Measuring & Governing

We see that our institutions and reporting frameworks are not fit for grasping the opportunities and risks of the near future. We are working to align corporate and national reporting systems with the Sustainable Development Goals. 

“Running a country, city or business without knowing how many resources you use compared to how many you have is like flying a plane without a fuel gauge.”

Mathis Wackernagel, President of Global Footprint Network

Many of the institutions that govern our markets and economies were built for a different era: when populations were smaller, when markets were more contained, when natural resources were ample.

Our finance institutions and banks, our statistical, regulatory and trade and organisations, even our government departments struggle to cope with the connections between social progress, environmental health and economic stability. In short, our institutions cannot cope with systemic risk. 

Key performance metrics give a limited picture of what is happening. GDP treats crime, divorces and natural disasters as economic gain; it ignores the functions of caring for children and elderly, and says nothing about how income is distributed. Quarterly financial reporting tells shareholders little about the stability of the company’s supply chains, their exposure to natural disasters or social upheaval, or the well-being of their employees.

The opportunity 

In 2015, all governments agreed on a set of global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Goals are not just an innovation map of what government and markets need to deliver. In an increasingly interdependent world, the SDGs provide decision makers – national, corporate and community – with a framework to think strategically across a range of variables over a fifteen year period. If corporate and national strategies and measurements for success can be aligned to the SDGs, decision makers will be able to react to the trends and risks on the horizon and make better informed choices. 

For citizens, voters and communities, the SDGs offers the key for holding decision makers to account. Alternative indicators can sharpen the attention of governments to the needs of communities and societies and drive greater accountability between the citizens and decision makers. 

Our positions

Our Coalition believes that the SDGs will prove transformational if they are applicable at different levels of operation – national, corporate and local. In the last few decades there has been a proliferation of different sustainability indices but most have been developed in isolation and for different purposes. The Coalition is working with accountancy bodies, national statistical bodies, governments and international institutions to align their measures of success with the SDGs. Read more about Measure What Matters

We see that the SDGs are an indivisible framework. While, the specifics of a given business model or national context might mean that some Goals are more relevant than others, we are keen to ensure that organisations do not cherry pick objectives at the expense of others. We are working with economists to understand the trade-offs between environmental, social and economic capital. See our Economics for Nature project. 

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