With the Australian reporting season now underway, we are starting to see some leading Australian companies incorporating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their sustainability reports.
In recent weeks, we have been delighted to see the SDGs incorporated into the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Telstra and Optus sustainability reports. They join a number of global sustainability reports incorporating the SDGs, including from IKEA and Nestle. We expect to see further SDG content as additional Australian companies release reports.
There will be SDGs that relate to material issues for all companies, whether environmental, social and/or governance. Many companies already report and communicate on issues covered by the SDGs in a range of ways – in terms of meeting baseline responsibilities related to SDG issues (e.g. in relation to human rights), how they address potential and actual adverse impacts on SDG issues, and how they are using core competencies to contribute to solutions to advance achievement of the SDGs.
The SDGs offer a common framework for sustainable development applicable globally and locally. This common framework and language provided by the SDGs is assisting companies to shape and prioritise reporting narratives and the disclosures companies make. The SDGs can also help businesses communicate commitments and contributions that create long-term value for all stakeholders.
Stakeholder expectations around business engagement with the SDGs will also continue to drive the incorporation of specific SDG content into corporate reports, with interest from civil society and community partners, as well as investors, building.
Reporting against the SDGs is still relatively new, and there is no one way to approach it, and we expect how companies go about reporting will evolve over the coming years.
The SDG Compass offers guidance to companies on understanding the relevance of the SDGs to their businesses and reporting on the SDGs. GCNA members can also get in touch to access key takeaways from SDG mapping roundtables earlier this year, and our index of global sustainability reports that incorporate SDG content.