Sustainability reporting can change the way a company does business. It also creates positive impacts for employees, customers and other stakeholders. I have seen this first-hand. Although corporate sustainability reporting and sustainability performance have improved over the past 20 years, more still needs to be done to deliver change at the scale we need.
The consultation around the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA), launched in New York earlier this year, is an important development in that regard. The WBA has the potential to become an institution that would develop, fund, house and safeguard free, publicly available corporate sustainability benchmarks aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As such it could play an important role in unleashing the full potential of the private sector to contribute to the SDGs.
We support this non-profit oriented mission because of three principles we share with the WBA. The first is transparency of the rating process. To drive corporate change, it is essential that companies understand how and why their performance is measured, and that the methodology is robust. It is also critical that this information is available to all stakeholders, from Investors, civil society and governments, to individual consumers. The second is a multi-stakeholder approach to developing the ratings. Just like the WBA, I believe benchmarks – and the indexes that derive from them – are only as powerful as the diversity of the actors that use them. The third principle revolves around independence from and impartiality with respect to commercial interests. This is essential for the credibility of benchmarks and for building trust between different stakeholders groups.
That’s what we need if we want to make a difference. And together we can.
Global Reporting Initiative
Aviva is one of the world’s largest insurance and asset management companies, its history tracing back more than 300 years. It has operations in 16 markets around the world, but through its investment portfolio, Aviva’s reach extends to a broader and larger group of consumers. The company is a LEAD member of the Global Compact; a founding member of both the UN Principles of Responsible Investment and the UN Sustainable Stock Exchange Initiative. It is also a frontrunner in responsible investments, using its influence to support more sustainable business and ultimately a more sustainable economy and society. Aviva is an active contributor and user of different corporate sustainability benchmarks, including a founding member of the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark. Aviva’s CEO Mark Wilson is a member of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC) and is personally committed to driving forward the sustainable development agenda and the creation of the WBA.
The Business & Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC) aims to make a powerful business case for achieving a sustainable, inclusive economy. Its flagship report Better Business, Better World, launched in January 2017, maps the economic prize for companies that align with the SDGs, and shows how to achieve them. The report includes the creation of SDGs benchmarks as one of the key recommendations. The Business Commission aims to make a powerful business case for achieving a sustainable and inclusive economy, if the UN Sustainable Development Goals are achieved. In its flagship report, Better Business, Better World, the Commission describes how business can contribute to delivering these goals. Chaired by Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, the Commission include 37 leaders from business, finance, civil society, labour, and international organisations from around the world.p>
Index Initiative is a centre of expertise in benchmarking corporate performance against stakeholder expectations. It seeks to propel the use of benchmarks to engage and bring purpose and clarity on the role of companies in contributing to the SDGs closest to their core business. A non-profit based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Index Initiative’s research and benchmarks are free and accessible to all. Index Initiative will conduct the global consultation on the World Benchmarking Alliance.
The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by philanthropic, corporate, government, and individual donors.