Measuring Impact: Private Sector Sustainability Data for Achieving the SDGs

Oct 8, 2018 10:05 AM ET

The 17 Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) reflect the ideals of our time and aim to ensure that everyone can fulfill their potential in dignity and equality, while protecting the planet from degradation, and in harmonious, peaceful and just societies.  The commitment of governments has been translated into clear and measurable targets, that get evaluated yearly during the Voluntary National Reviews (VNR). This sharing of information aims to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda; and the uptake in VNR reports is quite telling as to the growing importance of this opportunity: from 11 reports in 2016 to 27 in 2018. 

Sustainability reporting to measure progress

The multi-stakeholder nature of sustainability reporting can help unlock the data that, while necessary to measure progress, is often not considered in official reports and not consolidated in a way that is easy to compare. So more and more, governments are incorporating corporate social sustainability and sustainability reporting in their own reviews, in line with SDG target 12.6, to map progress and give a way forward to achieving the SDGs with more data. 

Pioneering sustainability reporting as a data source: Colombia

In its second VNR, the Colombian government used corporate sustainability data released by Colombian companies to assess business contributions and impacts on key topics. This was the first time a government aggregated sustainability reporting data at the national level to inform its VNR. GRI provided technical support to Colombia’s planning department, the Departamento Nacional de Planeación, which conducted the pilot project together with the Business Call to Action program of the UN Development Program (UNDP). 

Learn more

For GRI this is one great example of how government, business and other stakeholders working together can use sustainability reporting to measure and improve upon as they work towards fulfilling their 2030 Agenda commitments. Read more about the results of this pioneering exercise in The Private Sector and its Contribution to the SDGs: A Journey to Data Gathering Trough Corporate Sustainability Reporting in Colombia which informed the 2018 Reporte Nacional Voluntario presented by the Government of Colombia at the 2018 High-Level Political Forum in New York.