Measuring Sustainability: A New Method for Assessing Corporate Impacts on the SDGs

Using scientific principles to create a strategy for investing in sector-level Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Investors have long aimed to align their investments with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, evaluating how corporations impact the SDGs is challenging, with many current efforts lacking depth and transparency. In response, a group of researchers have proposed an evidence-based review method for assessing sector-level impacts on individual SDGs. This method assigns scores using a traffic-light system, analyzing the impacts of 81 economic sectors on SDGs 1-16.

The review reveals that most economic sectors have a negative impact on environmental SDGs, with primary sector activities impacting the highest number of SDGs. The agricultural sector was used as a case study to demonstrate the spillover effects resulting from interactions between SDGs. The authors used Causal Loop methodology to highlight the importance of understanding ‘impact shadows’, the interconnectedness of SDGs, and the hierarchical nature of the goals for sustainable investment strategies.

Overall, this study emphasizes the need for investors to consider the broader effects of their investments on the SDGs. By taking into account how different sectors influence multiple goals, investors can make more informed and responsible decisions that contribute to sustainable development objectives.

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