Forum One: Establishing the State of Play

Session 2
Oct 8 2:20pm–Oct 8, 4:10pm GMT

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Summary of Discussion

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

- Creating a system of transparency and accountability will be a powerful driver for continuous improvement

 - It is more than just communication, it helps to hold you accountable to your external stakeholders

 - It is critical to demonstrate progress and instill trust

- It is also about learing from successes & failures to help improve. It allows for sharing which is an important aspect of this

-However we need consistency in the way that we do this. Businesses are confused

- Transparency must also be backed up from strategy & implementation perspective too

 - Transparency ensures commitment to sustainability & sustainable practices

 - Transparency  is seen as the fundamental criteria applied to  SH's when appraising a company's SDG performance

- It is crutial for driving the 2030 agenda

 - Difficulty of transparency is that it requires resources to communicate on the details

- Transparency gives us a good sense of challenges in progress

 - Transparency should be seen as a means of learing from eachother

 - Challenging to maintain in  complex larger organisation

 - Seen as a critical tool for inclusion

- But challenging to find  a system that works for everyone to reporttheir impact

- Transparency if far bigger than "pretty" CSR reports

 

How are reporting frameworks like the GRI standards making a contribution to progress on the 2030 agenda?

 - Drive internal discussion and help to address expectations on material issues

 - However, the extensiveness of the reporting remains a barrier as does the time consuming nature to track certain data

 - Companies need to make informedn decisions on what reporting frameworks to use

  - GRI has its success in promoting transparency and advocating for SDGs and UNGPs. But it seems to focus more on transparency for its own sake than actual improvement in behaviour

 - GRI reporting standards is often challenged to be understood from the perspective of social enterprises rather the the cooperate or big company

 - Third pary varification of sustanability data is seen as important

- It is important that the reporting must be linkied to strategy n- it must be MORE that just reports

 - Seems that a diverse audience with various needs complicates the issue. Work is required on teh standardization of teh frameworks

 - Reporting must be aligned with the need of the Stakeholder that is being communicated to 

 - On the positive side, GRI is the only standard framework looking at sustainable issues without putting the interest of capital providers as the main objective

 - Need to make a better link to prosperity & profitability to gain the interest of CEO's

 

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

  1. a) what new business models, and
  2. b) new partnerships has reporting led to?

  - At this stage no major behaviour change is seen as a result of reporting on the SDG's. More needs to be done in this regard

 - The way companies talk to their partners and potential partners about impact has evolved, looking to build true partnerships around big socisl issues

 - More impactful partnerships required  between business & government on SDG's these are quite rare

 - Growing evidence that organisations are  intentionally investing in NGO's as a result of  SDG's & including investment reporting

 - Rise of new business also evident with new consultancies focused on helping business to prepare reports to comply with GRI, or other sustainable standards

 - New business models are seen to be popping up alongside the connection of the impact of a local business on the global agenda

 - External SH's also play a role in change by increaseing their pressure based on the information reported by companies, and related  accountability

 

It seems difficult to link SDGs and reporting to the development of new business models and collaboration ideas – why is that?

 - SDGs are more of an overall guidance, not a specific business model(s)

 - Reporting is adhoc & backward-looking. SDG's are forward-looking

 - Sustainability awareness brings new needs, therefore new markets & ultimatley adapted business models

 - Need to report om key KPI's more often

 - Support from organisational leadership and understanding on how the SDG CAN become the organisation's objectives, mission and align to the vision is often an obsticle to progress

 - SDG's have a very limited audience, have to consider how they can become more wide spread to be truely understood & taken into consideration

 - Companies also need to make a choice as to which SDG's they want to make an impact on to be more successful in moving the needle. 

 - Businesses should focus on specific targets within the SDGs and should select those that are the most relevant and realistically achievable for them.

 - However, while accurate reporting is important, we cannot sacrifice the simplicity and clarity of reporting because the success of the SDGs lies in their inclusiveness

 - Need more boardroom and shopfloor discussion on the why, how & when on the SDGs. 

