CSOs, Private Sector Analyze Companies’ SDG Engagement
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
story highlights

Civil society organizations and the private sector published reports on private sector engagement with the SDGs, which highlight both limited engagement as well as examples of companies that have taken concrete action towards the Goals.

CSOs and the private sector also released a series of tools to support companies’ sustainability reporting and increase accountability and transparency on their contributions to SDGs.

12 December 2016: Civil society organizations (CSOs) and the private sector have published reports on the private sector’s engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and released a series of tools to support companies’ sustainability reporting and increase accountability and transparency on their contributions to SDGs.

Corporate Citizenship released a report, titled ‘Advancing the SDGs: Business Action and Millennials’ Views,’ which finds that 81%of surveyed millennials believe the private sector has a key role to play in achieving the SDGs. At the same time, the report finds, the majority of companies surveyed are not yet taking action to address the SDGs. The authors highlight “a shockingly large ‘trust deficit’ between what millennials hope the private sector will do and what business is actually doing.”

Also on the private sector’s SDG engagement, Ethical Corporation released its second annual ‘State of Responsible Business 2016’ report, finding that fewer than 50% of global companies plan to engage with the SDGs. The authors surveyed 2,045 sustainability professionals globally, exploring progress on business sustainability, with a focus on progress on climate change, integration of business and sustainability strategies, and the relationship between business and sustainability, among other topics.

In contrast, DNV GL released a forecast report, titled ‘The Future of Spaceship Earth,’ which highlights action by 17 companies to support achievement on the SDGs. For each SDG, the report showcases action by companies to support progress towards the Goal and its targets. Featured companies include: Tata (SDG 1); Danone (SDG 2); HiTechnologies (SDG 3); ARM (SDG 4); Symantec (SDG 5); Grundfos (SDG 6); SolarWorld (SDG 7); NYK (SDG 8); Hydro (SDG 9); Safaricom (SDG 10); Siemens (SDG 11); Marks & Spencer (SDG 12); Iberdrola (SDG 13); Cermaq (SDG 14); APP (SDG 15); Calvert Investments (SDG 16); and Unilever (SDG 17). The report identifies common characteristics among companies taking specific action on the SDGs, including a view of the SDGs as a way to achieve comparative advantage, an ability to understand the potential of combining growth and sustainability, support for collaboration, and use of technology to increase scale and reach.

The 2016 survey highlights climate change and human rights as key priorities for corporate sustainability action.

The annual GlobeScan/BSR ‘State of Sustainable Business Survey 2016’ presents the results of the eighth annual survey of nearly 300 sustainable business leaders from over 150 companies. The report finds that sustainability is being incorporated into company’s decision-making and practices, and highlights climate change and human rights as key priorities for corporate sustainability action. At the same time, the report finds that the proportion of companies engaged in implementing sustainability activities has not changed significantly since 2015, underscoring the need for the private sector to step up implementation to contribute to the SDGs.

On accountability and transparency, Teresa Fogelberg, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), highlights two tools for tracking companies’ reporting and progress towards sustainability: the GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards; and the UN SDG Target 12.6 Live Tracker. The GRI Standards, which are based on the GRI G4 Guidelines, allow companies to report their economic, environmental and social contributions to the SDGs using a common language and system on topics such as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy and water use. The Live Tracker for SDG target 12.6 (Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle) provides users with access to sustainability reports and other sustainability information. Users can search the database for specific organizations or topics.[State of Responsible Business 2016] [Advancing the SDGs] [DNV GL Report Website] [GlobeScan Report Website] [GRI Blog] [GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards] [GRI Press Release on Standards] [UN SDG Target 12.6 Live Tracker] [The Guardian Article on Business Engagement with the SDGs]

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