Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


companies get UN goals tool

December 2005

A Dutch organization has come up with a way of measuring the progress companies are making towards the United Nations' eight millennium development goals.

The Dutch National Committee for International Cooperation and Sustainable Development (NCDO) has developed a range of indicators to measure progress against the goals, which include global commitments to reduce poverty, improve basic health and increase educational levels.

Organizations receive a score according to their policies, management systems and performance on each indicator.

The tool also includes a weighting system to differentiate the relative priority of each indicator so that, for example, improving slum housing conditions is weighted lower than reducing environmental impact.

The framework is designed to be as applicable to civil society groups as it is to commercial organizations, and has been tested by the Netherland-based bank ABN Amro and non-profit group Novib (Oxfam in the Netherlands).

As a next step, NCDO hopes to assess the efforts of a larger group of companies and development agencies, thereby gauging their relative strengths in contributing towards social and economic development.

In the pilot test, ABN Amro outperformed Novib on only one indicator, environmental sustainability. However, the bank's performance on millennium development goals for poverty and hunger, education, gender equality and global partnership fell only marginally behind.

'Once you have these company comparisons and NGO comparisons, a picture will emerge from which partnerships can be made,' said Thierry Sanders of NCDO's Business in Development programme.

NCDO also hopes the assessment tool, introduced last month, will be used by socially responsible investment funds to benchmark companies.

The eight millennium development goals, which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/Aids, have a target date of 2015, and were agreed by all the world's countries and leading development institutions at the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000.

The NCDO is an Amsterdam-based NGO that works in support of the goals.

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