Photo credit: Bangkok Post

Integrating SDGs into business strategies and operations with UNDP's SDG Impact Standards

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a universal call to action by the United Nations, aim to eradicate poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. The role of the private sector in this endeavor is indispensable. Businesses, with their vast reach and influence, are essential in driving the changes needed for the Goals. By aligning their strategies with SDGs, companies not only contribute to global objectives but also open up new avenues for sustainable business growth and competitiveness.

Recognizing businesses’ immense power to catalyze positive transformation, UNDP Sustainable Finance Hub launched SDG Impact, a flagship initiative working to accelerate private sector contributions towards SDG achievement. At the core of SDG Impact's sustainable business strategy are the SDG Impact Standards and Impact Measurement and Management (IMM). The SDG Impact Standards provide a comprehensive, voluntary framework for businesses and investors to integrate sustainability and SDGs into their management systems and decision-making practices. These standards are instrumental in guiding companies on how to operate sustainably and contribute positively to the SDGs.

Using the Standards, businesses have the opportunity to gauge the depth of their IMM practices that span their strategy, implementation, governance and disclosure related practices. A holistic approach integrating the SDG Impact Standards with the IMM-related business actions is crucial for understanding the full extent of a company's influence on these critical issues, allowing them to make informed decisions, report on their progress, and continually improve their contributions to sustainability.

A Model for Integration: Thailand’s Case

Thailand's promotion of the SDG Impact Standards and IMM offers a shining example of how these tools can be effectively utilized. UNDP Thailand, in collaboration with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand (SEC), launched the SDG Guidebook for Thai Listed Companies in October 2023.The guidebook serves as a practical guideline for integrating the SDGs into business operations and strategies and is aligned with the One Report disclosure requirement for listed companies in the country

During the launch, high-profile speakers from the government, regulator, enterprise association and development partners underlined this collaboration is a win for all stakeholders. Srettha Thavisin, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Thailand highlighted the guidebook and Standards are in line with Thailand’s sustainable pathway: “The SDG guidebook and the Impact Standards can be both a business opportunity and a new way to strengthen competitiveness for listed companies and the business sector in Thailand.”

The Securities Exchange Commission of Thailand (SEC) is dedicated to building a capital market ecosystem that supports sustainable growth, with a focus on raising businesses’ awareness of the integration of the SDGs, including responsible investments and sustainable value chain. They are using the guidebook to enhance Thai listed companies' knowledge and understanding of the SDGs, enable them to incorporate the principles into business operations effectively and facilitate their information disclosure in line with global best practices.

Notably, the SDG guidebook is tailored to the Thai regulator’s reporting requirements to help listed companies prepare accurate and comprehensive annual reports (56-1 One Report) aligned with international standards. “In essence, the SDG Guidebook can help to foster trust and confidence among investors and stakeholders across the entire business value chain” highlighted by Pornanong Budsaratragoon, Secretary-General of SEC.

In addition, the project also partnered with the Thai Listed Companies Association (TLCA) and Global Compact Network Thailand (GCNT) to create synergies with the local business trends and needs, including raising focuses on environmental preservation and global human rights protection and GCNT’s 'Race to the Top' initiative that encourages businesses to compete in doing good and being innovative.

What’s next?

In partnership with the SEC, UNDP Thailand and UNDP Sustainable Finance Hub are working on building capacities of staff and personnel from listed companies to help them navigate their sustainability journey and to embed purpose and impact in their business –as- usual practices. In addition, UNDP Thailand Country Office also works with the Government on an Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF) and has worked on the SDG Investor Map to promote and support the issuance of sustainable financing products, for both public and private sectors.

Emulating Thailand's Success

Regulators and policymakers governing capital markets worldwide interested in following Thailand's lead can start by evaluating their current sustainability practices, aligning their policies and goals with the SDGs, and utilizing the existing SDG Impact Standards. These tools offer a practical and effective approach to integrating sustainability into business operations, paving the way for a more sustainable and prosperous future.

For more information on how governments can collaborate on a tailored project, please contact Devahuti Choudhury at .

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