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Few companies incorporate SDGs into strategy, says PwC

According to a study by Big Four professional services firm PwC, nearly 72% of organizations mention the UNʼs Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their annual corporate or sustainability reports, up 10% from last year. However, only 27% of companies claim that SDGs are actually a part of their business strategy.

The Sustainable Development Goals are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015. The integration of concrete steps and goals is still on hold for a number of companies, as organizations find it difficult to determine what measures to take beyond their normal business activities, a PwC press release says. According to some estimates, the SDGs can generate billions of dollars in revenues and cost savings, as well as creating new jobs with the arrival of new business opportunities.

"Progress in widening awareness and integration of goals is a positive step for SDGs, but only a tiny one," says Andrea Major, partner of PwC Hungary. "For each of the 17 goals, there are urgent, real problems that have a direct impact on the business world. Despite clear openness to the goals, many organizations do not have the strategy, culture, and tools to transform their commitments into tangible business steps."

About half of the surveyed companies have identified priority SDGs, but only 28% use key performance indicators (KPIs) to achieve the goals they have set. The technology, media and telecommunications industries, as well as the energy, utilities and mining sectors, are those that most frequently mention SDGs in their reports.

"If we make them a central part of our business strategy, we can succeed in achieving our goals," says Janka Karsai, PwC Hungaryʼs senior manager for sustainable business solutions. "What companies are planning to include in their reports to the authorities, what they are measuring and what they report, is a good indication of the effort behind their strategies and priorities. Strategies are still being shaped by the CEOs of organizations, which gets embedded in the key performance indicators and reports."

The survey, conducted in 21 countries and six sectors, is based on corporate and sustainability reports from over 700 listed companies, examining the extent to which the SDGs are integrated into business strategy, planning and reporting. The goals help organizations address the worldʼs environmental, social and economic challenges, the PwC press release notes.