Social Responsibility offer the tools needed towards this end?

CSE can help you answers these questions and offer you the tools needed to form a solid business case for your organization and regain consumer trust. Join our next Certified Sustainability (CSR)Practitioner training in Brussels 11&12 October to find out how!