Impact reporting should include Sustainable Development Goals


Sustainable development goals concept. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations (UN) in 2015 are 17 unique goals aimed at addressing society's critical challenges by 2030.

The goals include ending poverty to quality education, gender equality, clean water, climate action, reducing inequality, and affordable and clean energy, to name a few.

These goals speak directly to outcomes critical in building a sustainable future for all. Therefore, stakeholders in the public and private sectors have an essential role to play if these goals were to be achieved.

The UN 2023 SDG report indicates that halfway into implementation, over 50 percent of the 140 targets evaluated were moving in the wrong direction, with at least 30 percent of the targets regressed from the 2015 baseline. It paints a concerning picture of the progress or lack thereof towards the sustainability agenda.

As organisations redefine their role in society and embrace sustainability, they should consider the SDGs in their definition of outcomes or impact, including how they report and measure these outcomes.

An alignment between the SDGs and how organisations measure and report on outcomes will go a long way to increasing efforts to meet the SDGs in the second half of implementation to 2030. After all, these challenges addressed by the SDGs form part of the non-financial issues facing many organisations today.

For example, an organisation that provides lending that is tailored to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), providing access to capital with mechanisms that mitigate credit risks, is playing a critical role in reducing poverty and should measure outcomes focusing on the impact it is having on lives and specifically the SDG on poverty eradication.

This way, organisations tell an impact story of how they have supported people and communities out of poverty.

Therefore, organisations must ensure their sustainability KPIs align with the SDGs to focus more on outcomes and impact.

Some of the urgent steps proposed to meet the 2030 SDGs include a focus on eradicating poverty, reducing inequality and ending the war on nature, which are similar outcomes most organisations are seeking. Therefore, impact measurement and reporting by organisations should include the SDGs.

The writer is a Partner at Deloitte East Africa. He is an author who writes and speaks widely on corporate reporting topics.

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