In 2019 our programme has been expanded beyond carbon management to encompass broader sustainability goals. The objectives of the new Sustainability Measurement and Management System (SMMS) are aligned with the five most relevant UN Sustainable Development Goals for the postal sector.

Advancing the postal sector’s contribution to sustainable development

Following ten years of reporting on carbon emissions and carbon management, and having achieved the two original targets set in 2008, the group now looks forward to the next phase of our programme – the Sustainability Monitoring and Measurement System (SMMS). Our aim is to build on the success and experience of the EMMS to inform our approach going forward. The seven sustainability focus areas (listed on page 12) have been decided upon following a two-year process involving research, consultation with internal and external stakeholders and multiple iterations. 

Stakeholder research conducted in 2016 indicated that the postal sector is considered a frontrunner in carbon management due to the success of the EMMS programme. However, the message from stakeholders was clear: in order to maintain this position, the programme must broaden and align its sustainability programme and objectives with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The global sustainability agenda has evolved significantly since the launch of the EMMS programme in 2008. Developments such as the Paris Agreement and the setting of the UN SDGs demonstrated an appetite for international cooperation. In response, many posts have already set strategies and begun working on themes that further the aims of the SDGs. However, to realise the greatest benefits from these efforts, there is now an increased need for an industry-level approach to deliver systematic improvements.

Together, our stakeholders and participants identified the following five SDGs that are most relevant to the postal sector: 
SDG 8 - Decent work and economic growth
SDG 9 - Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 11 - Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 - Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 - Climate action

Each SDG has several sub-targets associated with the overall goal. The content of the targets can vary widely, and so we asked our participants to rank the targets associated with each SDG and identify those most relevant to the sector. Then, through further collaboration and discussions with participants – for example, at the annual Sustainability Workshop – the group agreed on seven operational areas on which to focus our future programme:

  • Health and safety
    Decent work and economic growth (SDG 8)
  • Learning and development
    Decent work and economic growth (SDG 8
  • Resource efficiency
    Industry, innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9)
  • Climate change
    Climate action (SDG 13)
  • Air quality
    Sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11)
  • Circular economy
    Sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11)
  • Sustainable procurement
    Responsible consumption and production (SDG 12).

This report will be the last year of reporting on the original EMMS programme – data in this report relates to 2018. Much like the EMMS, the SMMS takes a comprehensive approach to performance assessment. The programme provides a common measurement and reporting structure, designed to drive significant and systematic improvements. It draws on the underlying principle of the original EMMS, which is that collaboration is key for success. IPC will therefore provide ongoing opportunities for participants to share and engage with each other on their strategies, progress and achievements. The SMMS programme, much like the EMMS, is based upon internationally accepted standards, will be third-party audited and reported on transparently. 

As with the EMMS, there will be two stages of data collection in the SMMS reporting process. The first stage is the qualitative assessment – the Sustainability Management Proficiency (SMP) Questionnaire – which will be assessed against four management pillars: Strategy & Policy, Embedding, Measurement & Evaluation and Disclosure & Reporting. This approach has been developed in line with recognised international best practice and is designed to assess the most crucial elements of sustainability management. They will instead answer questions on these four management pillars, in relation to the seven sustainability focus areas. Participants will continue to answer the most relevant sections from the original Carbon Management Proficiency (CMP) questionnaire that are integrated in the climate change section. This approach builds on the most effective elements from the original EMMS programme. This qualitative element is a key differentiator from other industry programmes, which often look primarily at quantitative performance metrics.

Then, participants will submit quantitative performance metrics – the Sustainability Performance Indicators (SPI) Calculator – on key performance indicators across a range of topics. This will allow the impact and efficacy of their management approaches to be measured and reported, to track performance improvement over time and enable posts to benchmark their performance against their peers. Individual company scores are never published; even within the group we only share anonymised scores, and only group-level scores are published externally. 

An underlying principle of the EMMS, and future SMMS, is the importance of collaboration in driving progress. This is demonstrated through the multiple opportunities for engagement and interaction our participants enjoy throughout the year. This of course extends beyond our sector to the wider sustainability community. We continue to value the many benefits of participation in external partnerships, including the UN Global Compact, the UN Caring for Climate, Science Based Targets Initiative, WWF’s Climate Savers, the We Mean Business coalition, and the UNFCCC’s Climate Neutral Now. The UN promotes the importance of such initiatives in progressing sustainable development through the existence of SDG 17 – ‘sustainable development through global partnerships’. Collaboration in furthering the global sustainability agenda is more important now than ever and we are proud of our ongoing contribution to the international corporate responsibility effort.