Practical help for businesses to up the pace of SDGs progress

3 min readFeb 20, 2020


By Peter Paul van de Wijs, GRI Chief of External Affairs

This year marks just ten years to go to the deadline for completing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These universally supported targets were always ambitious in their scope — yet what is clearer now than ever before is that quicker progress is crucial in the decade to come. If the world stays on the same pace as the past five years, the goals will not be met with worrying and serious consequences.

When launched in 2015, the SDGs ushered in a new era of global development objectives to address the world’s most pressing problems. At GRI, we have been closely involved in the SDGs from the very early stages — because we know that increasing the participation of business is a principle driver in achieving the progress needed to reach these goals.

Over the past five years, GRI has collaborated extensively with the UN Global Compact (UNGC) and others to recognize and assess the crucial role of transparency and corporate reporting as a driver for measuring and encouraging progress towards the SDGs.

This year will see a number of new projects to further support this work. That includes the new addition of Examples of Corporate SDG Reporting Practices to the resources from GRI, which is focused around 14 sets of examples on how businesses have measured and disclosed SDGs impacts. These examples are now freely available to assist companies and other stakeholders, including aligning the SDGs with business strategy.

The highlighted examples recognize that, in different markets and global locations, there are lessons to be learned and shared. Companies included represent a broad array of countries: Brazil, Denmark, France, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Philippines. Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, UK and USA. Likewise, they are drawn from many different sectors, including chemicals, construction, consumer goods, cosmetics, food & drink, energy, real estate, and telecommunications.

The examples cover key themes that are globally relevant for businesses, such as:

· How to disclose SDGs impacts in the value chain;

· Engaging stakeholders in prioritizing SDGs;

· Understanding interconnections between the SDGS, corporate objectives and KPIs.

These practical examples complement the existing guidance developed by the GRI-UNGC Business Reporting on the SDGs Action Platform. This resource covers three areas:

1. Analysis of the SDGs goals and targets

2. A guide for integrating the SDGs into corporate reporting

3. How to address investor needs in SDGs business reporting

Meanwhile, we are at the midway point in an engagement project in partnership with Enel, which has involved gathering perspectives from business and policy representatives to set a vision for how reporting and partnerships can advance corporate input for the SDGs. A series of interactive, online forums in the second half of 2019 provided input on the changes needed. The next stage will see this work inform regional dialogue events later this year, to translate the lessons learned into action.

Looking ahead, we’re excited to be launching the SDGs Corporate Tracker project in Colombia, developed with the Technical Secretariat of the ODS Commission in Colombia, the UN Development Programme and Business Call to Action. This bold and collaborative approach see equal involvement from the private sector, civil society, academia and governments around the principle that collective action is the only way to achieve sustainability and advance the SDGs.

The corporate tracker platform helps measure business contributions to the SDGs and was built based on the experience of the first pilot project in Colombia in 2018. This project mined and aggregated private sector data on selected SDGs, which informed the Voluntary National Review presented by Colombia to the UN to show their progress. We are exploring opportunities for similar projects in the African and South Asia regions.

Stay tuned for more on this work and other initiatives in the coming months, as part of GRI’s continued wide-ranging action and commitments as a global catalyst for increasing corporate input and ambition to support the SDGs.




GRI is the independent international organization that helps businesses and other organizations communicate and understand their sustainability impacts.