Ethical Corporation's Responsible Business Trends report 2018 highlights the need for strategic integration and measurement of the SDGs within business if the Global Goals are to be achieved by 2030
The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed upon by UN-Member states in 2015, are increasingly serving as a strategic signpost for businesses around the globe. By some estimates they have the potential to unlock US$12 Trillion in new growth opportunities.
Integrating the SDGs into business strategy
Ethical Corporation’s new Responsible Business Trends Report 2018, the fourth iteration of the report, highlights that 69% of corporate brands across the globe stated their business is integrating the SDGs into the business strategy – an increase of 9% on last year’s study and a 23% increase on the 2016 report. Of the 31% that said they’re not integrating the SDGs into business strategy, 40% said they are looking to do this in the future, while 49% said they did not know.
The region where there’s the highest level of integration within business strategies is Asia/Pacific, where it is 76% (up from 66% in 2017) followed by Europe 74% (59%), and finally North America 61% (56% in 2017).
Sharing views on the report's findings Louise Scott, director of global sustainability at PwC, states "It is great to see further evidence of what we are seeing in the market – that increasingly sustainability is driving mainstream strategy, which is reflective of the increase in the number of businesses that are aligning to the SDGs, together with another improvement in the proportion of CEOs that are convinced of the value of sustainability. Respondents recognise the role of business as a key driving force for ensuring the goals are met - and so this combination is critical for the success of the SDGs."
SDG measurement, reporting and communication
There’s been increasing focus and discussion at Ethical Corporation events about using the SDGs as a framework to report and communicate sustainability impacts. Just over half of the 602 respondents stated their company is using the SDGs as a reporting and communications framework.
There is a risk that companies use the SDGs as a communication tool without much actual adaption to strategy or measurement of their impact towards the Goals, in other words SDG-wash.
Over half of the respondents (56%) stated that their company isn’t measuring its contribution to the SDGs. North American respondents stated the lowest level of measured targets against the SDGs (36%), followed by Asia/Pacific (46%) and finally Europe (47%).
These findings link with recent studies by KPMG and WBCSD, both of which found that while a large majority of companies refer to the SDGs in their reporting, fewer than 10% actually have targets that measure their contribution to the SDGs.
SDG focus across the globe
To ascertain any differences in SDG focus and adoption around the globe, respondents were asked to highlight the SDGs that their business is engaging in. Goal 13 on climate action came out on top, with 65% (62% in 2017) already engaging on meeting this SDG. Goal 8 on decent work and economic growth was second with 60% (58% in 2017) and Goal 3 on good health and well-being was third with 57% (60% in 2017).
The report is available as a free download. Simply click to access your copy of the report and discover further insights into SDG adoption as well as; ROI from sustainability, future business opportunities and focus on the Paris Agreement.
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