The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed in 2015, are the milestones marking the path towards the future we want. These goals cannot be achieved without the firm commitment of the private sector to work with government and civil society to deliver the solutions and investments needed to achieve the SDGs.
Many of the world’s leading companies are already aligning their business models with the SDGs. However, information and analysis of corporate sustainability performance remains hard to access or compare, making it challenging to credit leaders or hold laggards to account.
A powerful and potentially transformative way to address this challenge is the production of international league tables measuring and comparing corporate performance against the SDGs. The global need for such league tables is widely acknowledged, from the Business and Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC) to the EU High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance.
These league tables require sophisticated benchmarks that can provide financial institutions, companies, governments, and civil society with information they can use to allocate capital, increase transparency, track and compare corporate sustainability performance, and ultimately catalyse action and accelerate SDG delivery.
Aviva, the UN Foundation, BSDC, and the Index Initiative have proposed establishing a World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA). This would become an institution that will develop, fund, house, and safeguard publicly available, free to access, corporate sustainability benchmarks aligned with the SDGs. Enhanced transparency and understanding can fundamentally change the quality of multi‑stakeholder engagement and align corporate performance with sustainability objectives.
During 2017 the WBA secured funding for a global consultation from governments of the UK, Denmark and The Netherlands and began to consult globally and regionally through a set of roundtables. In 2017 consultations were held in New York, London and Jakarta. In 2018 roundtables are taking place in various locations across Asia, the US, Latin America and Europe and an online consultation is also available. The results of the consultations were fed into the publication of a synthesis reports and recommendations in September 2018.
The WBA invites organisations who support the concept of publicly available benchmarks to become an ally of the initiative — www.worldbenchmarkingalliance.org.