The Green Glossary.
Don’t lose yourself in the jungle of complex words and concepts related to eco-sustainability. Find the definitions you need by using the headwords down below.
Agroforestry is an agricultural method whereby trees, shrubs and annual crops are grown on the same land, thus creating a forest-like level of complexity which enhances the stability and resilience of the agricultural system.
The Anthropocene – literally the ‘age of humans’ – is a term used to describe the geological era in which human activities grew to be the dominant force modifying planet Earth. This period is characterized by large-scale environmental changes caused by population growth, industrialisation and the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels.
The B Corp is a voluntary certification that assesses the overall social and environmental performance of a company against a series of strict standards.
A benefit company is characterised by a business model that seeks profit in order to be economically sustainable while at the same time striving to create a positive impact on individuals, communities and territories.
Biodiversity is the variety of living organisms on Earth, including animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms. Each of these species has its own unique peculiarities and works in synergy with the others to maintain balance in ecosystems and sustain life.
Biodynamic agriculture is an approach that views the whole agricultural system as an interconnected living organism, seeking to harmonise it with natural and cosmic rhythms to improve soil health, biodiversity and the quality of the food produced.
Bioenergy refers to energy obtained from biological or organic materials through natural or technological processes.
A biofuel is a fuel – liquid, gaseous or solid – produced from organic matter such as alcohol used as fuel and produced from fermented sugar. Wood, grass and agricultural residues are some of the most common biofuels.
The blue economy is an economic paradigm based on the sustainable and responsible management of marine and coastal resources. This approach aims to promote economic prosperity by recognising the intrinsic value and vital role of the oceans in global well-being.
A carbon credit is a certificate or trading permit that represents the right to emit 1 tonne of CO2 or CO2-equivalent.
The carbon cycle represents the process by which carbon flows through the atmosphere, soil, living organisms and oceans. This cycle is crucial for climate regulation and the functioning of terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
The carbon footprint represents the total amount of carbon emitted by an individual, thus measuring its impact on the environment and climate.
Achieving carbon neutrality means reducing net CO2 emissions to zero, offsetting the emissions that cannot not be reduced by removing the same amount of CO2 from the atmosphere.
The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is an international non-profit organisation that promotes transparency and information management related to greenhouse gas emissions, climate change risks and opportunities, and the sustainability of companies and cities.
Circular economy is an economic model that resembles a closed circle in which resources are deployed to their maximum potential and waste is minimised. In a circular economy, the environmental impact of production and consumption is greatly reduced.
Climate action calls for a determined and immediate response to the global climate crisis through the implementation of policies, strategies and practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote the sustainable use of resources and support adaptation to ongoing changes.
Climate change refers to the variation of climate over time due to human activities and natural variability. These variations are measured in the long term and affect all components of the climate system, including weather conditions.
Climate crisis is a term that frames climate change within the proper coordinates of magnitude, urgency and liability. It describes the traumatic disruption of all components of the climate system caused by human activities.
Climate justice is a concept that recalls the multiple and interconnected systems of inequality that can be recognised in the causes as well as the consequences of the climate crisis.
Climate refugees are individuals or groups who are forced to leave their homes or regions due to climate change-related environmental changes.
The formula CO2 stands for carbon dioxide, an odourless and colourless gas found in nature and generated by human activities such as the use of fossil fuels. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, meaning a gas that traps in the atmosphere part of the solar radiation reflected from the earth, thus causing global warming.
CO2 equivalent (CO2e) is a unit of measurement that expresses the impact of each greenhouse gas in terms of the amount of CO2.
The code of ethics is a voluntary tool that a company adopts to lay out the moral and social standards with which all its employees must comply.
The Conference of the Parties (COP) is an annual summit which gathers all countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Corporate governance represents the set of rules, practices and structures through which a company is guided, managed and monitored.
Decarbonisation is the adoption by governments, companies or even individuals of measures to reduce their carbon emissions, e.g. by cutting back on the use of fossil fuels that cause CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere to rise.
Deforestation consists of completely clearing or removing a significant portion of forest from an area, usually in order to devolve the land to other uses.
Degraded land are soils that have suffered a significant loss of quality and fertility due to processes such as erosion, salinisation, compaction, chemical degradation and deforestation.
Desertification occurs when the soil of an arid area is drained of its organic substance due to various factors, including human activities such as intensive livestock farming.
The digital footprint refers to greenhouse gas emissions, in particular CO2, generated by activities related to the use of digital technologies and online platforms.
Eco-sustainability is a paradigm that aims at preserving the balance of natural ecosystems over the long term, while meeting current needs without compromising those of future generations.
