Skip to content

The EHS Leader's Guide to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

As of 2018, 53% of companies map their sustainability strategy to relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to a new report from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development -- and more are expected to do so in the coming years.

In other words: If you're not familiar with the SDGs yet, you need to be. 

This guide walk you through some of the key aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), so you'll be able to better understand the benchmarks companies have to meet in order to stay competitive. 

What are the Sustainable Development Goals? 

The Sustainable Development Goals are a group of 17 goals set by the United Nations as a way to "achieve a better and more sustainable future for all".

The goals tackle a wide range of issues, from poverty and economic growth to climate change. 

sustainable development goals

(Source: The United Nations,

A bit of background: According to the United Nations, their Millennial Development Goals (MDGs) fell short in addressing many of the challenges facing sustainable development. 

After three years of negotiations and debate, the UN Sustainability and Development Goals (SDGs) were born in 2015. The SDGs build on the UN's 8 Millennial Development Goals (MDGs) while addressing a broader range of issues.

As we mentioned above, more than half of companies map their sustainability strategy to relevant SDGs, and more are expected to do so in the coming years. 

How do the SDGs impact EHS leaders?

If companies want to satisfy stakeholders demands and stay relevant in today's competitive landscape, they need to align their sustainability efforts with the SDGs. Not because we say so, but because the data says so across multiple industries and countries.

Here are some key statistics for your consideration:

  • Sustainability reporting: 89% of reports reviewed acknowledge the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in some way
  • Sustainability activities: 53% of organizations map their sustainability strategy to relevant SDGs and provide some evidence of activities
  • Integrated reporting: 33% of corporate sustainability reports reviewed combine financial and non-financial information; 18% are self-declared 'integrated reports'
  • Digital reporting: 20% of reports reviewed provide a digital-first experience, but 53% of member companies include the bulk of their report content online to complement their PDF report 

As such, aligning sustainability activities with the SDGs, reporting on performance alongside financial metrics, and digitizing sustainability reporting will be a top priority for EHS leaders.

This is where technology must come in, enabling EHS leaders to bridge the gap between sustainable consumption and better financial performance. 

Dynamic dashboards, for example, give managers the ability to measure resource usage against goals and make strategic decisions in real-time. Data warehouse tools offer the ability to merge EHS data with financial data to produce integrated reports. 

By utilizing these tools, EHS leaders can play a vital role in moving their companies beyond "transparency" and driving meaningful change. 

New Call-to-action