Airports Council International (ACI) World has released a first of its kind guide for airports, the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Management Best Practice.

The new guide has been designed to help airports define and strengthen their ESG reporting framework to position themselves for growth.

As airports continue to recover, they are faced with the pre-pandemic challenge of investing in infrastructure to meet future air traffic demand, while also ensuring that they design, construct, and operate in a way that is economically sustainable, inclusive, and socially and environmentally responsible.

As such, airports are increasingly adopting an ESG reporting framework to meet their investors’ dynamic needs and requests for information on performance and risk mitigation, while also building an inclusive institutional framework that achieves good governance, compliance, and stewardship. Growing areas of ESG interest include public health, climate, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Airports now have an opportunity to take the lead and define key airport ESG factors that anticipate and respond to financial market, customer, and community needs. A pre-emptive ESG focus by airports can help standardize factors important to capital projects and operational activities, allowing airports to set, track, and report on internally agreed-upon metrics, versus responding to the growing and varied requests from investors, accounting and/or auditing agencies.

“While many airports already report ESG performance, a strengthened approach on new ESG factors can offer airports access to much needed capital for a quicker recovery and long-term sustainability,” said ACI World director general Luis Felipe de Oliveira. “Rebuilding airports and economies meets ESG investors and airports’ shared heightened interest in solutions that act with urgency to combat climate change and social inequities that were amplified during this global pandemic.

“Airports should seek to define and provide the detailed, data focused ESG disclosures that investors, credit rating agencies, and accounting firms are increasingly requiring. Failing to do so could limit an airport’s future investor demand in the capital markets.”

The ESG Management Best Practice seeks to answer common questions among airports looking to start, improve, or expand their ESG reporting, including how ESG reporting differs from sustainability reporting, how airports are reporting, why investors are interested, and how airports can adopt the framework. The guidance was developed by the ESG Reporting sub-group of the ACI World Environment Standing Committee.