2,000 companies ranked by sustainability influence

The World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) has revealed the “SDG2000”, a list of the companies that have “the most influence” over our ability to move to a more sustainable future.

Listed, private and state-owned companies identified include Apple, Facebook, Netflix, Tesla, Coca Cola, Tencent and Starbucks, demonstrating the scale of effort needed across industries.

Taking impact as the key differentiator, the list also reveals the influence wielded by companies and groups like Saudi Aramco, Africell and Safaricom in Africa, Cargill, Banco Colombia and Temasek, whose global footprint and control over segments of production and/or service provision make them key players in future sustainability.

Richard Hardyment, Research Director at WBA, said: “For the first time, we have identified the who – the most influential companies when it comes to sustainable development. As investors, employees and consumers demand more from business, WBA benchmarks will set out whether these keystone companies are performing.”

The list – comprised of companies which collectively make up half of the entire global economy and are responsible for $43 trillion in revenue – is part of WBA’s mission to measure the private sector’s impact and efforts in sustainability with one global accountability mechanism.

Companies must compete globally, and to be successful, they need to embed the right sustainability practices at the very core

As companies face increased expectation to deliver on commitments to meet the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the SDG2000 identifies the 2,000 companies with the most impact across seven key transformation areas: Food Systems, Decarbonisation & Energy, Circular, Digital, Financial, Urban and Social.

With the companies now identified, WBA will rank those listed on their performance and impact on the SDGs – ensuring the results and findings are freely and publicly available to all.

Through this transparency it’s hoped the rankings will hold businesses to account by highlighting peer to peer performance.

It’s also hoped this will inspire leaders to make the “changes necessary for real impact and act as an accountability mechanism for those who are falling behind”.

“Companies must compete globally, and to be successful, they need to embed the right sustainability practices at the very core,” said Pauliina Murphy, Director at WBA. “There is no greater urgency than tackling inequality, climate change and biodiversity loss.

“These SDG2000 companies have the potential to drive forward systems change. Our benchmarks hold a mirror to companies on their performance, which encourages a race to the top and hold laggards to account.”

SDG2000 key findings

  • The list has a global footprint with headquarters across 74 countries from Algeria to Vietnam
  • One in four of the companies are headquartered in developing, emerging or frontier markets. The most influential companies by number of headquarters are based in the US, EU, China, Japan
  • The list spans industries from apparel, asset managers and agricultural products to telecoms, utilities and waste management by direct impact and through supply chains
  • A number of companies are so diversified that they feature across four of the seven transformations. They include Glencore, Tata Group Mitsubishi and China Resources Holdings
  • Circular (the circular economy) is currently the largest transformation with 750 companies

The range of industries within the SDG2000 shows that no one single group can be held up as the one to change, a pan-sectoral effort is needed.

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