Aparna Trichur, Communications Lead – Alliance, World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA)
What is your background in Social Impact/Sustainability if any?
I have a Master’s degree in International Relations, and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science – both of which had strong elements of social impact/sustainability as a part of my core studies. Professionally, my previous role at a foreign mission, the Dutch Consulate in Mumbai, where I led Public Affairs, was around the India-Netherlands bilateral relationship, and several facets of my work were directly connected to bringing in the value of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This focus on the SDGs has continued and extended to my present role at the World Benchmarking Alliance.
What do you do at your organization in terms of Social Impact/Sustainability, how do you monitor the outcomes and what are the goals?
The World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) was launched in 2018 from the belief that the private sector can strongly contribute to, as well as benefit from, the global ambition of the SDGs and that corporate performance benchmarks are powerful levers for change.
As a result, WBA identified seven systems transformations that we believe are vital to put our society, planet, and economy on a more sustainable and resilient path to accomplish the 2030 Agenda.
Knowing the potential that the private sector holds to drive the desired waves of change, WBA’s core work revolves around building a movement to inspire corporate accountability on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We accomplish this by producing benchmarks to assess the performance of the world’s most influential companies and their contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To support this, we launched the SDG2000 list (https://www.worldbenchmarkingalliance.org/sdg2000/) which identifies the 2,000 most influential companies globally that have the power to pivot our planet, people, and economy to a sustainable path. These 2,000 companies will be benchmarked over the course of the next few years across the 7 transformation areas we have identified.
“We seek to strengthen the Alliance with currently under-represented stakeholder groups.”
Do you believe in business as a force for good and do you have corporate partners? How do you work with them?
WBA’s very core work revolves around the fact that we think business has the real power to be a force for good. Our benchmarks, which are freely and publicly available to everyone, are meant to empower all involved stakeholders to take concrete action on the SDGs. That means that investors can influence the companies they invest in. Governments can develop better policies and civil society can direct public support and partnership efforts. Individuals can decide where to spend their money and where they choose to work. These benchmarks will reveal both to companies and stakeholders where each company stands compared to its peers, where it can improve, and where urgent action is needed to deliver on the SDGs. Ranking and measuring the companies will give them the guidance to drive change and create accountability for those who don’t change.
Right from the beginning, we knew that creating partnerships in the spirit of SDG17 was critical to our work. From this realization rose the idea for the WBA ‘Alliance’.
It is a collaborative community of over 200 organizations globally working to develop an accountability mechanism for business action on the SDGs. The Alliance helps us to ensure that benchmarks are used by companies, investors, policy-makers, and civil society and transform our work to create meaningful centres of impact. See here who our Allies are: https://www.worldbenchmarkingalliance.org/wba-allies/
How do new technologies and this digital age influence your work? Do you use new technologies to spread the word about what you do?
In line with the developments in technology and the digital age, we use our social media channels and website as mediums of communication to reach, engage, and interact with our global audience.
“Our multi-stakeholder Alliance is a community of change-makers, made up of organizations from around the world working towards Agenda2030 in their own, unique ways.”
Do you see a change in behavior in your stakeholders?
Tracking behavioural change is not easy to do, and of course, also a long-term exercise. We see this as a continuous process. Ultimately, WBA’s aim is to create a movement, one that involves all our partners and stakeholders to work collectively towards a sustainable future that works for everyone. We envision a society that values the success of business by what it contributes to the world.
In your view, what’s the biggest challenge when it comes to marketing your cause to the world?
In my personal view, the most pressing thing for all stakeholders currently is to figure out how they can take action now and urgently, to put the world on a sustainable path. How can we do this, in a way that leaves no one behind? All involved stakeholders have competing priorities, but it has become immensely clear, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic that the time to act is ‘now’; and this is our chance to build a conduit to a transition towards a sustainable planet and economy.
Add your call to action.
My core work revolves around the Alliance, and hence my personal call to action here is to our Allies or potential Allies: from 66 organizations when the Alliance was formalized in 2018, this global and inclusive community currently stands at 200+ organizations, with new members joining every single day. We have organizations from around the world, representing diverse voices and stakeholder groups. In the upcoming years, however, we want to continue to make the Alliance as inclusive as possible. We believe in the strength of the Alliance coming from including not only those with influence over business but also those impacted by business.
This means we seek to strengthen the Alliance with currently under-represented stakeholder groups.
This means we seek to strengthen the Alliance with currently under-represented stakeholder groups (financial institutions and business/industry platforms) and regions (Africa, Latin America, and Central and Southeast Asia). We would welcome any suggestions our Allies or partners may have on organizations that could bring these voices to the table. Find out more and contact us by clicking here - https://www.worldbenchmarkingalliance.org/the-alliance/