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Can corporate sustainability benchmarks turn the SDGs into a race to the top?



Nike’s deal with Colin Kaepernick has added almost $6 billion to company’s market value. But what has the company contributed to the UN Sustainable Development Goal No. 16, “Peace, justice and strong institutions”? A new initiative launched ahead of the U.N. General Assembly is developing a range of benchmarks by 2023 to assess the progress of 2,000 companies in achieving the 2030 global goals.

  • Turning SDG-washing… A growing number of companies (and investment firms) are touting their alignment with the SDGs. The World Benchmarking Alliance, a partnership between Aviva, Index Initiative and the United Nations Foundation, aims to increase transparency and accountability by providing free and public data on companies’ SDG performance.
  • …into a race to the top. The data is intended to spark a race among businesses to deliver against the SDGs. The benchmarks, says the Alliance’s Gerbrand Haverkamp, “will ultimately create demand for corporate responsibility.”
  • First up: Benchmarks are due in 2020 for food and agriculture, climate and energy, digital inclusion and gender equality and empowerment.

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