In 2012, the United Nations began a process of determining the successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were set to expire in 2015. The task of defining a future development agenda was led by Member States with broad participation from different stakeholder groups, including businesses and investors. This created an opportune moment for the UN Global Compact to help shape the future priorities of the UN and to prepare for supporting the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which were the culmination of this process. The new SDG framework builds on the MDGs. However, attempts to broaden the scope to include a range of economic and environmental objectives alongside traditional development objectives such as health and education has taken place. The SDGs lay out goals towards a more a peaceful, better governed and inclusive society. For the past several years, the UN Global Compact has played an important role in bringing business perspectives to the process of shaping the SDGs and will continue to support companies in implementing them.

From MDGs to SDGs

For example, the UN Global Compact has developed:

The Post-2015 Business Engagement Architecture

The Post-2015 Business Engagement Architecture illustrates the main building blocks necessary to enhance corporate sustainability as an effective contribution to sustainable development, creating value for both business and society. Each of these building blocks must be further strengthened and connected through a comprehensive and collective effort if they are to help take corporate sustainability to scale and turn business into a truly transformative force in the post-2015 era.

The SDG Compass

The SDG Compass guides companies on how they can align their strategies as well as measure and manage their contribution to the realization of the SDGs. The SDG Compass presents five steps that assist companies in maximizing their contribution to the SDGs: understanding the SDGs, defining priorities, goal setting, integrating sustainability and reporting.

The SDG Industry Matrix

The SDG Industry Matrix is a joint collaboration between the UN Global Compact and KPMG. The matrix highlights industry-specific examples and ideas for corporate action related to the SDGs. Presented in a series of publications, each matrix presents bold pursuits and decisions made by diverse companies for each SDG. The SDG Industry Matrices are intended to inspire greater business pursuit of opportunities which create value for society, as well as for shareholders. This could be through sparking new innovative approaches, prompting companies to replicate successful activities in new markets, and catalysing new collaborations and increasing participation in existing collaborations.

The Blueprint for Business Leadership on the SDGs

The Blueprint for Business Leadership on the SDGs aims to inspire all business — regardless of size, sector or geography — to take leading action in support of the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It illustrates how the five leadership qualities of Ambition, Collaboration, Accountability, Consistency, and Intentional can be applied to a business' strategy, business model, products, supply chain, partnerships, and operations to raise the bar and create impact at scale. The Blueprint is a tool for any business that is ready to advance its principled approach to SDG action to become a leader.

The Global Opportunity Explorer

The Global Opportunity Explorer provides the global business community with direct access to the most innovative business solutions and emerging market opportunities to help achieve and understand the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), end extreme poverty, reduce inequality and protect our planet. A joint project of DNV GL, Sustainia and the UN Global Compact, the Explorer is a digital platform that helps business leaders, entrepreneurs and investors connect with new partners, projects, markets and talents to deliver on the SDGs.

An Analysis of the Goals and Targets

This report is a first step towards a uniform mechanism for business to report on their contribution to and impact on the SDGs in an effective and comparable way. It contains a list of existing and established disclosures that businesses can use to report, and identifies relevant gaps, where disclosures are not available. It also lists illustrative actions that businesses can take to make progress towards the SDG targets.

Integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into Corporate Reporting: A Practical Guide

The Practical Guide outlines a three-step process to embed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into existing business and reporting processes. It helps business to better report their impact on the SDGs and address the information needs of relevant stakeholders. This Guide follows an approach that is aligned with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the GRI Standards.

Addressing Investor Needs in Business Reporting on the SDGs

Addressing Investor Needs in Business Reporting on the SDGs features recommendations on how corporate reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can best address investors’ information needs. By helping inform investors' decision-making process, corporate SDG reporting can stimulate more investment in sustainable business solutions to help advance the Global Goals.

Transforming Partnerships for the SDGs

In this report, the UN Global Compact focuses its attention on transforming partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Following a decade of research into the views of business leaders worldwide, the UN Global Compact examines the views of UN leaders. As the UN Secretary-General calls for enhanced cooperation between the United Nations and the private sector, the UN Global Compact asks agency heads and partnership practitioners across the UN system: what will it take to scale up partnerships to bring about transformational impact on the SDGs?

The Action Platforms to achieve the SDGs

To achieve the ambitious and necessary goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN Global Compact has developed a portfolio of Action Platforms to advance responsible business activities and fill emerging gaps in meeting the Global Goals. Rooted in the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact, each Action Platform will convene business, Global Compact Local Networks, leading experts, civil society, Governments and UN partners to solve complex and interconnected issues, explore new market opportunities and innovate around the Global Goals.

Global Compact LEAD

All of LEAD’s work aims to inspire and advance the full integration of sustainability into core business operations. In 2016 LEAD will play a critical role in leading, advancing and inspiring company action towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through core business and partnerships, exploring the need for breakthrough innovations business models and technologies, and continuing its efforts in shaping investor-company engagement and communication.

For a quick overview of the main tools available around business engagement with the SDGs, please see the UK Network's Toolkit.

Learn more on business and the SDGs in the UK by reading the reports from our SDG Roadshow 2018 events.