Far to Go: Nine Takeaways from a Survey of Businesses’ Progress on the Journey to Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals


This paper investigates how companies are reacting to the launch of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by updating their existing sustainability initiatives or launching new programs. Interviews were performed with more than 60 multinational corporations, SMEs, startups, investors and financial institutions, NGOs, industry associations and sustainability service providers.

The field of reporting on SDG impacts is in flux, but most companies that have sustainability programs are aware of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Agenda and are trying to figure out how they can use their current approaches to sustainability to map their efforts to the SDGs. Companies just starting the sustainability journey have a wealth of options to choose from for measurement, disclosure and crafting strategy. But there is far to go:

* Sustainability is not yet fundamental to business models – no one has mastered it
* Employees desire to understand sustainability and how it will impact their work
* There is a race for talent, who are becoming pickier about a company’s sustainability position
* The supply chain is a major focus; there is great room for progress here
* Collaboration and partnership are essential; efforts required are too complicated to do alone
* Investors are acting as enlightened managers of capital to light the way and drive adoption
* Greenwashing is not possible, cheap talk is easy to uncover
* Companies are trying to move beyond a “Vision” for Sustainability to fully systemizing their initiatives
* Companies are struggling to measure and assess performance on the SDGs

Author Information
Donald Eubank, Read the Air Coalition, Japan
Trista Bridges, Read the Air Coalition, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACSEE2019
Stream: Economic Sustainability: Sustainable Businesses and CSR

This paper is part of the ACSEE2019 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon