Delivering the SDGs

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Is your business committed to delivering one or more of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals?

Question collaborators: WWF, UKSSD


No EXCELLENT answers have been published for this question.

OKAY Answers

No OKAY answers have been published for this question.

POOR Answers

No POOR answers have been published for this question.

In September 2015 the United Nations General Assembly formally adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a new global framework of 17 goals and 169 targets to wipe out poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change by 2030.

The SDGs will carry on the momentum generated by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but with one fundamental difference: the principle of universality that underpins the framework. This means all countries are expected to implement the goals domestically, as well as work together to achieve the ambition of the SDGs globally.

The SDGs require a holistic approach involving actors from all sectors. Governments need to look to society, and business in particular, for help to achieve them. The private sector has an important role to play in implementing the SDGs, as complex challenges require integrated responses that involve knowledge and resources from all stakeholders.

Many business leaders are confident that, far from being a burden, the SDGs have the potential to drive successful new strategies, innovations and investments.

The Business and Sustainable Development Commission, launched in Davos in January 2016, aims to map the economic prize that could be available to business if the UN SDGs are achieved. In its flagship report, Better Business, Better World, the Commission describes how business can contribute to delivering these goals.

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The '2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development' establishes the Sustainable Development Goals. This document recognises that the challenge of implementing this agenda requires new and collaborative ways of working, characterised by multi-stakeholder networks that can harness the resources and the expertise of the private sector, academia, and the public as well as of Government and Civil Society.

Global Goals

The 'Global Goals' are the same as and interchangeable with the "Sustainable Development Goals", or the "SDGs" for short.


An 'indicator' is something that indicates the state or level of something. In relation to the SDGs, indicators are linked to the targets which are assigned to each of the goals. For example, Target 3.3 (set under Goal 3) to reduce various diseases by 2030 has five relevant indicators to assess progress toward the target, as follows:
3.3.1 Number of new HIV infections per 1,000 uninfected population, by sex, age and key populations
3.3.2 Tuberculosis incidence per 1,000 population
3.3.3 Malaria incidence per 1,000 population
3.3.4 Hepatitis B incidence per 100,000 population
3.3.5 Number of people requiring interventions against neglected tropical diseases.
The Final list of proposed Sustainable Development Goal indicators, which includes the 230 agreed indicators, can be downloaded here.

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

The 'Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)' were the eight international development goals for the year 2015 that had been established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. All 189 United Nations member states at that time, and at least 22 international organizations, committed to help achieve the following Millennium Development Goals by 2015:

  1. To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. To achieve universal primary education
  3. To promote gender equality and empower women
  4. To reduce child mortality
  5. To improve maternal health
  6. To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  7. To ensure environmental sustainability
  8. To develop a global partnership for development.
    Each goal had specific targets, and dates for achieving those targets. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) replaced the MDGs in 2016.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The 'Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)' is a set of seventeen aspirational "Global Goals" with 169 targets between them, as follows:-

  1. No Poverty
  2. Zero Hunger
  3. Good Health & Well-being
  4. Quality Education
  5. Gender Equality
  6. Clean Water & Sanitation
  7. Affordable and Clean Energy
  8. Decent work and Economic Growth
  9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  10. Reduced inequalities
  11. Sustainable cities and communities
  12. Responsible consumption and production
  13. Climate Action
  14. Life Below Water
  15. Life on Land
  16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
  17. Partnerships for the goals.

'Targets' are objectives or results towards which efforts are directed. In relation to the SDGs, they the nine or ten objectives which focus and contextualise each goal. For example, Goal 3 is "Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages". One of the nine targets set to this goal is Target 3.3: "By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases."

Answering YES

All Businesses MUST

Explain what methods are used to determine which of the 17 goals bear the most relevance to their business, its mission and purpose

Explain which of the goals they have chosen to deliver on, and how, with reference to the targets set which each of the goals

Describe which goals they are unable to currently support despite them having a material impact to the business, and which goals they impact negatively against, and explain why

Outline how performance in pursuit of their chosen goals is monitored, measured and reported on

All Businesses MAY

Describe any official statement or policy regarding the goals or why no such statement or policy yet exists

Explain who in the organisation is responsible for overseeing commitment to and delivering against the SDGs

Explain whether their actions are in line with the framework of targets and indicators which support each goal

Describe any other actions they may be taking to make a positive impact in any of the areas covered by the 2030 Agenda

List any partners they are working with to deliver the SDGs

Explain if company leadership is incorporating SDGs into employee learning and development

Explain what tools they use to assess their impact of delivering on the SDGs

Mention any future intentions regarding this issue

Answering NO

All Businesses MUST

Explain whether they have attempted to understand the positive and negative impacts their business has on the SDGs

Explain why they have not taken steps to deliver on the sustainable development goals

All Businesses MAY

List any practices that are relevant, but not sufficient to answer YES

DON'T KNOW is not a permissible answer to this question

NOT APPLICABLE is not a permissible answer to this question

Version 1

To receive a score of 'Excellent'

Clearly demonstrates deep commitment to delivery of sustainable development, SDGs and measures and reports on progress

Examples of policies and practices which may support the EXCELLENT statement:

  1. Works towards the sustainable development goals is mission critical for the business
  2. Walks the talk for sustainable development through the business model, strategy, supply chains etc.
  3. Actively encourages and enables other businesses and organisations to take part in delivering the SDGs
  4. Communicates how the business positively contributes to SDGs and how it will address SDGs where room for improvement/mitigation
  5. Lobbies/works with government/NGOs on meeting targets for the sustainable development agenda
  6. Contributes both physical and financial resources towards the agenda
  7. Actively encourages employees to engage in SDG related work
  8. Aligns business purpose and mission with delivering the SDGs
  9. Works closely with UKSSD or any of its partner organisations or partners in other countries, or similar such organisations, to deliver SDGs
To receive a score of 'Good'

Does various good things in effort to help deliver the SDGs

Examples of policies and practices which may support the GOOD statement:

  1. Works towards a number of relevant SDGs
  2. Works in business or organisation partnerships to deliver on some of the SDGs
  3. Has set out ambitious plans to ramp up support for SDGs which it is happy to be held to account on
  4. Communicates how the business positively contributes to SDGs and where there is room to improvement/mitigation
To receive a score of 'Okay'

Works to support SDGs on an ad hoc basis, as circumstances or opportunities allow OR delivering the SDGs is not relevant to the business

Examples of policies and practices which may support the OKAY statement:

  1. Works towards some of the SDGs with intentions to deliver on more in the future
  2. Provides satisfactory explanation that delivery of the SDGs is not relevant or applicable to the business
  3. Understand the negative impact it has on other SDGs but has a plan to improve this
  4. Has begun the process of aligning strategy with the SDGs but not yet set public goals and targets
To receive a score of 'Poor'

No support for the SDGs

Examples of policies and practices which may support the POOR statement:

  1. Makes no effort to support any of the SDGs
  2. Business activities at odds with the delivery of one or more SDGs
  3. Critical of the efforts of others to support the SDGs
  4. Engages in greenwashing related to the SDGs
  5. Uses the SDG framework as a means to cover up harm or give the impression the business is performing better than it is