SDGs Research

SDGs Research

Business Contributions to the SDGs – A Student Assessment

This project aims to aggregate corporate ESG data to better understand private sector contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while educating the next generation of corporate professionals. We do this through creating assignments that engage students in higher education institutions in proactively identifying, aggregating, analysing, and sharing the achievements of companies to the SDGs as reported in their CSR and Communication on Progress reports submitted to the UN Global Compact. 

“The need to gather data on SDG impact is clear. With over 8,000 companies of all sizes around the world, and the largest repository of data on corporate implementation of sustainability principles and practices, the UN Global Compact is in a good position to harvest SDG data. We are committed to helping measure private sector contribution to the SDGs for next year’s High Level Political Forum.”[1]

– Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact

Through this research we are able to see what companies are disclosing and what they are not disclosing, as well as develop comparable and open analyses around how they are performing to different SDGs. As a relatively new framework, no one knows exactly how companies should be reporting to the SDGs, so this research allows multi-stakeholder engagement approach to collaboratively develop our understanding and assessments of how companies can and should contribute towards the 2030 targets.

Universities around the globe are participating in the project, with 1300 students at 11 higher education institutions in 9 countries engaged in 2017. Building on the over 20,000 data points on corporate sustainability performance aggregated in 2017, we are aiming to double the amount in 2018, creating further possibilities for analysing and understanding corporations’ performance and disclosure rates. 

PARTNERS: Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), UN Global Compact, WikiRate

A full report on the 2017 pilot phase included analysis of the data collected with respect to corporate disclosure rates across sustainability topics and specific SDGs; and research on the curriculum integration from a pedagogical perspective, alongside assessment of learning outcomes and student and professor experiences. Outcomes from the pilot were presented to member states during the UN’s High-Level Political Forum to showcase company progress towards achieving the SDGs (see Full report on pilot phase [2]).

Data research for 2018 is centralized here: PRME Data collection - core metrics for companies


As the project develops over 2018, we aim to:

  • Embed the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the minds of the next generation of business leaders through active research and analysis, promoting engagement and familiarity with companies’ reporting outputs,

  • Create practical learning opportunities for students and empower  company activities as they relate to responsible and sustainable business operations, and highlight the most notable achievements of companies in each major industry,

  • Introduce students to a collaborative research environment where they can work with researchers and professors across the globe,

  • Seek structured ways of tracking company performance towards the SDGs and the UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles, testing a broad selection of metrics of performance from standards like the Global Reporting Initiative and UN Global Compact’s Poverty Footprint,

  • Support the UN Global Compact and UN member states in efforts to analyse and assess business contributions to the SDGs.


An analysis and report of the 2018 phase of the project will be published, contributing to government and civil society efforts to track corporate activity and impact on the SDGs. Possibilities for presenting the research and activities by students and professors at international and academic conferences will additionally be explored.

Students additionally receive a certificate of participation for their research efforts and contributions.

Read more on the first pilot phase here: Phase 1: Business Contributions to the SDGs - A Student Assessment

If you have an interest in participating in this project, or want to learn more, get in touch through our contact form.

[1] UN Global Compact Commits to Tracking and Measuring Business Impact on SDGs

[2] Final Report: Business Contributions to the SDGs - A Student Assessment

University SDG Performance (inactive)

While much research on WikiRate focuses on the sustainability performance of companies, and analysis of that data, the same approach can be used to understand and compare university sustainability performance and impact.

There are many frameworks for this, and some which are heavily adopted by universities across certain regions. A pilot project using Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) metrics was run in early 2017 with professors and students at the University of Michigan in the United States and University of Worcester in the United Kingdom. In the initial stage, metrics were mapped to the SDGs to provide a framework for universities to start to understand how metrics link to specific SDGs with the hope that it will enable universities to connect business strategies and teaching with global priorities.