EASEY - Ecological And Social EfficiencY
The motivation to accomplish this project was based on the intention to develop an integrative concept for the evaluation of sustainability achievements of enterprises noted at Vienna's stock exchange. In this context integrative stands for a concept of sustainable development, which considers three dimensions at the same time: the ecological, the economic and the social dimension.
Furthermore the intention is based on the insight that regarding the sustainable development of the Austrian enterprises the financial market plays a key role.
The following restrictions are to be considered:
- The underdeveloped financial market in Austria,
- the development arrears in the use of methods for the socio-ecological security analysis particularly in comparison with Switzerland.
The development of the evaluation concept also implied the intention of making a contribution in order to catch up these arrears.
In the interim report the emphasis of the representation was put on the comparison and the evaluation of existing concepts of socio-ecological security analysis and/or similar methods for the evaluation of enterprisis. In this final report we present an evaluation concept (model and set of appropriate indicators) as well as an overview of the present basic conditions for its implementation at the Vienna stock exchange (feasibility), the documentation of the development from the existing concepts to the EASEY method of evaluation. This development is characterised by project team and expert workshops as well as workshops with internal and external stakeholders (synthesising process).
A goal of this project was the creation of a manual of indicators as well as the ascertainment of the chances of its practical application in the evaluation of enterprises at the Vienna stock exchange. Thus this manual represents the basis for the development of an EASEY sustainability index in a next project step.
The modus operandi was adopted from the method set of the qualitative social research and consisted of (in the order of application) 'Desk Research', secondary analysis of data and concepts, brainstorming, theme-focused group interviews and workshops as well as two opinion polls. Particularly the contacts with the enterprises are set out to be long-term and a action research concept. Included were managements of selected enterprises, their internal and external stakeholder as well as experts. The first opinion poll - commissioned by us - was carried out by Gallup with a representative sample of the Austrian population (investor potential) - the second one we carried out ourselves, sending a questionnaire to the emitters and KAG's (feasibility).
The reports (business, environment, sustainability) of the enterprises as well as current research results are secondary data we used. Primary data we have won in the workshops and telephone interviews. So far these are available in a ‘verbal' and unscaled form. The opinion poll data are available verbal, qualitatively and scaled.
What we call the 'Synthesizing Process', the gradual unification of different evaluation concepts, the views of the stakeholder and that one of the experts, has produced results on two levels:
- Manual of sustainability indicators on the corporate level as well as a model to their interpretation;
- A publicity for the topic 'sustainability and finance market Austria' where different groups and interests have stepped into a common dialogue.
A part of this public welcomes the EASEY project, because 'finally' also in Austria research is done on this topic and it won't be necessary anymore to look what contribution our neighbouring countries in the European Union or Switzerland make. Another proportion of the public regards this development as a contribution to neo-liberal politics particularly as an emphasis on private offers for old-age provisions.
One project result serves the covering of both requests: Research and marketing - www.easey.at. From the accomplishment of the task structuring, web communication for EASEY the project gained some learning effects. Regarding the feasibility of an EASEY index two options were available in order to reach an attention level in relation to the topic sustainability for the purposes of EASEY-project marketing:
- Medium daily paper (economical option with multiple purpose among other things. covering marketing and research requests) (failed for lack of interest of the newspapers).
- Representative poll (cost-intensive option addressed solely to financial market public) (realised, culminated in the meeting on July 4th 'COUNT down').
Based on the situation at the beginning of the EASEY project in the middle of 2001 (=orientation on offers from other European Union countries and Switzerland) our target group of emitters, financial market participants and experts now won an Austrian perspective regarding co-operation for the development of suitable sustainable products.
Mobilisable participants could be identified. The commitment arose, that the EASEY index is desired. Furthermore the market demand according the number of persons, demographic characteristics as well as annually available amounts for sustainable investment was raised and analysed. The demand potential has doubled compared with the expectations at the beginning of the project - approx.. 700,000 persons and approximately. 250 millions per year. The most urgent call for action is directed towards the financial service providers.
The vote of the emitters according to their market capitalisation in the Prime Market of Vienna's stock exchange showed a clear result: 18 billion for and approximately 4 billion against the introduction of a EASEY sustainability index. Some enterprises (VoestAlpine, VATech, Andritz, EVN, Verbund) want to take part financially in the upcoming next project step. Some financial service providers are ready for research co-operation (BankAustria, Stage1.cc, Investkredit, Erste Bank, Kommunalkredit Austria). A launch of the EASEY index in the middle of 2003 has thus high chances for success. In a medium-term perspective we do already expect - under the prerequisite of a spreading of the evaluation method in Austria - positive effects on quality of location (supplies of infrastructure and services for rating and consultation) and the competitive ability (chances for growth for sustainable business initiatives).
The EASEY index enables the national sustainability strategy to push the comparatively most exposed part of the sustainability policy - the financial market - to evince it's stance. This can under certain conditions become effective in the whole European Union (also see installation of a working group 'sustainability and finance market Austria').
Dr. Reinhard Paulesich,
Institut für Wirtschaftsgeographie, Regionalentwicklung und Umweltwirtschaft,
Abteilung für Wirtschaft und Umwelt;
A - 1090, Rossauer Lände 23
Tel: 0043 1 31336 - 5721;