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Ready to accelerate corporate reporting on the Global Goals
05 April 2017
​On 27 March, leading members of the multi-stakeholder network of GRI and the UN Global Compact gathered in The Hague to take the first steps in establishing best practice in corporate reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals. Kicking off with inspiring speakers and shared determination to act, the Action Platform is now set to shape the future of corporate reporting. We went behind the scenes at the launch event to find out more about the members and their motivations to participate in the project.
The UN Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, and GRI, the world’s leading organization for sustainability reporting, are partnering to create a clear and simple framework for the private sector to assess and report on their contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). On 27 March, the Multi-stakeholder Advisory Committee (MAC) of the Action Platform Reporting on the SDGs convened for the first time in person in The Hague, bringing to the table expertise from all dimensions of the society.

The MAC agreed on many important decisions about the project focus and content of the two outcomes – the Preliminary Analysis of business disclosures to report on the SDGs, and the Handbook containing guidance on best practice for business on SDGs reporting. The Corporate Action Group (CAG), a business-only constituent, continued the discussion throughout the afternoon, with a special emphasis on stakeholder expectations. 

We also got to meet some of the Action Platform members behind the scenes. We asked them why they think this project is vital, and what is the role of businesses in achieving the SDGs. We also wanted to know how they envision the world in 2030 if the SDGs are achieved. Here’s what they told us.

What makes the effort to facilitate private sector reporting on the SDGs significant?
“This is a really exciting initiative, because for the first time, we are recognizing how much power the private sector has in shaping development in a country. In the past, we have looked to the donors and governments to play that role, but now, we are putting the private sector at the heart of what development looks like," says Nisha Agrawal, CEO of Oxfam India.

Linda Kromjong, Secretary General of International Organization of Employers, highlights the importance of reporting, but also its relevance. “We want to have reporting that is meaningful for business, that’s workable for business, but also helps them drive performance going forward. That’s why we need to have credible criteria, because what doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get done.”

Why is it important that the private sector takes part in the achievement of the SDGs?
“Private sector is the one employing the people, and creating the products and services. It can create the good as well as do the damage, so it is absolutely critical that the private sector is front and center of this whole reporting agenda,” states Malcolm Preston, Global Leader, Sustainability & Climate Change at PwC.

Laura Palmeiro, Sustainability Integration Director at Danone, echoes Preston’s view. ”The private sector plays an enormous role in the social and economic landscape. It would be impossible and unrealistic to reach the SDGs without them.”

Providing an investor perspective, Mandy Kirby, Director of Reporting, Assessment and Accountability at PRI, also points out the private sector’s role in filling the funding gap. “There is a massive shortfall in the funding that is required to achieve the SDGs: between five and seven trillion dollars a year is needed, and governments are only able to provide one trillion of those.”
 
What will the world look like in 2030 if the SDGs are achieved?
Paula Palaez, Manager of UN Business Call to Action (BCtA), envisions a more equal world. “By 2030 we would have a world with no inequalities, and very little or no poverty. We would have finance that is compatible with key environmental, social and governance issues, and a population that has access and affordability to key products and services, which they currently do not.”

Oxfam’s Agrawal highlights the role of trust, collaboration and commitment: “We hope it will be a world where there will be much more trust between the governments, private sector and the civil society. At the moment, we point fingers at each other and it’s just a blame game, we never sit down in the same room. It must be a shared vision that we co-create, and it must be a shared vision that we are all committed to achieving together,” she asserts.

Finally, Philipp Schönrock, Director of CEPEI, a non-profit think tank, reminds us that achieving the goals would only be one milestone of a long journey: ”In 2030, after achieving the goals, we will live in a world that looks multi-dimensional, holistic and more inclusive, and it gives us the base to actually be sustainable and learn from what we did in the past 15 years. I see a world that moves forward more sustainably, but still has a very long way to go.”

You can read more about the partnership project and the Action Platform at our website, where you can also learn more about joining the Corporate Action Group. Previous articles are also available on GRI’s news and press center. ​