Guide Facilitates Businesses’ Integration of SDGs into Corporate Reporting
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The Global Reporting Initiative and UN Global Compact released a guide as part of an Action Platform on Reporting on the SDGs.

Titled, ‘Integrating the SDGs into Corporate Reporting: A Practical Guide,’ the paper provides a three-step process to define priority SDG targets, measure and analyze progress, and report change.

The document articulates a process of “principled prioritization” for the SDGs, identifying two main entry points for companies.

1 August 2018: The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and UN Global Compact launched a publication that offers guidance to companies seeking to integrate the SDGs within their corporate sustainability reporting. The paper describes a process through which companies can prioritize SDG actions and impacts without “cherry-picking” Goals that they already positively contribute to, and highlights principles for effective, comprehensive reporting.

Titled, ‘Integrating the SDGs into Corporate Reporting: A Practical Guide,’ the document follows two papers launched in the past year by GRI and UN Global Compact, completing a three-part toolkit on enhancing businesses’ engagement with the SDGs. The guide aims to help companies prioritize SDG targets for action and reporting, regardless of their size or scope, as well as assist businesses with measurement of progress. In doing so, the paper helps businesses move beyond “simply” mapping their activities to the SDGs.

Reporting is a strategic tool to engage stakeholders, support decision making, shape business strategy and attract investments.

The publication outlines a three-step process to: define priority SDG targets and impacts; set and measure objectives, and analyze performance; and “report, integrate and implement change.” Each step features three sub-components, each of which are supported by SDG examples and other entry points for action. The process explicitly avoids creating a new reporting framework. Instead, it builds on existing principles and guidelines, including GRI’s Sustainability Reporting Standards, UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, as well as outputs from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Following these guidelines, the publication sets out a process of “principled prioritization” for the SDGs. The approach, the paper notes, includes consideration of two entry points: 1) risks to people and the environment; and 2) beneficial SDG-related products, services and investments. These entry points allow companies to address negative impacts from their operations or value chains and apply their knowledge, skills and capabilities in contribution to the SDGs. The guide highlights that the process further enables companies to align their strategies and resource allocations with their impacts and disclosures, as well as identify whether new actions or strategy alterations are needed.

The publication underscores that reporting is a strategic tool to engage stakeholders, support decision making, shape business strategy and attract investments, noting that it is “neither the start nor the end of a company’s sustainability strategy.” With the SDGs also catching the attention of investors, the paper emphasizes the strong business case for investing in opportunities that are aligned with the Goals. However, it warns that companies must avoid “SDG-washing” which the authors define as reporting positive contributions to the SDGs while ignoring important negative impacts. They highlight that a principled prioritization process is designed to help companies avoid “cherry-picking” Goals or targets and therefore avoid SDG-washing.

The paper was developed with expert input from Shift, technical support from PwC and financial support from the Government of Sweden, as part of a broader Action Platform on Reporting on the SDGs. It is intended to be used in conjunction with the other knowledge products available through the platform and its partners, and maps which tools can support each of the five steps of SDG engagement defined by the SDG Compass. [Publication: Integrating the SDGs into Corporate Reporting: A Practical Guide] [GRI Press Release] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Preceding ‘In Focus’ Report] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Preceding ‘Business Reporting on the SDGs’ Report] [Business Reporting on the SDGs Homepage]

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