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Our planet faces enormous economic, social and environmental challenges and despite important progress, no country is on track to achieve all SDGs by 2030. Awareness is growing that the SDGs, the Paris Agreement and sustainable development beyond 2030 can only be achieved through transformational change and that without these transformations we will never achieve truly socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable economies and societies.
Tackling these systemic issues requires a systems-based approach. Achieving systems change – the “intentional process designed to alter the status quo by shifting and realigning the form and function of a targeted system” – is highly complex, it requires large-scale and fundamental transformations of the societal systems driving current environmental and social pressures. Such transformations will require changes in current institutions, practices, technologies, policies, lifestyles and thinking.
Business can play a key role in leading these transformations by creating sustainable, inclusive and innovative solutions. However, businesses managing these deep and long changes require roadmaps that are rooted in the pathways to sustainable futures. Benchmarks developed by the World Benchmarking Alliance provide exactly these roadmaps. Benchmark methodologies translate societal expectations into metrics, providing companies with a clear path forward. Benchmarks and league tables in turn show where industries and individual companies stand in their journey towards a more sustainable future.
The identified systems transformations that are needed to put society and our economy on a sustainable path include:
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.