Companies Highlight Benefits of Investing in SDGs, Green Economy
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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Businesses and companies are continuing to make contributions to the SDGs.

The UN Global Compact has established a Corporate Action Group for ‘Reporting on the SDGs,’ which is part of a comprehensive Tool Box to help companies achieve sustainability and contribute to the SDGs.

In addition, the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is partnering to make cities more sustainable, the insurance industry is helping to advance the SDGs, the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) is encouraging investments in the green economy, and Dutch fund managers are developing a standard for SDG investments.

July 2017: The UN Global Compact has established a Corporate Action Group for ‘Reporting on the SDGs,’ which is part of a comprehensive toolbox to help companies achieve sustainability and advance the SDGs. Other recent private sector actions include: the UN Industrial Development Organization’s (UNIDO) partnerships to make cities more sustainable; the insurance industry’s efforts to implement the SDGs; the Partnership for Action on Green Economy’s (PAGE) encouragement of investments in the green economy; and Dutch fund managers development of a standard for SDG investments.

The UN Global Compact and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) have formed the Corporate Action Group for ‘Reporting on the SDGs,’ to enable businesses to incorporate SDG reporting into their existing processes to help achieve the SDGs, with an emphasis on making reporting more accessible to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Expected outcomes of the initiative include a list of business disclosures across the SDGs, a publication on best practice SDG reporting, and further integration of the SDGs into the UN Global Compact Communication on Progress framework and the GRI Standards. The GRI helps businesses, governments and other organizations understand and communicate the impact of business on sustainability issues and provides standards on sustainability reporting and disclosure. [Brochure on Corporate Action Group for Reporting on the SDGs]

The ‘Reporting on the SDGs’ initiative is one of a number of Action Platforms that is included in the UN Global Compact 2018 Toolbox. Other Platforms address, inter alia, financial innovation, health, low carbon and resilient development, and decent work in global supply chains. Action Platforms on ‘Anti-Corruption and Good Governance’ and ‘Water Stewardship in Support of the SDGs’ will be launched towards the end of 2017. The 2018 Toolbox aims to help companies achieve sustainability and contribute to the SDGs, and also includes a curriculum that will be delivered globally and locally in partnership with Global Compact Local Networks. In addition, the Toolbox includes: a Navigator, a digital tool that will enable companies to self-assess their performance and measure progress with respect to the Global Compact’s Ten Principles and the SDGs. Another tool is the Global Opportunity Explorer platform, which depends on co-creation and crowdsourcing to expand the existing pool of sustainable innovation, and connects solutions to sustainable markets based on the Global Compact’s Global Opportunity Reports, which is comprised of 45 market opportunities addressing the SDGs. Other tools include: partnerships, many of which are highlighted in the UN-Business Action Hub; SDG Pioneers, business leaders who are doing an “exceptional job” of advancing the SDGs; and Global Compact LEAD, a recognition given to companies engaging in two or more Action Platforms. [UN Global Compact Tool Box]

The elements of the Toolbox are part of the UN Global Compact’s multi-year strategy to advance business awareness and action that supports the SDGs, as further elaborated in the report ‘Making Global Goals Local Business.’ The report discusses interconnected megatrends that are driving the “new era of business and opening up new horizons for transformative change” as well as how businesses are contributing to the SDGs. [Publication: Making Global Goals Local Business]

UNIDO and the Organization for International Economic Relations (OiER) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to enhance their cooperation in integrating the private sector into development efforts, by expanding collaboration on sustainable cities, renewable energy and institutional capacity building. UNIDO and OieR will: step up efforts to engage the private sector in implementing the New Urban Agenda to achieve SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities); seek sources to fund projects in sectors of mutual interest; and develop innovative business models for cooperating with the private sector. The MoU will also help advance SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy) and SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals), among others. OiER is a multi-stakeholder business platform that supports economic cooperation and sustainable investment in countries and cities. [UNIDO Press Release]

Urging the global insurance industry to step up support for the SDGs, Microinsurance Network members underscored the critical role of microinsurance in helping vulnerable populations manage risks and realizing the SDGs. During a Network member meeting in Luxembourg, from 27-28 June 2017, participants stressed that enhancing microinsurance requires developing the sector’s infrastructure, including research and data collection. They also emphasized that the insurance industry must help deliver: risk management services that enable poor and vulnerable populations to better understand and reduce risk; affordable insurance products tailored to their specific needs and circumstances; and support for sustainability by investing in, inter alia, low-emission technologies and climate and disaster-resilient infrastructure. Insurance plays a major role in achieving SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 3 (good health and well-being), SDG 5 (gender equality), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) and SDG 13 (climate action), as well as a more indirect role in advancing many other SDGs. The Microinsurance Network brings together stakeholders from across the insurance value chain to mitigate risks faced by poor and vulnerable populations. [UNEP Finance Initiative Press Release] [Microinsurance Network Website]

In the Netherlands, 18 financial institutions, managing around €2900 billion in assets, are collaborating to invest in the SDGs. Many of them contributed to the report ‘Building Highways to SDG Investing,’ in which the Dutch financial sector presents recommendations for the government and the Dutch central bank on how to collaborate in financing the SDGs. The report recommends developing blended finance structures, which will enable more private capital to be invested in SDGs through risk sharing with governments, as well as returns on investments for consumers. The report also suggests how to measure and report the societal impact of investments through specific indicators. Two of these institutions, fund managers APG and PGGM, have developed a standard methodology, or taxonomy, to identify investment opportunities linked to 13 SDGs, and to support other institutional investors who want to increase their impact investments. APG is aiming to invest €58 billion in 2020. PGGM has already invested €10 billion for one of its clients, where market rate returns are aligned with positive impacts on climate, food security, water availability and health care. [APG Press Release] [PGGM Press Release] [Publication: Building Highways to SDG Investing]

On the margins of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), PAGE convened a side event on ‘Recalibrating Market Forces: How Greener and More Inclusive Economies and Finance are Delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals.’ The event discussed: progress in green development and innovative ways that green policies are contributing to the SDGs; how greener economies can generate decent green jobs that contribute to climate mitigation and adaptation, poverty eradication and social inclusion; and how PAGE helps governments create an enabling environment for investment, and gives green enterprise, trade and jobs “a place to flourish.”

During the event, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator, Achim Steiner, emphasized to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs, countries must transform their economic models and shift to more sustainable production and consumption patterns through green economy approaches, public sector incentives, and an enabling regulatory and policy environment. He further stressed the critical role of private sector investments in addressing climate change and advancing the SDGs, which can open new markets, increase competitiveness, lead to greater savings, protect long-term profits, enable companies and countries to leapfrog technologically, and respond to evolving consumer demand and shareholder interests. He highlighted the importance of partnerships, pointing to PAGE and the Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI) as examples of such collaboration. PAGE coordinates UN action on the green economy and assists countries in achieving and monitoring the SDGs, especially SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth). [UNDP Press Release] [Statement of UNDP Administrator] [Event Website] [PAGE Website]

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