WHY BOARDS SHOULD CARE ABOUT SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

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Do corporate boards care about the Sustainable Development Goals? The answer is, of course, that it depends who you ask. Awareness and interest in embracing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the board level might be much more prevalent than mid-level managers think.

According to the newly released Global Opportunity Report 2016, 32 percent of CEOs surveyed were aware of the SDGs, and 23 percent say that they are fully aware and are planning a response.

However, CEOs are the frontrunners. Awareness levels and planning preparedness seems to decline down the management chain, with only 5 percent of mid-level management being fully aware and planning a response to the SDGs.

Much can be said about how surveys are conducted, but I’m not surprised by the findings of the Global Opportunity Report. It echoes my own discussions with several board members and CEOs. Still, the data does show a huge need to translate the SDGs into business action and innovation if the Agenda 2030 intends to be more than just commitments and a set of great goals. Perhaps it is because of this that U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in January called on the U.N. Global Compact (UNGC) to play a role with business in implementing the SDGs.

As the world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative, based on CEO commitments from over 13,000 businesses and organizations, many UNGC companies were involved in the process of shaping and determining the targets for the SDGs.

If any organization should have a convening power, it must be the world’s largest CEO-backed responsibility initiative — and one already active in encouraging board actions through the U.N. Global Compact Board Program.

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Source: Helle Bank Jorgensen

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