(с) GMK Center

The European Business Association presented the 2021 Sustainable Development Index

Ukrainian companies estimate the current progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) domestically at 3.17 points out of the maximum 5. Interestingly, business’s contribution to achieving SDG is estimated at 3.58 points. Incorporation of sustainable development issues in Ukraine’s policies is estimated at 2.75 points.

These data were presented in the 2021 Sustainable Development Index prepared by the European Business Association (EBA) in cooperation with Naftogaz of Ukraine National Joint Stock Company and Kyiv National University of Trade and Economics.

“In 2015, 17 goals and 169 specific targets in the area of sustainable development were adopted globally to improve living conditions, protect human rights, reduce the environmental impacts etc. Ukraine has stepped into the process and now has to report on the actions taken to achieve those goals. However, those reports do not always reflect the contribution of Ukrainian businesses. In September–October, the Association conducted its first survey of how business estimates the level of incorporation of sustainable development goals in their own corporate policies and the government strategic plans,” said Svitlana Mykhailovska, Deputy Director for Representing EBA Corporate Members while presenting the findings of the survey on the Sustainable Development Day initiated by the EBA Committee of Industrial Ecology and Sustainable Development.

The survey showed that almost all companies pursue SDG in their activities. More than half of businesses reflect their sustainable development actions in their non-financial reports. At the same time, the six most important goals for Ukrainian businesses are the following (priority-ranked):

  • Sustainable consumption and production
  • Quality education
  • Protection and restoration of terrestrial ecosystems
  • Affordable and clean energy
  • Reduced inequalities
  • Industry, innovation and infrastructure

At the same time, the Ministry of Economy believes achievement of the goals of Reduced inequalities, Industry, innovation and infrastructure, Protection and restoration of terrestrial ecosystems to be almost impossible.

The surveyed companies believe the environmental issued to be the least incorporated in government policies. This means that the contribution of business in promoting those goals will have a central role in achieving thereof at the national level.

The most popular sustainable development projects were found to be the following:

  • separate waste collection and safe waste disposal
  • cooperation with universities and development of dual education
  • planting trees
  • energy efficiency programs
  • social and professional integration of people with disabilities etc.

Almost all companies fund sustainable development projects. Thus, 27% of businesses invest ₴1–10 million and 21% ₴10–100 million in sustainable development each year. Most of such investors are companies of the fuel and energy sector, IT and telecommunication. Half of the respondents say they are going to ramp up investments in sustainable development.

Moreover, the larger annual investments are, the more non-financial reports companies have to prepare, thus strengthening their business reputation and getting access to foreign funding.

The findings of the survey show that the major difficulties in achieving SDG are regulatory barriers, insufficient funding, low expertise and low awareness, as well as lack of a special agency in the field.

Most respondents agree that both business and the government need incentives for achieving SDG, and those are often interrelated. It is also important to provide consultancy to companies on incorporation of SDG in their business activities.

In the opinion of the surveyed, a central body is needed to coordinate SDG efforts — from data monitoring to public reporting on the progress and presenting proposals to the Cabinet of Ministers and the Parliament to adjust the current policies where necessary.

The survey showed that companies can contribute to achieving those SDG that are hard to achieve at the government level. Therefore, is it more than rational to start an open dialogue with business to discuss sustainable development priorities and creating favorable conditions for companies to be able and willing to increase SDG funding. In particular, the regulatory framework needs some amendments.

As GMK Center reported earlier, the EBA is holding the Sustainable Development Day today in Kyiv. Top managers of the largest taxpayers in Ukrainian industry together with representatives of the European Union, members of parliament, representatives of line ministries and international experts from the UN and the UN Global Compact are discussing the progress in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Ukraine.