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New approach for aligning doing business to the Sustainable Development Goals

Posted 19 September, 2017

A new approach that supports businesses looking to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of their value creation process has been published today by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) and ICAS (the professional accountancy body), in partnership with the Green Economy Coalition.

The report, authored by academic Professor Carol Adams CA of the Durham University Business School, has been developed to help organisations enhance their contribution to the SDGs, whilst reducing corporate risk and increasing opportunities that arise from sustainable development issues.

This new publication is centred on the concept of the six capitals, which is a fundamental feature of Integrated Reporting. It addresses how, through efforts to transforms the capitals to create value for themselves and for others, organisations can make a material contribution to the SDGs, as well as clarify how they are mitigating or alleviating any detrimental effects.

The International Integrated Reporting Framework focuses businesses on how they create value. Integrated Reporting enables organisations to consider this through the perspective of their strategy and business model. It also encourages them to consider their stewardship of the relationships and resources they use and affect, and understand the trade-offs they make.

All of these factors are key for businesses thinking about the SDGs and meeting evolving societal expectations and resource shortages. This report sets out how the <IR> Framework can inform and support a business’s commitment to the SDGs.

Richard Howitt, CEO, IIRC said, “I believe that businesses that commit to the SDGs will be helping to ensure the stability and sustainable development of their own business. The IIRC’s vision includes sustainable development at its heart and so we believe it is timely to demonstrate how <IR> can be harnessed by those organisations whose strategy is to align to the SDGs. We hope that this report will play a role in helping organisations to apply integrated thinking, considering value creation from the point of view of strategy and the business model.”

Anne Adrain, Head of Sustainability & Assurance, ICAS said, “The UN Sustainable Development Goals represent the means by which business, governments and civil society can achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda for the benefit of all. ICAS recognises the significance of the role that accountants will play in helping organisations to measure and report on their achievements and progress towards this objective.”

Russell Picot, Chair, HSBC UK Pension Scheme Trustee Board and chair of the advisory group for this report, said, “In using this report businesses have a tool to communicate – in a language investors will understand – how their commitment to the SDGs is creating value for society and the business alike. I urge businesses that are serious about sustainable development to use this step by step process thereby embedding the SDGs into the heart of their strategy and business model.”

Oliver Greenfield, Convener, Green Economy Coalition said, “The future we want and the SDGs that define it, needs business. We also think the SDGs need capitals. So, helping business to think through the SDGs and the capitals might just be transformative.”