 

How can companies best determine which SDGs are most fruitful for them and society?

 - Materiality assessment is a good starting point to deternine focus areas combined with business opportunities should guide the company

 - This should also be aligned with Values, Customer and Stakeholder requirements, and level of investment required to take action.

 - It needs to be authentically linked to business & see how it can improve prosperity and profitability 

 - Seems that a two prong appraoch is in order one that considers internal SH's and what would be meaningful to them and then the same with external SH's too

 - Seeking overall alignmnet with products & services & then redefine/reposition their objectives and strategies by adopting specific SDGs.

 

With respect to reporting, what is needed going forward to ensure we achieve the 2030 agenda?

 - More consistency required in appraoch across all roleplayers

 - Reporting needs to be simple

 - More collaboration required between parties

 - Framework education is also key

 - Standardizing templates, metrics & frameworks

 - An overall measure to help guage progress towards achieveing 2030

 - Closer collaboration with national & local authorities to find common goals

 - Moving to more mandatory frameworks with good supervision

 - Increased awareness of it all is key

 - Stronger ties between SDG outcomes, SDG reporting and financial reporting.

 - More ways to measure process, not just outcome-based reporting

 - Link KPI's & related performance bonuses to SDG reporitng results

 

Polls

1 of 5
What do you believe is the most important role for reporting on the SDGs?
Commit business to action
 
45%
Re-direct energies to set ambitious targets
 
3%
Inform decision-making / provide certainty
 
7%
Demonstrate corporate leadership
 
4%
Improve credibility / driving trust
 
3%
Demonstrate compliance
 
2%
Communicate corporate accountability
 
9%
Provide clarity to stakeholders (especially investors)
 
3%
Avoid corporate greenwashing
 
4%
Impact measurement
 
12%
Other
 
1%
111 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)
 
13%
Complexity / fragmentation in disclosing sustainability performance
 
44%
Promotes a ‘managerialist’ approach
 
2%
Slows system-level transformation (including innovation)
 
2%
Lack of narrative (corporate voice)
 
7%
No instructions / guidance on how to report performance
 
21%
Other
 
7%
76 votes
Next Poll »
Why is it important to align your KPIs & business strategy to the SDGs?
Maximize alignment / corporate activity
 
22%
Holistic approach in line with thresholds / allocations
 
7%
Increase transparency
 
5%
Express contributions
 
2%
Set focused KPIs to enable sustainable growth
 
42%
Communicate to investors
 
2%
Corporate impact / progress
 
14%
Other
 
1%
68 votes
Next Poll »
What value has arisen from establishing new partnerships & collaborating with others?
Scalable Impact
 
44%
Financial Returns
 
6%
Knowledge Transfer
 
42%
Investment Opportunities
 
6%
Other
 
2%
50 votes
Next Poll »
What is most important for reporting going forward to ensure we achieve the 2030 agenda?
Cross-sectoral Contributions / Collaborations
 
23%
Impact Valuation / Metrics
 
10%
Independent Auditing
 
0%
One Common Framework
 
23%
Increased Accountability / Regulations
 
2%
Real-time Disclosure
 
0%
Linking SDG Performance to Financial Performance
 
23%
Linking Reported Performance (transparency) to impact
 
15%
Other
 
2%
39 votes
Next Poll »

Meet our Guest Contributors

Bernhard Frey
Senior Manager, SDG Impact ...
United National Global Comp...
Edoardo Gai
Managing Director, Head ESG...
RobecoSAM
Caroline Holme
Director
GlobeScan
Marcia Massotti De Carvalho
Head of Sustainability Braz...
Enel
Tim Mohin
Chief Executive
GRI
Marcos Neto
Director Finance Sector Hub
United Nations Development ...
Gabriela Polanco-Sorto
Director, Sustainability an...
Manulife
Peter Paul Van de Wijs
Chief External Affairs Offi...
GRI

Session Moderator

Chris Coulter
CEO, GlobeScan
Canada

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