Transforming the Business Model: Schemes for Communicating Your Organization’s Progress on the SDGs

Data collection on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represents a crucial aspect of achieving the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In particular, companies and organizations have a fantastic opportunity to communicate and report their objectives and success on attaining the Global Goals.

The Global Goals are universal social and economic targets that are interlinked with the missions, values, and purpose of diverse businesses and organizations.  Nonetheless, it is important to consider a framework that aids entities of different sizes, with varied budgets, to report their initiatives on the SDGs to their stakeholders (investors and consumers).

According to EY, communicating progress on the SDGs include:

  • Connecting them to the material topics and policies of the organization or company (e.g. performing a materiality analysis)
  • Outlining the company’s positive and negative linkages with the Global Goals
  • Explaining the significance to the company of working towards achieving relevant SDGs
  • Describing the organization’s targets, initiatives, policies, and progress on the SDGs

Other resources that organizations and businesses can explore to enhance their reporting efforts include the SDG Compass’s Inventory of Business Indicators and the UN Global Compact’s Action Platform for Reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals.  Additionally, SustainAbility recently published a survey of 500 sustainability professionals about progress on the Global Goals.  An interesting observation from the survey is that to integrate the SDGs in their corporate strategies, organizations are generating products or services that contribute solutions to the Goals.  For instance, the United States Council for International Business’s Initiative, Business for 2030, documents that in order to ensure energy for all, Pirelli Tire North America developed a Carbon Action Plan, so as to increase the use of energy from renewable sources with projects such as photovoltaic power plants, a cogeneration plant powered by vegetable oil, and a biomass plant for steam generation.

Another consideration for companies and organizations, is how to communicate the human rights aspect of their work on the Global Goals. In a recently published viewpoint by Shift, Caroline Rees notes the linkages between value creation, engaging stakeholders, and the corporate responsibility to respect human rights:

  • “That implementing respect for human rights is not just a matter of compliance to be achieved simply through audit and data tracking, but instead requires capacity building, innovation, collaboration and leadership;
  • That this positive impact of respecting human rights can drive transformative change at scale, in particular through collaborative uses of leverage across value chains that have the power to improve the lives of millions of workers and community members;
  • That respect for human rights must also permeate any and all other initiatives a company undertakes to contribute to the SDGs, from philanthropy to shared value initiatives, environmental projects to innovative financing, and workforce engagement to anti-corruption efforts”

Lastly, the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights is the central guide to consult for more details on the corporate responsibility to respect human rights.

Essentially, to furnish trust among stakeholders, respect human rights, and advance value creation, it is vital that companies and organizations use their reporting processes to not just showcase how they support the SDGs, but also to nurture unique partnerships that advance the Global Goals movement, to create a better world for all.

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