Businesses better at working on the 2030 Agenda

09.09.19 | News
Magnus Fröderberg/
Nordic members of the UN Global Compact are among the companies doing the most work on the 2030 Agenda. They have also become better at integrating the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their activities, according to a new study, which also says that companies could do even more if they received appropriate support from the public sector.

The study Nordic businesses and the 2030 Agenda – Global Compact Nordic Survey 2019 looks at how Nordic companies work with the 17 SDGs. The 243 respondents have signed the non-binding UN Global Compact, the biggest sustainability initiative in the world for companies and organisations.

The study shows that the businesses are keen to work on the 2030 Agenda and are capable of identifying which of the SDGs are important to them in particular.

The findings also show that work on the 2030 Agenda permeates the whole of their internal organisations and 90% responded that executive management does not seek to stop them integrating the SDGs into their work. Only 14% said that financial decisions represent a barrier.

Almost four out of five (79%), say that they have integrated sustainability into their strategies. 42% have a management structure for sustainability work with decision-making rights and a budget, while 29% say that the SDGs help them identify new business opportunities.

Focus on working conditions and the environment

The respondents see the greatest potential in work on sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12), climate action (SDG 13), decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), health and well-being (SDG 3) and gender equality (SDG 5).

Less attention was paid to oceans and marine resources (SDG 14), ecosystems and marine resources (SDG 15) and work to eradicate poverty (SDG 1) and hunger (SDG 2).The biggest barriers to working on the goals, according to the report, are finding the right indicators, integrating the SDGs into company activities and the current forms of financial reporting.

Call for more support

In general, respondents felt that official agencies and governments could do more. Only 13% considered the support adequate. On the other hand, the survey shows that companies are poorly informed about national plans and existing support mechanisms.

In other words, there is plenty of development potential in terms of national funding and support and from the executive management of their own organisations. The report shows that business leaders could weigh sustainability more heavily as an indicator in their overall results. Linking company budgets and performances to the SDGs moves the 2030 Agenda further up internal hierarchies.