The long-term future of some industries and businesses depends on the achievement of one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted in 2015 as the sustainable development agenda for the world to 2030.

Climate action is particularly important, but social and economic inequality are also an issue for businesses leading to volatility in financial markets.

While overall responsibility for the SDGs lies with national governments, they cannot be achieved without a concerted effort by business and organisations.

As part of my research into the subject, I have been working on a report funded by ICAS and published by the IIRC, which sets out a framework for organisations to align their strategy for contributing to the SDGs with the International <IR> Framework.

The SDGs cannot be achieved without a concerted effort by business and organisations.

The framework for contributing to the SDGs through the <IR> value creation process provides a structure for embedding sustainable development issues in an organisation’s decision making, strategies and business model. It involves a five-step process:

1. Understand sustainable development issues relevant to the organization’s external environment.

2. Identify material sustainable development issues that influence value creation.

3. Develop strategy to contribute to the SDGs through the business model.

4. Develop integrated thinking, connectivity and governance.

5. Prepare the integrated report.

The report provides practical guidance on implementation and is underpinned by a conceptualisation informed by research. It sets out how each step is informed by the International <IR> Framework. The steps provide a framework for thinking about sustainable development risks and opportunities in developing strategy. Following this will help organisations protect themselves from risk and help identify opportunities – both important in long-term value creation. This makes good business sense.

The report will help organisations protect themselves from risk and help identify opportunities.

As George Cobb, Group Sustainability Accountant, SSE, and Chair of the ICAS Sustainability Panel said:

“The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) present business with a real opportunity to play their part in delivering the global commitment to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

“This report provides a valuable resource to help organisations make the connection between their overarching sustainable agenda to their long-term value creation process, strategic thinking and, most importantly, future decision-making.”

The project on aligning the SDGs with integrated reporting was funded by ICAS and authored by Carol Adams. It was guided by a joint ICAS IIRC Steering Committee and an Advisory Committee. It was supported by the Green Economy Coalition. The framework can be downloaded here

Carol Adams is Professor of Accounting at Durham University Business School, consults on corporate reporting and writes on her website at She has been involved in various global corporate reporting initiatives and is currently a member of the ICAS Sustainability Panel, the Climate Disclosure Standards Board’s Technical Working Group and the Stakeholder Council of the Global Reporting Initiative.

This article was originally posted on ICAS