SDG Compass

The guide for business action on the SDGs

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The SDG Compass is a five step framework created by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), United Nations Global Compact and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). By developing and delivering solutions for the achievement of the SDGs, companies can discover new growth opportunities and lower their risk profiles. Companies can use the SDGs as an overarching framework to shape, steer, communicate and report their strategies, goals and activities, allowing them to capitalize on a range of benefits.

These include:

1. Identifying future business opportunities

The SDGs aim to redirect global public and private investment flows towards the challenges they represent. This will further grow markets and ease access to capital for companies that can offer relevant technologies and solutions through sustainable and inclusive business models.

  • Innovative technologies to increase energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy storage, ‘green buildings’ and sustainable transportation;
  • The substitution of traditionally manufactured and processed products by ICT and other technology solutions that reduce emissions and waste;
  • Meeting the needs of the large and mostly untapped market for products and services – including in healthcare, education, energy, finance and ICT – that can improve the lives of the four billion people who currently live in poverty.

2. Enhancing the value of corporate sustainability

By integrating sustainability considerations across the value chain, companies can protect and create value for themselves by, for example, increasing sales, developing new market segments, strengthening the brand, improving operational efficiency, stimulating product innovation and reducing employee turnover

3. Strengthening stakeholder relations and keeping pace with policy developments

The SDGs reflect stakeholder expectations as well as future policy direction at the international, national and regional levels. Companies that align their priorities with the SDGs can better engage with customers, employees and other stakeholders, with those that don’t being exposed to growing legal and reputational risks. Companies that help advance the SDGs will be likely to:

  • Improve trust among stakeholders;
  • Strengthen their license to operate;
  • Reduce legal, reputational and other business risks;
  • Build resilience to costs or requirements imposed by future legislation.

4. Stabilizing societies and markets

Business cannot succeed in societies that fail. Investing in the achievement of the SDGs supports pillars of business success. Successful implementation of the SDGs will help to:

  • Lift billions of people out of poverty, thereby growing consumer markets around the world;
  • Strengthen education, thereby fostering more skilled and engaged employees;
  • Make progress on gender equality and women empowerment, thereby creating a ‘virtual emerging market’ equivalent in size and purchasing power to that of China’s andIndia’s populations;
  • Ensure that the global economy operates safely within the capacity of the planet to supply essential resources such as water, fertile soil, metals and minerals, thereby sustaining the natural resources that companies depend on for production;
  • Foster accountable and well-governed institutions as well as open and rule-based trading and financial systems, thereby reducing the costs and risks of doing business.

5. Using a common language and shared purpose

The SDGs define a common framework of action and language that will help companies communicate more consistently and effectively with stakeholders about their impact and performance. Because they provide a unified sense of priorities and purpose across all dimensions of sustainable development, the SDGs may also assist in the creation of more effective partnerships with governments, civil society organizations and other companies.

See the SDG Compass website for more information and business tools and indicators databases to help measure & track your progress

Download the SDG Compass

Download the Executive Summary