Gold Standard and the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) Switzerland have published a report, Business and the Sustainable Development Goals: Best practices to seize opportunity and maximise credibility to help the private sector define and deliver against ambitious strategies to help the world meet the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
This publication comes in support of the launch of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Switzerland, with a goal of connecting a global need with business opportunity. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals Report from 2017 cites that, “the rate of progress in many areas is far slower than needed to meet the targets by 2030,” flagging the urgency to accelerate action. The Business and Sustainable Development Commission flagship report highlights that “achieving the SDGs could create 380 million jobs and help unlock at least $12 trillion in opportunities for business by 2030.”
While business is taking notice of the SDGs, engagement strategies are still in their infancy and can be inconsistent from one company to another. In their latest review of members’ sustainability reporting, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) found that 79% of the companies analysed acknowledge the SDGs in some way. However, they note that only 6% of those companies have aligned their strategy and targets to specific target-level SDG criteria and measured their contributions to key SDGs.
The Gold Standard – WWF report highlights the advantages for business in setting ambitious SDG strategies, details the common challenges and pitfalls that companies face today, and offers a clear, actionable set of good practices for business leaders to inform their strategies moving forward.
“We’ve seen business starting to align their strategies to the SDGs, which is essential, as we can only achieve the SDGs by working together,” states Thomas Vellacott, CEO of WWF Switzerland and co-author of the report. “Setting corporate targets with reference to the SDGs, having them externally verified and reporting on them transparently will increasingly become standard practice.”
Marion Verles, CEO of Gold Standard and report co-author adds, “By following simple standards for best practice target setting and then monitoring and reporting on impact delivered, business can drive the paradigm shift to a sustainable world and reap the rewards for their actions.“
The report will be updated over time as new practices emerge to help business avoid risks of “SDG washing,” the equivalent of “green-washing” for this new era. It will also be supplemented with case studies to bring implementations of the guidelines to life.