22 May 2018
Global Compact Identifies Canadian Business’ Priorities for SDGs
Photo by Lynn Wagner
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The Global Compact Network Canada’s 2018 SDG Survey aims to understand the priorities and perspectives of Canadian businesses on the SDGs.

SDG 13 (climate action) ranked as the top priority among respondents within Canada and within the world.

SDG 1 (no poverty) ranked as the second priority for Canada and the world, but was not a priority for companies.

8 May 2018: The Global Compact Network Canada (GCNC) has launched the findings of its third annual SDG Survey, identifying key priorities for Canadian businesses and organizations. According to the report, the 2018 survey reveals a gap between awareness, implementation and accountability.

Respondents indicated their priority SDGs for Canada, “the world,” and their own companies or organizations. For Canada, respondents prioritized: SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities), SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) and SDG 13 (climate action). For the world, respondents selected: Goals 1, 2 (zero hunger), 3 (good health and well-being), 4 (quality education), 5 (gender equality) and 13. For the respondents’ own organizations/businesses, they selected as priorities: SDGs 3, 4, 5, 8, 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) and 13. These correspond to issues that affect the respondents’ workforce and their companies’ long-term sustainability and success, the report authors note.

On SDG 5, the report states that gender equality has taken on “added significance recently” with the rise of worldwide marches to advance women’s rights, movements to combat sexual harassment and assault, and increased efforts towards gender pay equity and equal representation on boards. The report notes that Canada has taken a leadership role by advocating for gender equality in international trade agreements, in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and as part of its upcoming Group of 7 (G7) Presidency. GCNC is leading a project on gender equality that aims to engage the Canadian private sector in eliminating barriers faced by women in the workplace.

According to the report, a gap “still exists between awareness, implementation and accountability,” with only 13% of respondents highly engaged with the SDGs, including through measuring and reporting on their sustainability initiatives. Further, 19.6% of organizations said they embed the SDGs into corporate strategies but do not yet engage in reporting on the SDGs or conduct impact assessments. Another 33.7% of respondents said their organization does not align its strategies, goals or objectives with the SDGs. The report suggests that efforts to improve the disclosure of results will help make measurement “more uniform over time,” which will in turn support businesses to increase reporting on their contributions to and impacts on the SDGs in a comparable way.

Other findings highlighted in the report include: a consistent desire among respondents to engage in partnerships with government, industry and non-profits; interest in increased education, training and marketing of the SDGs; and challenges related to aligning the SDGs with long-term strategies and organizations’ internal priorities.

GCNC notes that the number of business and other stakeholders that have responded to the survey has increased each year. In 2018, there were 426 respondents, compared to 124 respondents in 2017, and 50 respondents in 2016. Helle Bank Jorgensen, GCNC, said this increase “indicates…a growing interest and familiarity with the SDGs at the organizational level over time.”

In the 2018 survey, the majority of respondents are from the private sector (44%), while 21% of respondents come from civil society organizations (CSOs) and 13% of respondents came from academia.

The department of Global Affairs Canada supports the annual SDG Survey. GCNC is the Canadian Network of the UN Global Compact (UNGC) and works to unify and build the capacity of the Canadian private sector to embrace sustainable business practices by convening and accelerating opportunities for multisector collaboration. [CSR Wire press release on 2018 SDG Survey] [SDG Survey 2018 website] [Launch webinar]

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