The Better Business, Better World report published earlier this year by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission found that additional value of up to $12 trillion per annum globally can be realized in four economic systems: food and agriculture; cities; energy and materials; and health and well-being. This “SDG dividend” should not be viewed only in terms of potential profit but also the opportunity to deeply integrate sustainable development concerns into core business processes.
This requires a willingness to determine how commercial practices and business functions can contribute to attaining the SDGs, such as through sourcing, employment, tax practices and corporate strategy. It also requires examining production processes so they become more sustainable. In short there is a need to explore new business models that to a greater degree align business agendas with societal aims. The question is not whether companies should position relative to the SDGs, but how they should do so.
A recent survey by the UN Global Compact shows that the rationale for applying the SDGs in a business context is clearly recognized by the private sector. The survey found that 87% of over 1,000 CEOs interviewed from around the world “believe the SDGs provide an opportunity to rethink approaches to sustainable value creation,” with 70% seeing the SDGs as providing “a clear framework to structure sustainability efforts.” And we are seeing that these beliefs are increasingly being put into practice. For example, the World Business Commission on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) found that more than 50 of its 163 members worldwide are already reporting publicly on the SDGs.
Recognising the crucial actual and potential contribution of the private sector in achieving the SDGs, UNDP Philippines and the Philippine Business for the Environment cooperated to produce this publication on the voluntary reporting of the private sector’s contribution to the SDGs. Though private sector reporting and efforts to establish processes for applying the SDGs are still being developed in the Philippines, the report highlights a range of interesting initiatives of some companies . These cases can serve as an inspiration to other enterprises.
We hope this will be the first in a series of annual reports. We envision that succeeding publications will encourage more companies to be involved – from large enterprises to medium, small, micro and even start-ups. We also hope that these annual reports will be complemented by annual forums that facilitate exchange of knowledge and experiences and the collective identification of obstacles and innovative solutions to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs. Drawing on the numerous resources for business action on the SDGs, we hope this annual publication and forums can assist companies to maximize their contribution to the SDGs by helping them to: better understand the SDGs; clearly define their priorities; help set goals; support integration of the SDGs into core business practices; and advance robust reporting and communication of achievements.
As UN Secretary-General António Guterres recently noted, the private sector is critical to achieving the SDGs: “without the private sector we will not have the necessary innovation, we will not have the necessary capacity to discover new markets, new products, new services and tobe able to develop new areas in the economy… and it is only the private sector that can create enough jobs to stabilize societies”.
We thank all the firms that have contributed to this report and look forward to strengthening our partnership for the SDGs, for secure, sustainable and inclusive development in the Philippines.