A new standard for electric utilities to maximize progress towards the SDGs


15 March, 2021




Leading utilities establish global best practice on how their sector and its value chain can advance the ambitions of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 

Geneva, 15 March 2021: The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has today launched an SDG Sector Roadmap for the electric utilities sector.

Over the past 18 months, WBCSD has convened 11 of the world’s leading electric utility companies to explore, articulate and set a course to realizing the unique potential of this sector to leverage its influence and innovation to contribute to the SDG agenda.

The new SDG Roadmap for Electric Utilities provides utility business leaders worldwide with a flagship guide to driving transformative change. It explores the sector’s interaction with the SDGs, identifies nine priority goals, and outlines seven key impact opportunity areas where the sector is well placed to drive transformation in line with the objectives of the SDGs. Each of these impact opportunities is underscored by a series of tangible actions that companies can take to maximize their potential for positive SDG impact across short-, medium- and long-term time horizons.

This roadmap has been developed by electric utilities with multinational operations spanning Asia-Pacific, the Americas, Africa, and Europe. The organizations who have demonstrated their leadership by producing the Roadmap are: ACCIONA, Celsia, CLP, EDF, EDP, Eletrobras, Enel, ENGIE, Iberdrola, Kansai Electric Power and Tata Power.

Why an SDG roadmap for the electric utilities sector?

Businesses globally are increasingly recognizing the key role they have to play in realizing the SDGs, and the immense potential of the SDG agenda to drive innovation, economic growth and development at an unprecedented scale.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted global efforts towards achieving the SDGs, it has also forced us to acknowledge our vulnerabilities, adopt radically different mindsets and invest boldly in fundamental changes for business and societies.

At this critical and challenging juncture, we should place the SDGs at the forefront of our thinking as we plan long-term response and recovery. 

The electric utilities sector has a fundamental role to play in realizing the SDGs; the sector will shape the future of sustainable energy – an essential ingredient in our efforts to combat the climate emergency, realize continued economic growth, and move towards truly inclusive and equitable societies globally.

Against this backdrop, the SDG Sector Roadmap for Electric Utilities sets a new standard for global best practice on how the sector and its value chain can contribute towards achieving this critical global agenda on the road to 2030.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has upended lives across the world and slowed our collective progress towards the SDGs. Tangible and measurable action is needed from our sector to support the economic green recovery of our communities and regain this lost ground. This WBCSD Roadmap provides an ambitious and attainable pathway from which we can collectively drive these efforts towards the 2030 targets.” – Miguel Stilwell d’Andrade CEO, EDP & EDPR

“This Roadmap shows how electrification plays an essential role in contributing to the SDGs. We have been working to drive towards decarbonization for decades, generating progress and employment, while promoting equality, innovation, health and partnerships to achieve the objectives of the 2030 Agenda” – Ignacio S. Galán Chairman and CEO, Iberdrola

“The road-mapping process that WBCSD’s electric utilities sector members have undertaken exemplifies the type of action-focused collaboration that will be instrumental in realizing the broad ambitions of the SDG agenda.” – Peter Bakker, President & CEO, WBCSD

Identifying key impact opportunities for SDG impact

The SDG Sector Roadmap for Electric Utilities identifies the following key opportunities for SDG impact across four main themes of climate and energy, people and communities, nature, and circular economy:

  1. Decarbonize electricity generation in line with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
  2. Enhance electricity system flexibility, resilience and efficiency.
  3. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern electricity services for all.
  4. Attract and retain a diverse and inclusive workforce.
  5. Leave no one behind in the energy transition and respect human rights.
  6. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of ecosystems and drive net biodiversity gains.
  7. Accelerate the transition to a circular electric utility sector.

The articulation of these impact opportunities and associated actions in this report is the first step on the road to continued SDG engagement. Electric utilities representatives from within WBCSD’s membership will now look to evolve this work from ambition to action. This roadmap also presents an invitation to other industry peers as well as public and private sector stakeholders to collaborate around efforts for SDG action.

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