Earlier this month, I was pleased to speak at the National Housing Federation’s Audit and Risk Conference in Birmingham. During our panel discussion, called taking stock of where we are on ESG, I reflected on the opportunities and risks that ESG reporting presents to the social housing sector. Some of my reflections are set out below:
- We heard agreement that we need to include more on supply chain performance, and biodiversity (and I would add climate adaptation – living with heat, reducing surface water flooding and improving water efficiency)
- There continues to be much discussion about the danger of greenwash/tick box mentality and for the need for metrics to reach down into culture change
- The case is starting to be made for audit of ESG/SRS returns – we’ve so far seen this with one G15 housing association, but expect more to follow suit
- Some funders have started to make the case for half-year reporting of ESG/SRS
- As a sector we do have much good practice and a lot to teach other sectors. But we mustn’t overclaim on the ‘S’ – especially given the horrendous stories we have seen in recent weeks and months relating to damp and mould and disrepair.
Martin Hurst, board member, SfH