SDGs, Sustainability, Sustainable Development Goals

SDG 6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 06
SWR supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) define global sustainable development priorities and aspirations for 2030 and seek to mobilize global efforts around a common set of goals and targets. The SDGs call for worldwide action among governments, business and civil society to end poverty and create a life of dignity and opportunity for all, within the boundaries of the planet.”

Here is SDG 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

  • By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
  • By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations
  • By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally
  • By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
  • By 2030, implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate
  • By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes
  • By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies
  • Support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management

I have identified two companies that have included SDG 6 in their sustainability reports and how they are addressing it.

Ball Corporation

In its 2016 Sustainability Report, Ball Corporation explains how it is supporting SDG 6 in its operations through its water reclamation process. Because it wanted to reduce water usage in its extrusion process that produces aluminum containers, Ball devised a way to maximize water reclamation.

“Because the impact extrusion process requires significant amounts of water, our engineering teams brainstormed ideas to install a full treatment system to reclaim as much water as possible. The plant partnered with a local company to design an onsite system to recycle the water, eliminating discharge costs and highlighting our commitment to water stewardship in the local community. The collaboration of third-party expertise with our water reclamation experience was successful.”

“Though the plant only began producing cans in the second half of 2015, the project already has achieved significant results, reclaiming 95 percent of the plant’s water with only 5 percent lost through evaporation, during reverse osmosis, and in the filter cake. Like many best practices within our operations, this successful new process has been shared with other Ball engineers.”


Water is the heart of SAB Miller’s products. In its Sustainable Development Report 2016, the company explains its impacts on water in the greater context of the world’s sustainability issues.

“Water scarcity is one of the most significant impacts of climate change and already affects more than 40% of the global population. This is a serious issue that has major implications for a global brewer: put simply, no water, no beer. At the same time, water scarcity is holding back economic and social development for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Tackling this successfully will release untapped prosperity for everyone – from the smallest farmers to global manufacturing businesses and entire national economies. Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to ensure access to water and sanitation for all by 2030. Within this sit targets for reducing water use, improving water quality, and managing water resources in an integrated way that involves local communities, business and civil society.”

SAB Miller set its water reduction targets and reported on them.

“Less is more

The less water we use to run and clean our breweries, the less energy we use for heating, cooling and treating water, and the smaller our impact on local communities. In the prior year, we beat our target to reduce brewery water use by 25% against a 2008 base, achieving an efficiency ratio of 3.3 hectolitres of water per hectolitre of lager produced. We are now on track to meet our revised target of 3.0 hl/hl by 2020, having achieved an average efficiency ratio of 3.2 hl/hl in the year. At 25 of our breweries, average annual water efficiency is already below 3.0 hl/hl. In absolute terms, we used 597 million hl of water to produce our lager (2015: 592 million hl).”

My next post will cover SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy.


SDGs, Sustainability, Sustainable Development Goals

SDG 5 – Gender Equality

United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 05
SWR supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) define global sustainable development priorities and aspirations for 2030 and seek to mobilize global efforts around a common set of goals and targets. The SDGs call for worldwide action among governments, business and civil society to end poverty and create a life of dignity and opportunity for all, within the boundaries of the planet.”

Here is SDG Goal 5 – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

  • End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere
  • Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation
  • Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation
  • Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate
  • Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life
  • Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences
  • Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws
  • Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women
  • Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels

Examples of companies working to achieve gender equality goals include Sodexo, ANZ Bank, and CLP Holdings. 

Sodexo is a French food services and facilities management company with 420,000 employees over 80 countries. In its Fiscal 2016 Corporate Responsibility Report, Sodexo states that

“…the company is fully committed to contributing to the achievement of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations in September 2015.”

Gender equality is listed as one of its top priorities for which it has received external recognition for its female representation in its governing bodies.

Australian and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) is a major bank in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia Pacific region. In its Corporate Sustainability Report 2016, ANZ set goals for achieving gender equality in its operations from new hires, to board representation, and the supply chain.

