The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are increasingly seen by business as a premier standard to guide their sustainability initiatives. There is currently a limited amount of guidance on how businesses can report their performance against the SDGs, and no standardised framework. The first UN produced SDG guidance document for business reporting was published in July 2018. By 2017, forty percent of the world's largest companies discussed the SDG's in their sustainability reports (KPMG 2017). A PWC study of 470 business across 17 countries found that 62 percent are addressing the SDGs in their reporting.
Based on our research it seems clear that the majority of companies already know that the SDGs will shape the future of business. Indeed, we believe that when companies incorporate the goals into growth strategies, core operations, value chains and policy positions, they will benefit from new opportunities and markets, realise big efficiency gains and also enhance their reputations in the eyes of governments and society.
The proposal is to create a robust and repeatable process that can be applied to different agricultural sectors to produce SDG aligned reports.
The process diagram below illustrates the main components of a SDG reporting framework:
The latest developments arising for the 'fourth wave' of sustainability will be incorporated into a system to create rapid and efficent tools and processes for reporting on the SDGs. Some of these technologies are illustrated in the following figure from an Environmental Defence Fund study of sustainability technologies:
Examples of the application of such technologies will include the use of big data and analytics in materiality assessments. The following visualisation demonstrates the use of internet search data on SDG topics to measure stakeholder interest in each of the SDGs.
Or the use of Interactive network maps to aid the selction and alignment of appropriate indicators.
The collection and analysis of data can be facilitated through flexible software solutions, capable of adapting to the needs of multiple different industry and bisness types. The DELV tool is an example of a system that could be refined for this purpose.
The results of the process can then be bought together using interactive reporting and communication systems which can be tailored to the diverse needs of multiple stakeholder groups. This would include the use of websites, visualisation software, social media, and other digital technologies.