SDG Impact Standards

The SDG Impact Standards provide a framework to guide organisations, businesses and investors on how to embed sustainability and the SDGs into their management systems and decision-making practices.

The SDG Impact Standards build on and complement existing work undertaken by others on impact management and measurement.

The foundational elements of the Standards are contributing positively to sustainable development and achieving the SDGs. These:

  • cannot be achieved without demonstrating respect for human rights, planetary boundaries and other responsible business practices,
  • and is realised through effective impact management and decision-making.

Standard 1 (Strategy): Embedding foundational elements into purpose and strategy

Standard 2 (Management Approach): Integrating foundational elements into operations and management approach

Standard 3 (Transparency): Disclosing how foundational elements are integrated into purpose, strategy, management approach and governance, and reporting on performance

Standard 4 (Governance): Reinforcing commitment to foundational elements through governance practices

SDG Impact Standards - Enterprises

The Standards set out a framework to help enterprises integrate impact management into their strategies, management approaches, disclosure, governance and decision-making practices. The Standards help enterprises to link their approach to creating long-term and sustainable value for themselves with making a positive contribution to sustainable development by committing to the SDGs. They do so by focusing on the enterprises’ material positive and negative impacts and directing their attention and resources to where they can optimise their contribution. Embedding the standards in management decision-making processes strengthens impact performance and improves the quality and consistency of public disclosures.

The Standards are provided as a “best practice” guide to help organisations operate more sustainably and optimise their contribution to sustainable development and the SDGs by integrating responsible business and impact management practices into their organisational systems and internal decision-making processes.

These standards are for all enterprises, regardless of size, location or sector, that are committed to making a positive contribution to sustainable development and SDG achievement.

SDG Impact Standards - Private Equity Funds

The SDG Impact Standards for Private Equity Fund are for private equity, debt and venture capital fund managers who want to make a positive contribution to sustainable development and achieve the SDGs through one or more of their funds.

The SDG Impact Standards for Private Equity are provided to private funds as a guide for management best-practice and self-assessment. Funds can use them to:

  • align their internal processes, practices and to sustainable management decision making
  • carry out gap analysis in sustainable management decision making.

The SDG Impact Self-Assessment Tool for Private Equity Funds can be used to identify those gaps which can be used over time for continuous improvement.

SDG Impact Standards - Bond Issuers

The SDG Impact Standards for Bond Issuers are for all bond issuers regardless of size, geography or sector, who want to contribute positively to sustainable development and the SDGs.

The SDG Impact Standards for Bond Issuers set out an internal decision-making framework to help this group develop and implement an impact strategy to contribute positively to sustainable development in line with the SDGs.

It enables bond issuers to link their impact strategy to the SDG Bond Program and their organization-wide strategy. Within the scope of the defined impact strategy, this set of Standards help Bond Issuers direct attention and resources to where they can optimize their SDG contribution by focusing on all material positive and negative impacts on people and planet. Embedding the SDG Impact Standards into management decision-making will strengthen impact performance and facilitate higher quality and more consistent disclosures.

OECD-UNDP Impact Standards for Financing Sustainable Development

A growing number of investors and companies aim at coupling financial returns in developing countries with positive social, economic and environmental impacts. However, the way they measure these impacts can be at odds with actual management practices, and important aspects such as transparency, human rights protection and consultation with local stakeholders are not systematically taken into account.

To help address these gaps, these standards provide a framework for donors, development finance organisations and private sector partners to make financial decisions and manage projects in ways that have a positive impact on sustainable development and increase the transparency of development results.

The Standards, approved by the OECD Development Assistance Committee in March 2021, are a best practice guide and self-assessment tool.

Other Resources

Impact Measurement and Management for the SDGs Training

Based on the SDG Impact Standards, the IMM for the SDGs Training highlights how you can incorporate sustainability and social impact factors into managerial decisions using impact measurement and management practices, thereby optimising your organisation’s impact with available resources. 

The training, prepared in collaboration with UNDP SDG Impact and CASE teams at Duke University, is available for free on Coursera.

SDG Impact Standards Glossary

A glossary of terms from these resources, created to support the SDG Impact Standards for Enterprises, Private Equity Funds and Bond Issuers, is available here. 


For more information about SDG Impact Standards, visit the SDG Impact website.