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Using the UN Sustainable Development Goals in social accounting

On 7th October, SAN colleagues from around the world met to discuss how the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) might be useful for social accounting.

Marie Banu from SAN India showed us how they are using the SDGs as part of checking the relevance and importance of outcomes from the work of social economy organisations. The SDGs set the context and provide a framework to work to for social accounting and social audit. It was clear from the discussion that corporate businesses have really embraced the SDGs and are using them in their reporting – but perhaps the UK social economy is lagging behind?

Reasons why the SDGs are important included:

1) Communication of local impact in a global language. While there are multiple impact frameworks, standards, and tools, most organizations still struggle to measure, manage, and communicate the impact. The SDGs offer a shared impact framework and language which makes it more accessible worldwide, and easier to compare results across the globe.

2) Increasing interest in transparency when accepting jobs, buying products, and making investments. Corporate impact is much more important to this generation than previous generations. People are asking hard questions beyond surface-level statistics and reporting. How are you creating an impact? Who are stakeholders and beneficiaries? Aligning with the SDGs in an authentic way shows that a company understands the context of its desired impact and its role in the larger global effort for its specific impact area.

3) Social impact has become a centrepiece in business strategy. Business needs permission (positive engagement) from people to do well. One of the biggest challenges facing private equity, corporate, impact investors, and other asset owners is how to build a portfolio that defines and generates true impact.

VERRA, part of the SAN Community in the USA, has published a helpful template for SDG reporting -

The full event can be viewed at the SAN You Tube channel at

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