Transformation Towards Sustainable and Resilient Societies: The Role of Business

Jul 26, 2018 3:00 PM ET

There is no doubt that businesses are key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Since 2013, representatives from countries, businesses and NGOs have gathered once a year in New York to for the high-level political forum on sustainable development (HLPF). We collected some key takeaways from the forum about how the private sector is helping advance the achievement of the SDGs.

​During the 2018 meeting in July, 47 countries in total presented their voluntary national reviews (VNR). These country-driven analyses are an evaluation on progress and a reflection on experiences, successes, challenges and lessons learned, regarding the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. 

Private sector and SDG implementation

If we are to reach the SDGs, there is a need for action from all types of actors. So GRI welcomes the development that close to 40 percent of the countries mention the contribution of the private sector to national SDG strategies. Almost all countries included the private sector into the review process and consulted business representatives for the preparation of their national report. This highlights the fact that it has now become common practice for governments to include all stakeholders, which comprise businesses, into assessing SDG progress. 

The reports of five countries – Ecuador, Greece, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, contain a specific section on the private sector, and how it is helping further the SDGs. Scores others have included examples of sustainable business conduct and sustainability practice. Another welcome development is the increasing recognition of the role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in sustainable development, with 40 percent of countries also taking measures to empower SMEs in the realization of specific SDGs. 

One country, Colombia, has started analyzing business data, looking to understand the overall impact and contribution of the private sector in the country to the SDGs. It engaged in efforts to facilitate the collection of SDG-related business data that is reported according to the GRI Standards and included this information in their national report.

Final notes

While the focus of the reviews is quite diverse – as are the SDGs – 13 countries provide information on SDG target 12.6, related to sustainability and reporting. This target seeks to “encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and integrate sustainability into their reporting cycles.”

As the HLPF is wrapped up, there is a need to reflect on how to continue incorporating the efforts of businesses of any size and anywhere in the world, to accelerate the transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies. 

Click here to find out how your organization can contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals through reporting.