The Alliance was unveiled in New York today (24 September) by global investor Aviva, not-profit Index Initiative and the UN Foundation. It will deliver publicly available data that ranks a company’s performance on their contributions to achieving the global Goals.

WBA executive director Herbrand Haverkamp said: “With only 12 years left to deliver against the SDGs, governments, businesses, civil society and individuals alike must make a concerted effort to achieve progress.

Haverkamp added: “The real value of benchmarks is that they will empower society to make decisions that are in line with societal values, which will ultimately create demand for corporate responsibility.”

‘Healthy dose of competition’

The group will assess the progress of 2,000 companies against a range of corporate benchmarks by 2023, with the first indicators, due to be published in 2020, set to address food and agriculture, climate and energy, digital inclusion and gender equality.

The WBA is funded by Aviva and the Governments of the Netherlands, UK and Denmark.

Aviva’s group chief executive Mark Wilson claimed the initiative will help to promote competition among companies in their race to deliver against the SDGs.

“We need to harness the power of economics to do what’s best for society and the planet. Benchmarks will be the ‘floodlights of sustainability’, shining a powerful light on how far companies and regulators are meeting their responsibilities.

“They allow consumers and investors to make informed choices based on sustainability performance. League tables will inject a healthy dose of competition to encourage both businesses and regulators to do better at thinking and acting for the long-term.”

The Alliance launch coincides with the UN General Assembly’s Global Goals Week in New York, which aims to drive action and raise awareness of the SDGs.

Discussions will look at how businesses can bridge the gap between ambition and action on the Global Goals, after a string of reports showed that a huge proportion of firms to have made SDG pledges have not yet to set any measurable targets related to the Goals, nor are they monitoring progress against them.

Diversity and inclusion

One of the key elements of the SDGs is an aim to drive diversity and inclusion. This week, Blackrock and Thomson Reuters teamed up to launch an exchange traded fund (ETF) to provide investors with a way to invest in companies that promote diversity and inclusion practices.

The Fund tracks the Thomson Reuters Diversity and Inclusion Index which ranks more than 2,000 companies across areas such as diversity, inclusion and people development, which have been shown to benefit companies’ long-term performance.

Rachel Lord, head of EMEA at BlackRock said: “We know that diverse teams make better decisions, and this is ultimately good for investors. We are launching this Fund at a time when a spotlight is firmly on companies to show what they are doing to improve diversity of their workforce, and as investors demand new funds to express specific preferences within their portfolios.

“It is a significant step forward in the evolution of products that harness the power of social change to deliver long-term investment outcomes.”

George Ogleby  

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