Why do SDGs matter for business sustainability?

What are SDGs?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) serve as a road map for building a better, more sustainable future for everybody. The SDGs are the result of nearly ten years of work by 193 participating nations. The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which started in the year 2000 and finished in 2015, are essentially continued by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The MDGs provided assistance to nearly a billion people in escaping extreme poverty and made significant contributions to environmental protection by virtually completely banning the use of ozone-depleting substances worldwide, planting trees to replace lost forests, and increasing the percentage of total land and coastal marine regions worldwide. The ambitious development agenda set forth by the SDGs, which may cost more than $4 trillion annually, builds on the momentum started by the MDGs. There are 17 SDGs and 169 targets in total: 

17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Why do SDGs matter to business?

The SDGs outline the most important problems and difficulties of our era together with the goals for fixing them. To accomplish these targets, businesses must engage with governments, civil society, and other stakeholders. They must also be paired with the assets, creative abilities, and alliances that will ease implementation. Many businesses have been working to address economic, social, and environmental problems with SDGs framework. 

Today, with restricted access to natural resources, unstable international financial markets and local economics, and a talent shortage, businesses are struggling to thrive. With the framework, businesses have a huge chance to mitigate risks, identify and create opportunities as SDGs provide a common language and help the businesses to focus on purpose.

To mitigate risks

With the speed of climate change, businesses are exposed to many unprecedented risks, including financial risks, physical risks, geopolitical changes, and more. In fact, for businesses and society, each SDG indicates a risk area that is already posing problems. SDGs help businesses mitigate the possible risks they might face with the designed targets. 

For example, the supply chain for manufacturing and production will be badly affected by climate change. Businesses need to address SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), SDG 13 (climate action), SDG 14 (life below water), and SDG 15 (life on land). At the same time, businesses in emerging economies will need to confront SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 3 (good health and well-being), SDG 4 (quality education), and SDG 10 (reduced Inequalities) due to geopolitical unpredictability, lack of development, and inequality. Businesses could address these challenges easily with the SDG framework.

Addressing the risks is becoming more significant for organisational sustainability. Stakeholders and investors are more conscious of their decisions. Businesses will be able to maintain their social credibility and reputation by meeting investors’ and stakeholders’ expectations that they will reduce their negative impact on people and the environment.

Identify opportunities for growth

The SDGs seek to shift public and private investment flows away from the problems they represent and toward their solutions. They do this by defining expanding markets for businesses that are capable of bringing about dramatic change and inventive solutions. Besides, SDGs include economic growth in the design directly.

SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) and SDG 10 (reduced inequalities) create competitive advantages for businesses. Businesses will be able to lure new talents, enter into new markets, and reduce operational risks. 

According to the Business & Sustainable Development Commission, creating sustainable business models aligned with the SDGs could help build US$12 trillion of economic opportunities. Taking our Greenhouse Solar Dryer product as an example, we have contributed to the economic opportunities for our clients. Our Greenhouse Solar Dryer boosts the incomes of farmers and small-scale food producers, reducing poverty and allowing the community to focus on providing quality education to their children. Our product is also designed to align with SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy) and SDG 13 (climate action). We have gained enormous social credibility, which has led to pronounced business growth.

Leveraging a shared language and purpose

SDGs are a universal language. With the support of the SDGs, businesses will be able to speak to stakeholders about their performance and impact with better clarity. The framework helps the businesses set up a sustainability strategy so that they can focus on their company’s vision and purpose for sustainability.

Leading companies such as Unilever and Adidas are using SDGs to convey their sustainability commitments. The companies not only use SDGs in their sustainability report but also engage their stakeholders and shareholders with the common language of action planning for their action plan. For instance, Adidas produces its sustainability report based on SDG targets and sets up its sustainability roadmap with SDGs framework. The targets are clear and easy to understand, helping the company focus on actions and implementations to achieve the targets. During the process, the targets aid in bringing together synergistic partners to address the most pressing societal issues facing the globe.

How to integrate SDGs in business?

To use SDGs in your sustainability strategy, you can follow these five simple steps, which are applicable to all types of organisations, including governments, non-profit organisations, and societal organisations.

       1. Understand the SDGs

The first step is to become familiar with and understand the SDGs and the opportunities and responsibilities they pose for your businesses.

       2. Define priorities

The significance of each of the 17 SDGs and the targets for your business are varied. You must identify the SDGs that are relevant to your business in order to maximise your positive impact while minimising your negative impact with your priorities.

       3. Set Goals

Set your goals after defining your priorities. It is important to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) goals to drive the performance across the businesses.

       4. Integrate

The key to achieving the goals you set is integrating sustainability into the core of businesses and embedding targets across functions. Strategic alliances are critical to achieving the objectives.

       5. Report and Communicate

In order to comprehend and satisfy the demands of your stakeholders, you must continually report and communicate on your progress toward the SDGs.

Post-COVID-19 has brought sustainability into the spotlight of economics and industries; there has never been a better opportunity for businesses to adopt sustainable development goals than right now. Nevertheless, we need to think innovatively about the SDGs. The goals are interconnected, and success depends on strategic planning and alliances between the businesses and their stakeholders and shareholders. We uphold our value of innovation and are optimistic about providing sustainable solutions with the SDG framework, integrating it into our ESG and sustainability services and strategies. Contact us now.

 

References 

  1. Our approach. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://report.adidas-group.com/2020/en/group-management-report-our-company/sustainability/our-approach.html
  2. Release: Sustainable business can unlock at least US$12 trillion in new market value, and Repair Economic System. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://businesscommission.org/news/release-sustainable-business-can-unlock-at-least-us-12-trillion-in-new-market-value-and-repair-economic-system

How to integrate Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in business

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