Aviva, the Index Initiative and the UN Foundation launched the World Benchmarking Alliance during Global Goals Week.
Five benchmarks will be developed by 2020 for: climate and energy, seafood, food and agriculture, gender equality and empowerment, and digital inclusion.
The launch follows a year of international consultations and roundtable discussions, which contributed to the WBA’s Final Consultation Publication.
24 September 2018: Aviva, the Index Initiative and the UN Foundation launched the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA), which will develop free, publicly available benchmarks that compare and rank companies’ performance on the SDGs. The Alliance aims to incentivize and accelerate private sector action on sustainable development.
Some companies have gone from partners to leaders in a race to the top.
During the launch event, which convened in New York, US, on 24 September 2018, Mark Wilson, Group CEO, Aviva, noted that the WBA’s objective is to make business the greatest force for good on our planet, but such an objective can only be met if CEOs, Boards and regulators think about the long term. Kathy Calvin, UN Foundation President and CEO, was among those underscoring the importance of private sector engagement, recognizing that some companies “have gone from partners to leaders” in a race to the top.
To trigger such a race, the WBA aims to increase transparency and accountability for businesses, and empower consumers, investors, governments and civil society to make decisions on where and how to spend money or allocate funds. Gerbrand Haverkamp, WBA Executive Director, notes that “the real value of benchmarks is that they will empower society to make decisions that are in line with societal values.” The WBA expects to have assessed 2,000 companies by 2023.
Five new benchmarks are being developed in collaboration with over 70 WBA Allies, to be published in 2020, for:
- Climate and energy
- Food and agriculture
- Gender equality and empowerment
- Digital inclusion
A post on the WBA website by Aviva’s Pauliina Murphy highlights that the benchmarks are “neither opt-in, nor opt-out.” Companies that have the largest impacts on sustainability, she notes, will be within the scope of the measurements, with the results being used to facilitate dialogues between investors and companies that spur behavior changes, eventually spotlighting the best and worst performers. As noted in the launch event’s press release, the WBA is working to “create a market that rewards corporate leadership while challenging those that lag behind.”
Martin Bille Hermann, Denmark’s State Secretary for Development Policy, emphasized that the rules by which companies play need to change such that they follow a “17-discipline game” which incorporates the social, environmental and economic dimensions of sustainable development. Sigrid Kaag, the Netherlands’ Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, similarly noted that companies need to deliver on a wide range of corporate responsibility issues including due diligence, access to justice, human rights and protection of the environment.
The launch follows a year of international consultations and roundtable discussions, which contributed to a ‘Final Consultation Publication.’ The publication describes: the WBA’s establishment and initial dialogues on SDG-focused benchmarks; the importance of young people to the sustainability agenda; SDG corporate benchmarks on “leaving no company behind”; developing the methodology to build a set of benchmarks; and intersections between industries and the SDGs.