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Social licence to operate front and centre in ISCA’s rating tool update

Ainsley Simpson
Ainsley Simpson

Six years after being launched, the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia’s (ISCA) rating tool is getting an update, with “social licence to operate” to become an important addition.

The Infrastructure Sustainability (IS) rating tool provides an assessment of an infrastructure asset’s sustainability performance. Set for release on 1 July, IS V2.0 has been described as a “step change” for the tool, with a number of major category updates including on context, sustainable procurement, resources, legacy, and leadership & management. At the same time new categories are being added related to resilience, business case, benefits realisation, green infrastructure and workforce sustainability.

Where the original tool covered five themes – management and governance; using resources; emissions, pollution and waste; ecology, people and place; and innovation – the new tool is rationalised to four themes – governance, economic, environment and social.

It is understood the social category is being strengthened in order to boost the tool’s ability to deal with issues related to community support and a project’s social licence to operate.

“IS V2.0 supports the commitments across [Australia and New Zealand] for transparency and continued measurable improvement in the quality of infrastructure planning, decision-making and delivery,” an ISCA statement said.

“This is made possible through appropriate approaches for social acceptance by key stakeholders, be they Indigenous partners, local communities, commuters or consumers.”

The rework of the tool will also help it better align with global sustainability frameworks like the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals and Global Reporting Initiative, ISCA said.

The new tool comes following the resignation of ISCA chief executive Anthony Sprigg, with Ainsley Simpson appointed chief operating officer and acting chief executive.

Ms Simpson said the new tool would challenge the infrastructure value chain to go further in terms of “planning, designing, building and maintaining efficient and resilient assets”.

The updates have seen 157 individuals from 99 organisations spend more than 1300 hours reviewing categories, though industry is still being invited to participate in a final review process.

“The tremendous investment from industry has ensured that the tool is flexible, accommodating of the complex nature of infrastructure, and importantly, remains a credible third-party verified approach to demonstrating value for money,” Ms Simpson said.

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