ANZ supply chain initiatives

CLP Holdings Limited is a publicly traded company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that provides electricity. This includes power generation, high voltage transmission, local distribution, and gas and electricity retail services in China, India, Australia, Southeast Asia, and Taiwan. In its 2016 Sustainability Report, CLP acknowledges the importance of gender diversity from both a social and economic perspective.

“The most significant and common issue we face as a Group, is gender diversity. Demographic trends confirm the business case for this; and as gender equality is embedded in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights and in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the social and economic case for making it a priority is equally strong.

The company also explains the challenges that it is encountering to create gender equality in its operations.

“However, we face some challenges in increasing the proportion of female employees, from the current figure of 23.6%. The nature of our business requires a high percentage of the workforce to have technical and engineering skills. However, there are supply constraints due to the global shortage of females studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at school and university. We also face cultural constraints in places like India, which has a relatively low female workforce participation rate. “

CLP discusses its approach to improve its gender equality.

“Given this context, we have decided to focus our efforts on three priorities to improve our gender diversity. These priorities have been chosen because they reflect our business needs, align with the UN SDGs, and support the social and economic empowerment of women. First, we aim to increase the number of women in leadership positions in CLP. Second, we strive to increase the number of female engineers we employ by supporting initiatives that encourage girls to study engineering in schools and attracting female graduates to join the company. The third priority is to ensure gender pay equity. A range of initiatives were undertaken in 2016.”

The next blog will highlight organizations contributing to achieving SDG 6 – Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.


SDGs, Sustainability, Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 03
SWR LLC supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

This post is the third in a series about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and how businesses are contributing to meeting these goals.

“The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) define global sustainable development priorities and aspirations for 2030 and seek to mobilize global efforts around a common set of goals and targets. The SDGs call for worldwide action among governments, business and civil society to end poverty and create a life of dignity and opportunity for all, within the boundaries of the planet.”

Here is SDG Goal 3 – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

3.1 By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births

3.2 By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births

3.3 By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases

3.4 By 2030, reduce by one-third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being

3.5 Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol

3.6 By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents

3.7 By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes

3.8 Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all

3.9 By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination

3.a Strengthen the implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in all countries, as appropriate

3.b Support the research and development of vaccines and medicines for the communicable and non-communicable diseases that primarily affect developing countries, provide access to affordable essential medicines and vaccines, in accordance with the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, which affirms the right of developing countries to use to the full the provisions in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights regarding flexibilities to protect public health, and, in particular, provide access to medicines for all

3.c Substantially increase health financing and the recruitment, development, training and retention of the health workforce in developing countries, especially in least developed countries and small island developing States

3.d Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks

Companies contributing to the achievement of Goal 3 include SABMiller and Abbott.

In SABMiller’s sustainability report 2016 the company acknowledges its significant concern for the harmful use of alcohol and its commitment to work on the problem.

“Harmful drinking is an issue of signicant concern – to governments, society, and SABMiller. It is an issue that we are committed to helping tackle. “

Developing a non-alcoholic beer, Bireli, in the Czech Republic is one way that SABMiller is addressing SDG Goal 3. This beer has proven to be quite popular.

Abbott, a diversified healthcare company, produces nutrition products, medical devices, diagnostic devices, and pharmaceuticals. The company reports in its Global Citizenship Report 2015 on how its work with partners to develop nutrition and maternal health guidelines along with providing education and training healthcare practitioners in support of the SDGs.

Nutrition and Maternal Health Guidelines

“Working with the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Abbott supported the development of new nutrition guidelines to improve maternal health, protect mothers and babies and reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases globally. The guidelines address adolescent, pre-conception and maternal nutrition. By improving nutrition in adolescent girls and helping them develop healthy dietary habits, the guidelines can reduce the incidence of nutrient deficiencies, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease for both mom and baby later in life. The guidelines support a number of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including reducing premature mortality and ending all forms of malnutrition by 2030. “

Educating and Supporting Healthcare Practitioners

“Training and educating local healthcare providers have a key role to play in addressing gaps in healthcare services. We work directly with local governments, providing a wide range of training, conferences and educational programs. We also advance understanding of new and emerging treatments by collecting and sharing the data from patients’ use of our products.

