Forum One: Establishing the State of Play

Session 1
Oct 8 '19 8:25am–Oct 8 '19, 10:15am GMT


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Summary of Discussion

What is the role and impact of transparency in driving the 2030 agenda?

  • Transparency is key - collaborations are based on trust/transparency
  • Promotes accountability as it encourages businesses to measure/monitor SDG impact
  • Provides data for stakeholders to assess their performance
  • Promotes objective of making a real change through ideation, implementation and disclosure of sustainable strategy
  • Corporate disclosure recognised in the SDGs as a means to engage business in sustainable development 
  • Transparency is only secondary to material action, and must be genuine
  • Demonstrates true commitment to achieving the goals, attracts investments and boosts collaboration 
  • Transparency helps to build trust

How are reporting frameworks like the GRI standards making a contribution to progress on the 2030 agenda? And what have been some of the challenges and successes with using the standards?


  • Kick starts a companies' understanding of their contribution to the SDGs
  • Helps companies to identify space for improvement, opportunities for innovation and new business 
  • Reporting framework needed as global guidance to facing 2030
  • Acts as a "common language/approach" to reporting on the SDGs
  • Increases data comparability 
  • Tools like the GRI standards tie SDG reporting to existing management tools and helps companies tie SDG performance to business performance
  • Success: Enel Sustainability dashboard - concise sustainability review that demonstrates the value created by the company and lays out the path for the next 3 years
  • Success: CDL evolved sustainability reporting with GRI guidelines. Framework has helped them in both climate mitigation and adaptation, space for improvement and opportunities for innovation
  • Challenges: how to prioritise, identifying and linking to materiality, integrating SDGs into overall sustainability/business strategy, making links between actions that contribute to SDGs and financial outcomes, explaining severity, likelihood, intensity and relationship with each SDG

How has reporting on the SDGs changed the behaviour of businesses - specifically:

a) what new business models, and

b) new partnerships has reporting led to?


  • PGGM - partnership on the SDG impact measurement working group on the Sustainable Platform hosted by the Dutch Central Bank. Financials/companies trying to balance credibility and practicality in capturing SDG impact
  • Reporting has opened communications between companies and stakeholders - e.g. ESG investment community, who treat sustainability reports as the go-to information when making decisions on investments
  • GRI Partnership in Columbia where businesses and companies come together to use GRI reported data to understand business' contribution to the national targets and engage in discussions on next actions 

It seems difficult to link SDGs and reporting to the development of new business models and collaboration ideas - why is that? What is / isn't working?


  • Companies need to look at sustainability and the SDGs as a strategic challenge - how can they apply their core competencies to contribute to the SDGs - ensuring license to operate, making some money and creating shared value
  • Difficult to make a radical change to the business model, and managing transformation can be hard
  • Fear of losing clients/investors in the shift 
  • Internally shared company culture is critical to driving change 
  • Business transformation requires strategic leadership and commitment
  • Need to mainstream the SDGs into strategy and business models to create more impact and gain board level support
  • Greater pressure needed on reporting standards in order to stimulate dialogue with stakeholders
  • Not considering the SDGs separately is both an obstacle and opportunity - necessary to consider each individually, but as part of the collective goal
  • External stakeholders (e.g. value chain, investors and financiers) are key drivers of change. Increasing pressure from responsible investors, lendors and corporate will raise the bar of ESG strategy and performance

With respect to reporting, what is needed to ensure we have more impact and achieve the 2030 agenda?

What do those of you who are researchers and users want? What do those of you who are reporters want?


  • Materiality is key 
  • Frameworks to provide guidelines to follow and provide feedback
  • Quantification - reporting needs to measure impact, and not just link strategy, risks and opportunities to the SDGs
  • Targets and (measurable) progress on those targets
  • Collaborations between companies and governments to agree priorities, roles and responsibilities in meeting the SDGs
  • Increased accountability - governments and regulators should require reporting on SDGs
  • Business needs to demonstrate that driving action on SDGs is good for business
  • Investors need to provide a lower cost of capital for more sustainable companies
  • Increase the connection between SDG performance and financial performance to make it easier for companies to move towards more sustainable business
  • Consumers need to use their purchases to send a market signal
  • Being strategic with KPIs
  • Reporting on impact in a way that is comparable to other companies
  • Linking senior management compensation with the companies SDG goals, progress and achievement
  • Greater transparency is still needed


1 of 6
What do you believe is the most important role for reporting on the SDGs?
Commit business to action
Re-direct energies to set ambitious targets
Inform decision-making / provide certainty
Demonstrate corporate leadership
Improve credibility / driving trust
Demonstrate compliance
Communicate corporate accountability
Provide clarity to stakeholders (especially investors)
Avoid corporate greenwashing
Impact measurement
100 votes
Next Poll »
What do you find challenging when reporting on your progress on the SDGs with the GRI Standards?
Low value of quality (about metrics)
Complexity / fragmentation in disclosing sustainability performance
Promotes a ‘managerialist’ approach
Slows system-level transformation (including innovation)
Lack of narrative (corporate voice)
No instructions / guidance on how to report performance
68 votes
Next Poll »
Why is it important to align your KPIs & business strategy to the SDGs?
Maximize alignment / corporate activity
Holistic approach in line with thresholds / allocations
Increase transparency
Express contributions
Set focused KPIs to enable sustainable growth
Communicate to investors
Corporate impact / progress
68 votes
Next Poll »
What value has arisen from establishing new partnerships & collaborating with others?
Scalable Impact
Financial Returns
Knowledge Transfer
Investment Opportunities
53 votes
Next Poll »
What are some of the big challenges in linking reporting on business models & partnerships with existing reporting frameworks?
Existing disclosure requirements are lax
Information related to ‘new business models & partnerships’ is not material
Multiple partners makes it hard to disclose information
All of the Above
42 votes
Next Poll »
What is most important going forward, to ensure we achieve the 2030 agenda?
Global industry dashboard / common standard
Radical transparency (enriching reporting through story telling)
Aligned regulation to reporting standards
Generating / reporting real time information
27 votes
Next Poll »

Meet our Guest Contributors

Esther An
Chief Sustainability Officer
City Developments Ltd (CDL)
Edoardo Gai
Managing Director, Head ESG...
Giulia Genuardi
Head Sustainability Plannin...
Piet Klop
Senior Advisor Responsible ...
Tim Mohin
Chief Executive
Paul Simpson
Chief Executive Officer
Carbon Disclosure Project (...
Filippo Veglio
Managing Director & Sen...
World Business Council for ...
Peter Paul Van de Wijs
Chief External Affairs Offi...

Session Moderator

Caroline Holme
Director, GlobeScan
United Kingdom


Tim Mohin
I think this question gets to the heart of the matter. Com...
Piet Klop
I do not necessarily believe that reporting drives change; ...
Paul Simpson
On the risk of greenwashing and ensuring trust. That is why...
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