The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, agreed to by all 193 Member States at the United Nations (UN) in 2015, culminated in 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These Goals not only reflect global sustainable development priorities, but also lend themselves as an overarching framework for companies to shape business strategies that are aligned with the SDGs. While the business case for sustainability is widely acknowledged, how businesses approach the SDGs and account for their impact on sustainable development remains unclear. Such information is important for a variety of stakeholders such as shareholders, investors, regulators, government, and civil society – who share interests in understanding which industries and business models have the greatest synergies with specific SDG targets. This research report provides an analysis on how the SDGs are measured and disclosed in their annual and/or sustainability reports by the top 150 Australian public-listed companies (ASX150) (by market capitalisation, as at 1 July 2019).
The Report is a collaboration between RMIT University and the Global Compact Network Australia (GCNA) where the overarching aim is to contribute to the conversation about how Australian companies can make meaningful progress towards the achievement of the SDGs. Data analysis was led by the RMIT University research team. Readers of this report will learn how some of the largest Australian companies are acknowledging the SDGs, disclosing their commitment and prioritising the SDGs, aligning the SDGs with their business strategies, and their use of the SDG targets and indicators in performance measurement. We also identified the top 20 (‘Top20’) performing companies within ASX150 in terms of their awareness and commitment to the SDGs, and the quality of SDG measurement and reporting practices; noting that this insight was only with relation to the information contained in their annual / sustainability reports.
As reporting on the SDGs is relatively new, the insights from this study will help to lay the foundation for future research to benchmark progress made by Australian companies and foster good business reporting and accountability towards the SDGs. The findings of this study are envisaged to increase awareness and stimulate debate among businesses, government and regulatory agencies, civil society members, and other stakeholders on sustainable development and the SDGs.