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In Addressing Sustainable Development Goals, Companies Align With Economic Development But Lag on Environment

  • Analysis looks at how thousands of companies around the world are aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals
  • Economic growth and gender equality are areas where businesses are most likely to be aligned
  • Despite green initiatives, environmental goals are where businesses are most likely to be misaligned

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

An analysis of how businesses worldwide are meeting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals finds that companies are most likely to contribute to economic growth and gender equality. Despite many businesses adopting green initiatives, companies were most likely to misaligned with the UN goals on climate and environmental issues.

The analysis looked at 8,550 companies worldwide and created an index scoring them by their positive or negative contributions toward the 17 goals. The UN established the Sustainable Development Goals in 2012 as part of an objective to guide a more sustainable future by the year 2030. The goals, which have been adopted by 193 countries, have the core values of protecting the planet, ending poverty, and securing peace and prosperity.

Approximately 55 percent of businesses were either not aligned with the goals or neutral, while 38 percent were aligned. Just 0.2 percent were strongly aligned.

Companies were most likely to be aligned with the goal of decent work and economic growth, followed by gender equality. Many results were industry specific, with the education sector showing the strongest commitment to gender equality and utilities most likely to align with the clean and affordable energy goal.

As businesses work to improve their energy efficiency, reduce waste, and take other steps to pursue environmental initiatives, the goal of responsible consumption and production was the third most likely one where businesses were aligned. However, it was also the most common goal on which companies were misaligned, followed by the goals of affordable and clean energy and climate action.

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