Approach & Reporting Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goals

2015 marked the conclusion of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which are succeeded by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are universal and address the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in a comprehensive and integrated manner.  

The SDGs are the core element of the ambitious and transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – the first global development agenda to be fully negotiated by UN member states. The Agenda’s goals include the eradication of extreme poverty, gender equality, and sustainable economic growth, amongst other topics. The target date for the realization of these goals is 2030.

Credit Suisse and the SDGs

As the SDGs are based on a participatory process, responsibility for achieving them will be shared between states, the private sector, the scientific community and civil society. As a global bank, identifying and responding to client demand and working with clients and partner organizations, Credit Suisse can contribute to a wide range of SDGs in a variety of ways. In 2015, we published a report entitled “Aiming for Impact: Credit Suisse and the Sustainable Development Goals” to illustrate how the SDGs provide tangible opportunities for companies to pursue business objectives while also contributing to sustainable development. To gain an even deeper understanding of how we, as a bank, can contribute to the implementation of the SDGs, we also discussed the topic at workshops with stakeholder groups. The workshops pursued the objectives of raising awareness of the SDGs, of discussing the role and responsibility of the banking sector, and of identifying priorities for action as well as opportunities to organize and build partnerships to attain the SDGs. A key finding expressed by most participants was that banks are expected to embed the consideration of environmental and social matters into core financial products and services and to put greater emphasis on the development of innovative investment solutions.

Credit Suisse has taken a number of measure to tackle these new challenges and developments. For example, by enabling economic activity –  especially at the base of the pyramid –, our microfinance platform has the potential to address SDGs 1 (eliminating poverty), 2 (food security), 4 (education), 5 (gender equality), 8 (sustainable economic growth and employment), 12 (sustainable consumption and production) and 17 (global partnership).

Operating in a fast-changing knowledge-based industry, we need to ensure that our employees continuously develop their skills and expertise to support our clients. In making use of the diversity of our workforce and our employees’ knowledge and experience, we also address SDGs 4 (education), 5 (gender equality) and 8 (sustainable economic growth and employment).

By applying our expertise to capital market transactions and investment solutions to develop renewable energy technologies, we contribute to SDG 7 (sustainable energy), and by increasing energy efficiency in our operational premises and our real estate investment portfolio, we address SDGs 9 (resilient infrastructure) and 11 (sustainable cities), acting in line with SDG 13 (combating climate change).

Through environmental standards that we apply in our client-facing business as well as when procuring products and services from third parties, we support SDG 12 (sustainable consumption and production). Finally, by committing to protect biodiversity in our policies and guidelines, which we apply in our risk review process, and by offering our clients opportunities to invest in the conservation of terrestrial or marine ecosystems, we address SDGs 14 (marine resources) and 15 (terrestrial ecosystems).

Credit Suisse Case Studies

With the following case studies, we want to illustrate how our activities contribute to the realization of a number of specific SDGs and describe the measurable impact we aim to achieve. Further information on our contributions to specific SDGs is available on page 43 of the Corporate Responsibility Report 2015.

From the MDGs to the SDGs

The SDGs were preceded by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a framework adopted in 2000 for reducing poverty in its manifold dimensions, while addressing gender equality, education, health, and environmental sustainability. This was the first time that the international community had set global development goals along with a series of time-bound targets, and a target date for implementation of end-2015.

Despite the successes of the MDGs as a robust framework for development activities, a number of limitations were identified during their implementation, including:

  • weak integration of social, economic and environmental aspects, or a lack of balance between these factors
  • variable data availability and reliability, leading to variable interpretation of progress made
  • over-emphasis of quantitative targets and lack of focus on qualitative results
  • lack of accountability, partly because the MDGs were not formulated to take local circumstances into consideration in the developing nations at which they were targeted.

In light of the experience with the MDGs, and by incorporating additional dimensions of sustainability, the SDGs now aspire to address these issues and be applicable not only to developing nations but to all countries universally, while acknowledging national differences and leaving room for approaches tailored to specific countries.

17 Goals, 169 Targets

After three years of preparations, which also involved private sector organizations, the scientific community and civil society, the UN member states concluded their negotiations in August 2015 with an agreement on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The final framework includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 supporting targets. The majority of the targets are action-oriented, but a small number of them are a means of implementation.