New standard launched to certify business commitments to SDGs

A new standard was launched on Monday (10 July) to quantify, certify and maximise the business contributions to the development of climate change mitigation and other key targets listed by the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Gold Standard – the climate standard and certification body established by WWF in 2003 – has added to its carbon credits scheme to account for certified SDGs impacts. The standard is available to corporates, impact investors and government bodies and is designed to stop cases of greenwashing in the private sector.

“More and more, we see major corporations making commitments to climate and other SDG targets, yet many are struggling to accurately measure and report their contributions and then translate this into language their stakeholders understand,” Gold Standard’s chief executive Marion Verles said.

“Our new standard captures what people really care about. Beyond lowering greenhouse gases, we’re reporting impacts such as the creation of new jobs, access to clean energy and water, better health, and the protection of natural habitats. This opens the door to new opportunities to communicate credible impacts and allows businesses to receive the recognition they deserve.”

Re-branding CSR

All projects certified under the Gold Standard for the Global Goals will have to contribute to at least three SDGs, with the Climate Action goal being a mandatory requirement. Both ClimateCare and EcoAct are strategic partners in the development and delivery of the new standard.

Gold Standard will now partner with the UNFCCC Secretariat – the body charged with delivering the aims of the Paris Agreement. The partnership will develop a range of methodologies, tools and best practice guidance the help companies assess and align their impacts with the SDGs.

WWF Switzerland’s chief executive Thomas Vellacott added: “We’re seeing an emerging risk of corporates simply re-branding their CSR efforts to match the SDGs. What WWF would like to see is clear, consistent and comparable performance from one business to another. Gold Standard for the Global Goals provides real metrics and credible methodologies to accurately measure and report on SDG contributions.” 

The arrival of the standard comes just days after financial services provider Mastercard and global tech firm HP aligned pledges regarding food poverty and education to the SDGs.

Mastercard has vowed to raise funds to provide 100 million meals to vulnerable communities across the world, while HP has committed more than $20m in technology, training and R&D to enable better learning outcomes for more than 100 million people by 2025.

Financial services are also keen to help with the delivery of the global goals. Earlier this year, the World Bank issued its first ever set of green bonds that directly link financial returns to companies performing to the standards and aims on the SDGs.

With new revenue streams aimed towards the goals, research has suggested that placing them at the heart of global strategies could unlock $12trn worldwide.

Matt Mace

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie