Dutch business sector embraces Sustainable Development Goals

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Publication: Act Together - Sustainability Performance of Dutch Stock Listed Companies - AGM Report 2018

The largest listed companies in the Netherlands embrace the Sustainable Development Goals. Research by the Association of Investors for Sustainable Development (VDBO) at 35 Dutch listed companies shows that important progress was made on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2017. Step-by-step progress was also made regarding Natural Capital and Liveable Wages. Companies are encouraged by VBDO to develop an extensive picture of all three themes, with the SDGs as a guiding framework. These are the most important conclusions of the report ‘Act Together’, which was presented in Amsterdam, June 2018, at a meeting for companies and investors.

“Companies clearly picked up the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015,” says research leader Xander Urbach. Almost all companies refer to the Goals in their annual report or other public communication. 26 companies undertake concrete actions to achieve the SDGs; last year there were still 16. Companies are also increasingly working together in this context, both with public and private partners. Companies are encouraged by VBDO to formulate concrete, measurable and time-bound targets for their contribution in 2018, which is often not yet the case.

With regard to natural capital, the whole of products and services provided by nature, further progress was noted. Companies are clearly aware of their impact on the living environment. On this basis, they develop concrete initiatives to reduce their footprint to a minimum, such as clearing the plastic soup or embracing circular principles. Increasingly, concrete, measurable and time-bound objectives are being presented here and again. VBDO also likes to see more explicit reporting on the dependence on natural capital and the risks that this entails.

In addition, progress has been made gradually with regard to the payment of a Living Wage. Paying a salary that allows employees to provide themselves and their family members with basic needs (such as food and shelter) remains a difficult concept for many companies. “Nevertheless, the leaders of Vopak and Signify have tested their salaries for the first time this year on scientific indicators”, says Urbach. In addition, 8 companies have made a commitment to pay a living wage, which in 2016 were only 3 companies. VBDO encourages all companies to carry out such an analysis and to contribute to sector initiatives to ensure adequate rewards in the supply chain.