Four-in-five companies assessed by Global Responsible Investing (GRI) include a commitment in their sustainability reports to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), yet fewer than half set measurable targets for how their actions contribute towards fulfilling the goals, according to a recent study.
The study, published by GRI, a non-profit organization offering sustainability reporting guidance, and Support the Goals, entitled State of Progress: Business Contributions to the SDGs, analyzes a sample of over 200 companies around the world that produced a GRI report in 2020.
Key findings include:
- 83% of companies state that they support the SDGs, recognizing the value of aligning their reports with them
- 69% of companies articulate which goals are most relevant to their business, with 61% specifying how their actions support them
- 40% of companies set measurable commitments for how they will help achieve the SDGs, while 20% include evidence to assess their positive impacts.
The research highlights trends in SDG reporting, with recommendations on how companies can improve their communications and performance that include:
- providing targets on how they support the SDGs, particularly for those that connect most closely to the companies’ activities, products or business relationships
- deepening reporting on their positive contributions to the SDGs, while also responding to stakeholder demands for transparency on negative impacts
- making data on their SDG performance easily accessible by using internationally recognized frameworks, such as the GRI standards
- collaborating on SDG reporting, sharing practices both up and down the value chain, while doing more to engage their suppliers on this topic.
“This study confirms the crucial role of sustainability reporting in enabling companies to explore how their actions impact on the 2030 Agenda, while providing the transparency needed for governments and the international community to measure progress on the SDGs,” says Peter Paul van de Wijs, GRI’s chief external affairs officer. “It is encouraging, therefore, that we are seeing most GRI reporting companies commit to alignment with the SDGs.
“The urgent next step is to ramp up the role of the private sector in contributing to solutions for fulfilling the goals, which requires more in-depth and quantifiable disclosure, and links SDG performance with business strategy. Doing so, not only will increase progress on the goals, but it can also unlock opportunities for innovation and collaboration.”