Business Contributions to the SDGs – A Student Assessment
PARTNERS: Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), UN Global Compact, WikiRate
Universities around the globe are participating in the project "Business Contributions to the SDGs – A Student Assessment", 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, the project aims to double the amount in 2018, creating further possibilities for analyzing and understanding corporations’ performance and disclosure rates to the Sustainable Develpment Goals (SDGs).
This project brings together institutions and students around the world to research how corporations impact and contribute to the SDGs. Students use public documents to gather data on corporate sustainability performance according to a topic or SDG, for example SDG 3: Good Health & Well Being, aggregate the data on the WikiRate platform, and then use the data to address a specifc research question. Some students us the data-gathering exercise to critique the different approaches of reporting and disclosure, and to consider what kinds of information is missing. Others use the data to analyze disclosure rates or performance of a company over time. All the students learn more about how data is obscured, nuanced and difficult to compare, and think about the challenges of gathering data to understand how companies impact the SDG objectives.
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. The pilot outcomes were presented to member states during the 2017 UN SDG Forum at the High-Level Political Forum in New York, to showcase this effort to track company progress to the SDGs.
“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.”
– Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact
OBJECTIVES & OUTCOMES
As the project continues 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 also be explored.
Students receive a certificate of participation for their research efforts and contributions.
Read more on the first pilot phase here under Subprojects: 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.
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.