IGP Data

Lost in Translation? An Assessment of the SDGs as a Basis for Private Sector Action: A Case Study of Palm Oil

This desk study forms part of the preparatory work for a PhD on investor engagement with companies on corporate responsibility issues, taken as those framed by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs outline ambitions widely accepted as improving the prosperity of populations in both developed and developing countries. Looking at these goals in greater detail however highlights the difficulty in matching the government-designed indicators of success to points of articulation with responsible corporate behaviour. This study looks at one example of an agricultural supply chain – palm oil - to illustrate the challenges involved in engaging a commercial industry with the SDGs using recent academic sources. It concludes that while at the icon level the goals do indicate targets and considerations for new or amended business models, they are too often short on detail with indicators that are descriptive rather than prescriptive. Therefore, private sector engagement will have to be flanked by the development (or reinforcement) of other standard-setting institutions to endorse that these changes are both desirable and credible. This will involve the co-operation of a wide array of stakeholders which will be the subject of further IGP research.

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