The Sustainable Development Goals: a common language for corporate reporting on societal issues

Source: , 6 October 2016

PwC was involved in the development of the SDG Compass launched by GRI, UNGC and WBCSD. The SDG Compass provides guidance on the SDGs and an inventory of business specific SDG indicators. As a next step, PwC launched the SDG Challenge in the Netherlands to identify best practices in reporting and stimulate the debate around the role business can take in tackling the SDGs. Although global consensus on a final business-specific set of indicators has not yet been achieved, PwC took inspiration from the SDG Compass to select a focused set of indicators for the SDG Challenge criteria. PwC assessed the extent to which corporate reporting in the Netherlands reflects meaningful company contributions to and progress on the SDGs. A publication summarises the findings.

Assessment criteria

PwC scored the quality of SDG reporting on a 0-5 scale for 34 indicators- two per SDG. To promote comparability, we defined indicators that are applicable across sectors and relevant from a reporting perspective. In addition, PwC formulated qualitative criteria to provide more insight into the story behind the numbers. Capturing the global SDG agenda in a compact set of business indicators is difficult but important. As SDG reporting matures, more meaningful indicators will emerge. The indicators selected here are a first step in this direction and we encourage feedback and discussion.

Independent jury

For the SDG Challenge PwC cooperated with an independent jury which brought together a range of experience and perspectives on the SDGs:

  • Giuseppe van der Helm (Chair), former Chairperson of VBDO
  • Hugo von Meijenfeldt, Dutch Coordinator National Implementation Global Goals
  • Pietro Bertazzi, Deputy Director for Policy and Global Affairs at GRI
  • Talitha Muusse, Social Entrepreneur and initiator of the Dutch Young Sustainable Top 100

The jury gave input on the selection of the 25 companies, on the criteria, reviewed the quantitative assessments and performed the qualitative assessment. 2 The Dutch organisation for investors in sustainable companies

Company selection

The jury selected 25 Dutch based companies across a range of sectors. Five companies were selected in four different industry sectors and five companies were selected in a miscellaneous category. The selection was based on a mix of listed and non-listed companies, government-owned and privately held. This selection was not intended as a statistically representative sample, nor did we strive for completeness. In our view this group of companies gives us sufficient insight into the relevance of SDGs reporting at this early stage. It is also for this reason that we present the overall picture, rather than individual company scores in subsequent chapters of this publication.



The PwC SDG Challenge – with the results of SDG reporting by 25 Dutch headquartered companies – shows that we are entering a new era of reporting against global goals. Companies are picking the SDGs up rapidly and we strongly believe the SDGs will be the new language for reporting on the role business plays in resolving issues in society. The next big challenge will be facilitating SDG reporting by small and medium-size enterprises, as they represent a substantial percentage of global economic activity. There could not be a better moment to launch the partnership between the Global Reporting Initiative and the United Nations Global Compact to shape the future of SDG reporting. On September 19th 2016 both organisations announced a new initiative to promote and advance corporate reporting on the SDGs. GRI and UNGC will work together to develop a list of disclosures for tracking business contributions to the SDGs and they will release a publication on SDG reporting.

Both GRI and UNGC will tap into their respective networks to create multi-stakeholder working groups including leading businesses, reporting experts and data users, who will work to shape corporate reporting on the SDGs. The PwC SDG Challenge gives insight in how companies are progressing with SDG reporting.

While reporting is sometimes seen as “after the fact”, public reporting of a commitment generates pressure to ensure that action follows. The SDG Challenge aims to accelerate progress on the SDGs by sharing best practices and recommendations. As the SDGs become mainstream in corporate reporting we will refine the criteria and extend the number of companies. Now it is up to business- to rise to the challenge.


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