Energy efficiency represents a set of strategies, practices and technologies aimed at optimising the use of energy, reducing waste and improving efficiency in energy production, transformation and utilisation processes. In short, it means being able to do the same things with smaller energy consumption.
Environmental impact refers to the consequences and effects of human activities on nature, including biodiversity, health, ecosystems and the delicate balance of the planet.
Environmental sustainability is achieved by managing natural resources in such a way that current needs are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
ESG stands for ‘Environmental, Social, and Governance’, and is a set of criteria that companies and investors consider to assess the overall impact of a business or organisation. The evaluation covers the management of the business, its impacts on the environment and on society.
EU climate transition benchmarks are a type of financial index introduced by the European Union to provide investors with the information they need to invest in instruments that fight climate change.
The European Union Emission Trading System (ETS) is a tool aimed at industries and developed by the EU to achieve the goal of net zero emissions by 2050.
Food security means guaranteed access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food. Erasing food insecurity is important to enable all people in the world to lead active and healthy lives.
Fossil fuels are energy resources of organic origin, such as coal, oil and natural gas, which were formed over millions of years through the decomposition of plant and animal remains.
The G20, short for ‘Group of Twenty’, is an international forum gathering the world’s major advanced and emerging economies that meets annually to discuss global economic and financial issues.
Global warming is the phenomenon whereby global surface temperatures rise due to the accumulation in the atmosphere of greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane. These gases trap part of the solar radiation that reaches the Earth and are reflected back, thus retaining heat and causing the temperature on the Earth’s surface to rise.
A green bond is a financial tool associated with the investment in projects with a positive environmental impact.
The green economy is a paradigm based on the balance between economic development and environmental protection.
Greenhouse gas emissions refer to the release of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere – the so-called ‘greenhouse effect’ – thus causing global warming.
GRS stands for Global Recycle Standard and is an international standard concerning the sustainable production of garments and textile products from recycled materials.
ISO certifications are international standards that establish guidelines and requirements to ensure quality, efficiency and sustainability in various industries.
Land grabbing is the practice whereby external entities, such as companies or foreign governments, take hold of large tracts of land without the consent or benefit of the local communities living on such land.
The LCA, or Life Cycle Assessment, is a method for objectively assessing and quantifying the environmental footprint associated with a product, service or activity throughout its entire life cycle.
Megadiverse is a term that applies to territories that include a significant amount of native ecosystems hosting an exceptional level of biodiversity.
Mitigation consists of human interventions aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions or enhancing their absorption, in order to reduce the impacts of climate change.
Modern slavery represents a reality in which individuals are exploited and deprived of their fundamental rights, often in conditions similar to historical slavery, but in contemporary social, economic and legal contexts.
A monoculture is an agricultural system that is built on the intensive cultivation of a single crop over a large area of land to increase production yield at the expense of biodiversity and ecosystem resilience.
Ocean acidification is a process in which the pH of seawater decreases due to the absorption of atmospheric CO2, causing chemical changes with significant impacts on marine ecosystems and biodiversity.
Carbon offsetting is an activity aimed at compensating for the emission of a certain amount of carbon dioxide, or other greenhouse gases. This is done by preventing or absorbing the emission of the same quantity of carbon elsewhere.
Organic farming is an agricoltural approach based on respecting the natural balance of ecosystems and animals through sustainable practices and the ban of chemical inputs such as pesticides and synthetic fertilisers.
The Paris Agreement is an international treaty on climate change whose ratifiers pledge to keep the global average temperature increase well below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels and to strive to limit the increase to 1.5°C.
Permaculture is an agricultural design method that integrates human activity with the natural environment to create self-sufficient and efficient ecosystems.
Reforestation consists of restoring degraded or deforested areas by planting trees and restoring forest ecosystems.
The Science Based Targets (SBTi) initiative is a platform that promotes ambitious climate actions in the private sector, enabling organisations to set emission reduction targets based on the latest scientific findings.
Scope 1, 2 and 3 are three categories that companies refer to when reporting greenhouse gas emissions generated from their own operations and throughout the value chain.
Sea level rise is an increasing elevation of ocean waters on the earth’s surface due to rising global temperatures.
Socially responsible investing is a financial approach that aims to achieve financial returns while considering the social and moral impacts of investment decisions.
The sustainability report is a non-financial reporting document in which a company communicates its environmental, social and corporate governance performance and the progress accomplished.
Sustainable investing, or also called impact investing, aims to achieve financial returns while promoting a long-term environmental or social impact.
Transition risks refer to the challenges and uncertainties that economies, businesses and societies may face in the process of transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy.
Weather refers to atmospheric conditions such as temperature, precipitation and wind, on a shorter time scale than climate, typically on a daily basis. Weather describes natural events of short duration, at a specific place and time.
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