Abbott launched the WINGS (Women in India with Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Strategy) project to define a model of care approach for women with GDM to establish guidelines for GDM management in developing countries. We implemented the pilot program in partnership with the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (the president and director, V. Mohan, MD, is a world-renowned diabetologist working throughout India) and diabetes expert Sonak Pastakia, PharmD, MPH, BCPS, and with financial support from the Abbott Fund. The program was deployed across seven clinics and trained 60 healthcare workers in the new guidelines. Since the roll-out of the WINGS program, we have helped 250 women with GDM to manage their condition, supporting more than 177 healthy deliveries of babies. We have also developed a training manual for healthcare workers and an educational handbook for mothers that can be used across India and in other emerging markets. “

The next blog will highlight organizations contributing to achieving SDG 4 – Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. Stay tuned!




Assurance Readiness Review, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Risk Management, Sustainability Reporting

New Book Available Now!

Sustainability Reporting: Getting Started, 2015 (2nd edition). Gwendolen B. White
Sustainability Reporting: Getting Started, 2015 (2nd edition). Gwendolen B. White

My new book is now available at Business Expert Press! This latest edition presents the rationale for reporting along with a discussion of the major sustainability reporting frameworks such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, the Integrated Reporting Framework, and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board Standards. You will find detailed examples of the GRI G4 Guidelines from actual company reports such as UPS, Nestle, and Weyerhaeuser, to name a few. These examples show how major companies have applied the GRI guidelines. This book can help get your organization started on its reporting journey.


Assurance Readiness Review, Sustainability Reporting

VW and Assurance

Better Assurance = Fewer Injuries Photo: Michael J White
Better Assurance = Fewer Injuries
Photo: Michael J White

VW cheated and harmed us all. Some of us are more harmed than others. If you own stock, you have seen your net worth decline. If you own one of the affected cars, your troubles are just beginning. If you work for VW, your job may be jeopardy. If you live on the planet, your air is  more polluted.

VW’s story is one of fraud, but why is it so troubling? All frauds are troubling, but VW’s lies seem particularly egregious. VW cast itself as a sustainable company. In their 2014 sustainability report, the company declared the following:

“For the Volkswagen Group, sustainability means that we conduct our business activities on a responsible and long-term basis and do not seek short-term success at the expense of others.”

In the report, they also listed the environmental performance of their specific car models. Many people believed them. In 2014, CDP put VW in its Climate Performance Leadership Index  and in 2015, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) listed VW as the most sustainable automaker. (It has since been delisted by the DJSI.)

Could the fraud have been prevented or detected earlier? Perhaps. I contend that assurance of sustainability reports could make a difference. In audits of financial statements, the auditor’s opinion states whether reasonable assurance has been obtained that the financial statements as a whole are free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error. Following professional auditing standards, auditors obtain this reasonable assurance from substantial testing of data systems and underlying information.

Audits do not provide absolute assurance; nothing can. Frauds will occur and have always occurred. Detecting fraud is difficult when multiple people collude to hide it. We can make it harder for them to do.

Was VW’s sustainability report assured? Yes, but it was a “review” or  “limited” assurance. What does limited assurance mean? The procedures were limited to inquiring of key personnel, understanding the company structure, documenting systems, visiting sites, performing data comparisons, and examining internal and external documents. Limited assurance is just that, limited.

If we are going to depend on the information in sustainability reports, we need more than limited assurance. We need “reasonable assurance.” This can be done using procedures similar to that of an audit of financial statements. Will this cost money? Sure, but the fallout from fraud is much more costly for all of us: company, employees, customers, suppliers, and the environment.