Build a sustainability plan 101: establish objectives & metrics

EDF Supply Chain Solutions Center

Know what progress looks like

Since you can’t manage what you don’t measure, it’s important to get more concrete by defining specific, achievable objectives, establishing a clear baseline to evaluate current performance and selecting the right metrics to measure progress towards your goals over time.

EDF Supply Chain Solutions Center

1. Set specific, measurable objectives

“Our company pledges to reduce deforestation in our supply chain” is not a specific, measurable outcome. “We will work with our suppliers to achieve 50 percent deforestation-free soy by 2020, and 100 percent deforestation-free soy by 2025” is.

Having objectives that are specific and measurable will give you something to aim for, help keep you on course and give you opportunities to communicate to your stakeholders regarding your progress towards the goals that you set in the last step.

Questions to ask yourself as you construct specific and measurable objectives include:

Are there clear objectives? What will success look like?

  • How many activities/operations will you have to include in your plan to achieve your mission?
  • How big of an impact will you need to have on your chosen activities/operations to achieve your mission? (intensity)
  • What impact will a successful plan have on the environment at large? (outside of company’s own activities/operations)

Is there a clear timeline for implementing your plan?

  • What interim mileposts will you need to reach to achieve your objectives (and will ladder up to reaching your mission/goals)?
    • On what timescale should you set interim goals (e.g., monthly, quarterly, yearly)?
    • Which opportunities/initiatives can you leverage to make progress towards your objectives?

Are they realistic?

  • Which activities/operations do you have control over and should include in your sustainability plan?
  • Which activities/operations do you have the most control over?
  • What would be aggressive, but still achievable, goals for those activities/operations?
EDF Supply Chain Solutions Center

2. Identify key performance indicators, metrics and baselines

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) provide insight into the success of an activity in achieving an objective. Environmental KPIs seek to understand if progress is being made on an environmental issue.

Choosing consistent and comparable indicators that make sense for your company and for the issue you are seeking to address is critical for long-term success. Determine which environmental KPIs are best suited to your specific objectives by comparing typical KPIs to your company’s operations/activities.

A metric is the unit of measure that you are using to gauge progress within the KPI. The metric is essentially the answer to the KPI.

Want a deeper dive on establishing objectives and metrics for your interest area(s)?

Sustainable agriculture
Thriving forests
Sustainable energy
Green freight

Learn how to use the site

Watch Tutorial

Thanks for subscribing to our newsletter!

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras fermentum ultrices varius. Vivamus cursus turpis sed finibus ultricies. Nullam id mauris accumsan tellus facilisis eleifend. Vivamus sed lorem sit amet nisi gravida maximus. Suspendisse consequat auctor lacus et laoreet. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Praesent ultricies elit sagittis felis lobortis, nec aliquam arcu gravida.