The Relationship between Investor Materiality and the Sustainable Development Goals
29 Pages Posted: 2 May 2018 Last revised: 10 May 2018
Date Written: April 15, 2018
The world has great expectations for how the private sector, both companies and investors, can support the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In fact, it is generally believed that these goals cannot be achieved without strong support from the private sector. But will making the world a better place hurt financial returns? The answer is “No” if companies focus on the SDGs and their associated targets that benefit from strong performance on the material environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues that matter to investors. In this paper we map the 30 generic ESG issues identified by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) to the SDGs and their targets. We show that some SASB issues are more material for a given SDG than others. We also show that some SASB issues are more important to the SDGs in general than others. We also map the material ESG issues for each of SASB’s 79 industries to the SDGs and to their targets. For each sector, there are particular SDGs where it has high impact and for each SDG there are particular sectors that have a high impact on it, and some sectors are more important to the SDGs in aggregate than others. The same is true at the target level. This mapping can be used as a guide for both companies and investors who want to understand how value-creating ESG performance can contribute to the SDGs. This paper is divided into four parts. Part I explains the motivation for this study. Part II explains our methodology and Part III the results. Part IV concludes with a summary of our results and some reflections on how our mapping methodology can be improved.
Keywords: Sustainability, Sustainable Development Goals, SDG, Materiality, Financial Performance, Impact, Sustainability Accounting Standard Board, SASB
JEL Classification: M1, M2, M4
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation