The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can and must be integrated in to corporate reporting, according to a new agreement. UNCTAD and the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) have signed an updated memorandum of understanding (MoU), in which the two organizations will enhance their cooperation to integrate the SDGs into the corporate reporting cycle.

This action re-affirms the role of business in helping to achieve the SDGs, in particular Target 12.6 which specially commits to ‘integration in corporate reporting’ and drawing inspiration from Goal 12 on the need to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Integrated reporting is the concept of a more holistic form of reporting the value created by a business, which the IIRC’s coalition of business, investors and regulators is seeking to make the global norm, through reform of the corporate reporting system.

Responsible for addressing enterprise accounting and reporting issues in the UN system, UNCTAD has been active in assisting member States in developing a strong corporate reporting system to facilitate investment through its Intergovernmental Working Group of Experts on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting (ISAR). UNCTAD has been a supportive member of the IIRC Council, which acts as the focal point for developing a strong, effective, navigable and unified corporate reporting system, since the IIRC’s inception in 2010 and was part of the working group that developed the International <IR> Framework.

The updated MoU will see both organizations collaborating especially around the methodology for SDG Indicator 12.6.1 and in efforts to enhance support in the market. Previously, UNCTAD and the IIRC collaborated on the UNCTAD project to provide ‘Core Indicators’ which are opening benchmarks for business reporting of the SDGs, and which were unveiled by UNCTAD at its ISAR 35th session last October.

IIRC Chief Executive Richard Howitt said: “The IIRC encourages businesses to align their value creation models with the SDGs and use relevant metrics to measure and communicate on performance, (short term and long term). In order to achieve this and provide stakeholders with confidence, this is not just about the contents page of a report, but the pressing need for relevant and reliable information about business’ contribution to the SDGs which is fully integrated across the company and its reporting cycle”.