Report: BROOKINGS – How corporations are approaching sustainability and the Global Goals

On 8 Tuesday 2019 George Ingram, Mai Nguyen, and Milan Bala published the learnings of their study ‘Leveraging the business sector for a sustainable future’ finalised in May 2018 on the Brookings website. They studied 40 companies by desktop review and interviewed 14 of the sample for more details.

Key Take-Aways:

  • Most companies see their contribution to the SDGs in terms of corporate sustainability goals and practices.
  • However, while most companies refer to the SDGs in their publications in general, less than half track corporate and sustainability goals or activities against specific SDGs.
  • Companies in the Food, Beverage and Consumer Goods industry have the highest level of overall engagement with the SDGs.
  • The main challenge in engagement with the SDGs is the lack of awareness of the goals among stakeholders.
  • The drivers for companies to undertake sustainability are contextual and dependent on the nature of their business, the interests of their stakeholders, and the business environment.
    • There is a strong alignment between the drivers to take on corporate sustainability and engage with the SDGs.
    • All drivers can be categorized as business-case drivers or value-based drivers, although there are some overlapping features.
    • 84% of companies identify most strongly with business-case drivers. Some companies are driven both by business imperatives and value systems. Only a handful of companies identify purely with value-based drivers.
  • Embedding corporate sustainability in the business happens in three key arenas: strategic, operational and organizational integration

Top three goals that companies have demonstrated a commitment to:

  • SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth)
  • SDG 12 (Responsible Production and Consumption)
  • SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals)

Least attention to:

  • SDG 1 (No Poverty)
  • SDG 2 (Zero Hunger)
  • SDG 14 (Life Below Water)

Given the significant role of the business sector in employment creation, driving economic growth, and providing goods and services, SDG 8 and SDG 12 are a natural fit. Data collected from interviews and communication materials reflect that companies highly value partnerships (SDG 17) as part of implementing their corporate sustainability activities and contributing to the SDGs. Meanwhile, companies often view the bottom-ranked goals, particularly SDG 1, SDG 2, SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities), and SDG 16 (Peace, Justive and Strong Insitutions), as areas where governments have more responsibility and where there is least potential for companies to create impact or find business opportunity.

 Companies researched (interviewed underlined)
  • Energy, Natural Resources & Chemicals (5 companies): Chevron (USA), Total SA (France), Centrica PLC (UK), Red Electrica Corp SA (Spain), Syngenta AG (Switzerland)
  • Financial Services (6 companies): JPMorgan Chase (USA), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (Australia), Ant Financial (China), Westpac Banking Corp (Australia), UBS Group AG (Switzerland), Blackrock (USA)
  • Food, Beverage & Consumer Goods (10 companies): Land O’Lakes (USA), AB InBev (Belgium), Coca Cola (USA), Nestlé (Switzerland), Walmart (USA), Henkel AG & Co KGaA (Germany), LG Electronics Inc (South Korea), Mark & Spencer Group (UK), Industria de Diseño Textil SA (Inditex) (Spain), Mars (USA)
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences (6 companies): Johnson & Johnson (USA), Roche Holding AG (Switzerland), Koninkijke Philips NV (Philips) (Netherlands), Allergan plc (Ireland), Centene (USA), Novartis (Switzerland)
  • Industrials, Manufacturing & Construction (6 companies): Bechtel (USA), Grupo Argos SA/Colombia (Colombia), Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc (Taiwan), Flowserve (USA), Volvo Car Group (Sweden), CH2M (USA)
  • Information Technology & Telecommunication (7 companies): Tata Sons (Tata Group) (India), Accenture (Ireland), IBM (USA), Nokia OYJ (Finland), Konica Minolta Inc (Japan), Apple (USA), SAS Institute Inc. (USA)

Read original article here.

 

Infographic: The Anatomy of a Smart City

Today, 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050. Projections show that urbanization, the gradual shift in residence of the human population from rural to urban areas, combined with the overall growth of the world’s population could add another 2.5 billion people to urban areas by 2050, with close to 90% of this increase taking place in Asia and Africa, according to an United Nations data set launched on 16 May 2018 (Link).

The 2018 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects produced by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) notes that future increases in the size of the world’s urban population are expected to be highly concentrated in just a few countries. Together, India, China and Nigeria will account for 35% of the projected growth of the world’s urban population between 2018 and 2050. By 2050, it is projected that India will have added 416 million urban dwellers, China 255 million and Nigeria 189 million.

The urban population of the world has grown rapidly from 751 million in 1950 to 4.2 billion in 2018. Asia, despite its relatively lower level of urbanization, is home to 54% of the world’s urban population, followed by Europe and Africa with 13% each.

Nowadays, the most urbanized regions include Northern America (with 82% of its population living in urban areas in 2018), Latin America and the Caribbean (81%), Europe (74%) and Oceania (68%). The level of urbanization in Asia is now approximating 50%. In contrast, Africa remains mostly rural, with 43% of its population living in urban areas.

What kind of impacts this crucial development has and how Smart Cities are expected to cope with them is nicely put together by Visual Capitalist in the following infographic.
Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist