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When it comes to the UN’s sustainable development goals, Apple just thinks different.
The iPhone-manufacturing behemoth ranks among the worst of the world’s richest public companies in recognizing sustainable-development themes in its corporate annual reports, according to a new analysis of 100 top brands. Apple is joined at the bottom of the gilded heap by more than a dozen companies who also ignored sustainable development in their annual reports, including Disney, Walmart, and General Electric.
The SDG Commitment Report 100, to be released today (April 19) at UN headquarters in New York, is the first-ever analysis to use annual reports as the sole metric to assess corporate commitments to the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals. Analysts argue that the corporate annual report, a legally-required document, is a higher—and better—standard to judge a company’s commitment to sustainability than any voluntary corporate responsibility report.
The report included the 50 largest global companies with annual reports for the year 2016 available by March 31, 2017. The other 50 companies assessed were made up of largest companies by revenue on each continent (the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia-Pacific); the world’s largest family-owned companies; and a number of firms on Fortune’s Most Admired Companies list—as long as they too has 2016 annual reports available for review.
Analysts searched the annual reports for the presence of the 17 UN sustainable development goals, or SDGs, which are a set of moonshot targets that all 192 UN member states, including the US, have agreed to reach by 2030. They include ending poverty and hunger, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and promoting gender equity.