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November 29, 2022

Only 34% of Spanish companies align their business strategy with Agenda 2030 SDG compliance

  • Spanish companies are starting to roll out their SDG alignment and sustainability strategies although these are still early days for most of them, particularly SMEs.
  • According to the barometer, the companies that have started working towards Agenda 2030 compliance are driven by cost savings and the impact on their reputation
  • Read the full report (link to PDF)

2022 SDG Barometer: compliance of Spanish companies with SDGs

Tuesday, 29 November 2022. The business strategy of just one third of Spanish companies – 34% to be precise – aims to comply with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the United Nations 2030 Agenda, according to the 'SDG 2022 Barometer' produced by Esade in conjunction with SEIDOR and United VARs. This survey, based on 300 interviews with the managers and heads of sustainability and corporate social responsibility in companies in more than 10 different industries, analyzes the integration and implementation of SDGs in Spanish companies. Furthermore, according to respondents, almost half of the companies (49%) have not incorporated SDGs into their strategy and do not plan to do so. In this respect, the difference sizes of the companies are a determining factor because whereas 3 out of 4 companies with fewer than 50 employees have not integrated SDGs and do not intend to do so, this figure is only 9% among large corporations.

Iván González, corporate head of marketing, communication and sustainability at SEIDOR, pointed out that “increasing numbers of Spanish companies have SDG policies but there is still room for new measures, and this one of the biggest challenges facing the entire business fabric.” Carles Agustí, an expert in international governance and SDGs and co-author of the barometer, emphasized “that the adoption and implementation of SDGs in companies are an investment in innovation and in adaptation to change and the new social and business world. The business sector must take action to contribute to the 2030 Agenda so it’s essential for companies align with SDGs correctly and work towards achieving them”.

Monitoring compliance and contribution certification

As regards companies’ monitoring of their own SDG compliance, only 30% of companies say they have analyzed the extent to which their sustainability strategy has been implemented. When this variable is studied in terms of company size, it can be seen that 89% of the companies with fewer than 50 employees have not analyzed their sustainability strategy in any way. However, the survey reveals that 2 out of every 3 companies with more than 250 employees have conducted an in-house analysis of SDG compliance.

On the other hand, a mere 10% of the Spanish firms surveyed have been certified by an independent entity as having a sustainability strategy that contributes to SDGs. In this respect, despite the existence of certification, the survey highlighted that in 1 out of every 4 companies aligned with SDGs, their contribution is not officially certified.

Limited knowledge of Agenda 2030 and SDGs

The findings reveal that sustainability is a concept associated, firstly, with the idea of “respecting the environment” and, secondly, with the efficient consumption of resources. Specifically, slightly more than half of Spanish companies associate sustainability exclusively with “caring for and respecting the environment.”

This conclusion is related to the varying degree of awareness of the 2030 Agenda reflected in the barometer, which a large proportion of the Spanish business sector is unaware of. Specifically, 44% of the companies consulted have heard of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs. When this variable is analyzed on the basis of company size, the vast majority (80%) of large companies are aware of the 2030 Agenda, a figure that is lower (some 25%) amongst SMEs.

Company size also affects the existence of a sustainability department. Whereas virtually no SMEs have a sustainability department, more than 60% of big companies have a well-established one.

Cost savings and reputation: factors that drive SDGs

According to the barometer, the two main reasons why companies started working on aligning themselves with the 2030 Agenda are cost savings and reputation. Thus, 54% of companies said they had introduced these sustainability policies to reduce costs because of the correlation between more efficient production processes and the lower energy costs. The second factor valued most highly for the promotion of sustainability policies in companies is the benefit for their brands and reputation, accounting for 53% of companies.

SDGs 7 and 12: the most valued

The report showcases that 55% of the companies surveyed are working particularly towards compliance with SDG 12 (sustainable consumption and production), and 51% with SDG 7 (increased use of affordable, safe, sustainable and modern energy.

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