News & Views

Reimagining sustainable value: the SDGs gather pace

The Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ACCSR) has released its ninth Annual Review of the State of CSR in Australia and New Zealand, this year titled Re-imagining sustainable value: the Sustainable Development Goals gather pace. The research surveyed over 1,200 respondents from a range of industries including on how businesses are addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), CSR priorities for the year ahead, and trends in sustainability reporting.

Australian businesses are embracing the SDGs

An encouraging finding from the research was that that businesses are embracing the SDGs. Further, more than half of respondents reported that the SDGs have been mapped against business strategy as much as against CSR strategies or reporting. Organisations are also assessing their impacts through the lens of the SDGs, setting targets, developing partnerships, and reporting performance.

The top SDGs being addressed by businesses are Gender Equality, Good Health and Well-Being, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Climate Action and Decent Work and Economic Growth. Those identified as most challenging were Climate Action, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Responsible Consumption and Production and Sustainable Cities and Communities.

Barriers to progress on the SDGs include budgetary constraints, limited awareness of the link between sustainability and business strategy among decision-makers, poor identification of appropriate partnerships, regulatory restraints and conflicting stakeholder interests. Limited government action represents another perceived barrier to progress.

CSR priorities and capabilities

The research highlighted the following top three CSR priorities for Australian organisations:

  • Building stronger relationships with stakeholders
  • Managing the implications of technology
  • Managing regulatory impacts

ACCSR’s Annual Review also measures CSR management capabilities – that is, how embedded CSR processes and values are across an organisation – reflecting the extent to which an organisation considers stakeholder needs and values in decision making, holds open and honest dialogue, and is accountable for its social impacts.

This year, six GCNA members made it into ACCSR’s ‘CSR Top 10’: Deloitte, PwC, Tata Consultancy Services, Transurban, WaterAid and Yarra Valley Water.

The research also highlighted that the UN Global Compact and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights remain very useful to reporting organisations.

Download the report here.