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  • Sustainable Development GoalsWhat you need to know about the Sustainable Development Goals and how EY can help

  • 2 | Sustainable Development Goals

  • Sustainable Development Goals | 3


    1. Sustainable Development Goals an introduction 4

    1.1 Setting the scene 5

    1.2 Defining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 6

    1.3 Aligning the SDGs with your companys strategy 7

    2 SDGs and materiality 8

    2.1 Why do (or should) the SDGs link with the identified

    material topics of a company? 8

    2.2 Establishing strategic SDG linkages 9

    3 SDGs and developing relevant KPIs and targets 10

    4 Measuring your results 14

    5 Reporting on the SDGs 16

    5.1 The reporting landscape 16

    5.2 Communicating on the SDGs 17

    5.3 Linking the SDGs and GRI 17

    6 Obtaining assurance 18

    7 How EY can help 19

  • | Sustainable Development Goals4

    1. Sustainable Development Goals an introduction

  • Sustainable Development Goals | 5

    Companies have long been involved in exercising their citizenship in society, including sustainability, corporate philanthropy, corporate governance and corporate social responsibility. These approaches, although significant, have difficulties in reaching a global scale and impact. As our planet continues to face massive economic, social and environmental challenges, there is a clear need for a universal language to proactively act, inspire and solve tomorrows global challenges. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), developed by the United Nations, could create this common language by setting the global development agenda and redirect investment flows (both public and private) towards the global developmental challenges. This will allow and trigger companies to advance sustainable development, both by minimizing possible negative impacts and maximizing positive impacts on society and planet.

    The SDGs and its associated targets, frame the 2030 Agenda with the vision and ambition to both achieve a balance among the three dimensions of sustainable development environmental, social and economic - and integrate them into a universal and visionary framework for global cooperation and action. We believe, and so it is echoed by the World Resources Institute, The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, The World Economic Forum and others, that the 17 SDGs will have a very important impact on the purpose of many enterprises all over the world. Contributing to these SDGs will be recognized by the international community as contributing to creating shared value for all stakeholders and therefore it will be a strong driving force for purpose and being future proof. When companies focus on a purpose that is rooted in creating value for others, improving the world we live in and inspiring the organization at all levels, they increase their ability to drive profits and create sustainable value.

    Franc van den Berg Partner EY Climate Change and Sustainability Services

    1.1 Setting the scene

  • | Sustainable Development Goals6

    The SDGs are a set of 17 global goals and have been agreed upon by all governments. The SDGs were developed through an intensive inclusive process (including more than 1.500 companies through the UN Global Compact) and as a result call for the key role that companies must play in achieving them.

    The SDGs succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), expanding the challenges that must be solved to eliminate poverty and embracing a wide range of inter-connected topics across sustainable development. The goals are universally applicable and create a common language for all actors (governments, international organizations and companies) involved in both developed as well as developing countries. Although the United Nations primarily target governments, the SDGs are designed to rally a wide range of actors to shape priorities for sustainable development efforts around the world in a common framework.


    With the presentation of the SDGs, the UN has again made a valuable contribution to the debate regarding sustainability reporting and taken a substantial step towards a global equal level playing field on sustainable development for all organizations. The SDGs can give direction to define the purpose of a company. Purpose is like the derivative of license to operate, it is not whether you deliver enough to compensate for what you take, it is whether you tackle the problems that humanity and our earth faces in a way that makes business sense.

    Jan Peter Balkenende Partner EY, Professor Erasmus University, and former Prime Minister of The Netherlands

  • Sustainable Development Goals | 7

    So why should companies act on the SDGs? Does it make business sense? We believe that companies that turn societal challenges into opportunities that enhance business growth and long-term competitiveness, will be positioned for success. By aligning your strategy with the SDGs, companies are able to use the SDGs as a framework to steer, communicate and report their vision, strategy, goals and activities and as a result yield the benefit of a range of advantages related to:

    Identification future business opportunities related to specific SDGs (the SDGs aim to redirect global investment flows towards the challenges);

    Anticipation stakeholder expectations and future policy direction at the international, national and regional level.

    In order to internalize the SDGs and align the SDGs with your strategy we have developed a 5 step approach:

    1.3 Aligning the SDGs with your companys strategy

    1. Identifying and linking materiality: companies are encouraged to link the SDGs to the identified material topics and strategy of the company. Based on this mapping exercise a company can act on the SDGs on which it has the most material impact (both positive and negative).

    2. Setting clear targets: After having identified the most relevant SDGs, this step will support companies in finding the right targets to steer sustainable development performance.

    3. Measuring your results: In order to manage your progress related to the SDGs it is key to measure performance. This third step will provide insights into this process.

    4. Communicating your message: we encourage companies to report and communicate on their sustainable development performance to increase transparency and in the light of multi-stakeholder engagement.

    5. Obtaining assurance: this step will assure the claims done with regard to the performance on the SDGs. Measurement systems as well as reporting standards need to be of a significant level in order to obtain assurance on such claims.

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    4. Reporting

    Identifying and linking materiality

    Setting clear targets

    Measuring your results

    Communicating your message

    Obtaining assurance

  • | Sustainable Development Goals8

    2. SDGs and materialityTo benefit from the opportunities and challenges presented by the SDGs, it is of great importance to connect your business strategy with the SDGs and focus your efforts. Not surprisingly, not all 17 SDGs are equally important to your company; your business might have a large (positive or negative) impact on some goals and an insignificant impact on others. Consequently, it makes business sense to take a strategic approach and align your corporate priorities with the relevant SDGs to better engage with customers, employees and stakeholders and optimize your impact. EY suggests to link your most material topics with relevant SDGs to focus your efforts and yield the most impact.

    Companies are already addressing relevant strategic economic, social and environmental topics through sustainability or corporate (social) responsibility. Over the years companies have adopted so-called materiality assessments to determine the most important topics for relevant stakeholders. Materiality can be referred to as the threshold at which topics become sufficiently important and thus should be addressed within the overall strategic planning of a company. Companies view a materiality assessment as a fundamental component of the strategic sustainability journey it enables them to focus on those topics that have the largest positive or negative impact. Addressing the SDGs through identified material topics, helps a company to integrate sustainability in their business strategy and as a result strengthen the economic incentives for companies to use resources more efficiently. By doing so companies can pursue a win-win situation thereby creating shared value for society at large.

    2.1 Whydo(orshould)theSDGslinkwiththeidentifiedmaterialtopicsofacompany?

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    Honest and fostering

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    Why were in business

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    Sustainable Development Goals | 9

    The results of a companys materiality assessment will indicate which strategic (sustainability) topics are most relevant to the business and stakeholders. It is valuable to connect these topics with the SDGs. Since companies have limited resources available, it is suggested to benefit from the opportunities provided by the SDGs to scale and develop solutions and technologies to address the worlds largest developmental and sustainability related challenges.

    In order to yield the most benefit from the established stra


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