Papers: Mapping the SDGs, Corporate Tax, and Business Accountability

The following research on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)  contributed to our January 2017 flagship report, Better Business, Better World. Summaries and downloads of commissioned papers by partners are available below.

SDGs & Sectors: A Review of the Business Opportunities

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a comprehensive vision for a sustainable and equitable society. They also provide clear touch points for businesses, sectors, and value chains. SDGs & Sectors: A review of the business opportunities maps the Goals that most strongly impact industrial sectors, while identifying those that have cross-cutting or enabling relevance. The analysis uses a four-part business opportunity lens covering innovation and market development, efficiency and cost savings, reputation management, and risk reduction through the following industrial sectors:

  • Growth nexus: Consumer goods, consumer services and healthcare are most strongly correlated with the delivery of specific SDGs and these have the most powerful growth-related drivers, principally related to innovation and efficiencies.
  • Risk nexus: Oil & gas, basic materials, Industrials and in some cases Utilities are also strongly correlated with delivery of specific SDGs but the risk are stronger than the positive growth drivers.
  • Enablers: The third grouping of sectors – including financials, technology, and telecommunications – have relevance across almost all SDGs. Their business drivers are balanced towards the opportunity for growth and innovation.

Aligning Corporate Tax Policy with the Sustainable Development Goals

There is increasing agreement that the interplay between business practice and taxation is of crucial importance to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The paper Aligning corporate tax policy with the Sustainable Development Goals traverses a broad cross-section of tax policy. The analysis and examples of reform described in Aligning corporate tax policy with the Sustainable Development Goals demonstrate that existing tax systems could be much better aligned with the SDGs.

There are viable options for reform and many of them are win-win. Four examples in the paper stand out:

  • Shifting the burden of taxation onto environmental bads
  • Simplifying investment incentives in developing countries
  • Introducing greater transparency over ownership of shell companies and corporate tax payments
  • Placing greater emphasis on property taxes

In all of these areas, there are clear opportunities for businesses that engage in the policy debate. Social attitudes to tax are shifting, and tax systems have yet to catch up. If systems do so, the opportunity for tax reform could be harnessed to help achieve the ambitions of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Go Fast, Go First, Go Further: Leading Business Accountability in a New Era

As expectations of businesses evolve in the new era of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), businesses need to be accountable to maximise positive development outcomes. They need to fully understand, take responsibility for, and learn from the range of their impacts. In this brief paper commissioned by the Business Commission Go Fast, Go First, Go Further: Leading Business Accountability in a New Era, Save the Children offers an answer.

A shift towards more accountable business behaviour would have a dramatic effect on world’s ability to achieve the SDGs. In particular, the existing business accountability landscape can be significantly more robust with respect to four critical areas:

  1. Environmental and human rights impact: When businesses effectively engage with affected communities, they reduce risks to themselves and increase opportunities for development.
  2. Labour rights and standards: For jobs aligned with the SDGs to be transformational, they must be decent, include means for participation, and support social protection for families.
  3. Paying tax: Increasing tax bases fairly is key to governments being able to provide better health care, education and social protection.
  4. Lobbying: While lobbying can be a valuable part of the policy-making process, it can also have a distorting effect from undue influence and unfair competition, and regulatory capture that can be mitigated.

In each of these four areas, the paper presents specific recommendations to move fast, first and further on business accountability.