On 1 January 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at an historic UN Summit — officially came into force. Over the next fifteen years, with these new Goals that universally apply to all, countries will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.
The SDGs, also known as Global Goals, build on the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and aim to go further to end all forms of poverty. The new Goals are unique in that they call for action by all countries, poor, rich and middle-income to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and addresses a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection.
These are the SDGs – also known as the global goals. (read topics aloud – touch on far-reaching, interconnected nature)
There are many differences that have been highlighted between the MDGs and SDGs. Unlike the MDGs, which were targeted mostly at poor countries, the new SDG targets call all countries to action. One of the main contextual differences between the two is that the SDGs are regarded as drastic improvements to the MDGs which in retrospect, fail to consider the root causes of poverty and fall short of considering the holistic nature of development1. The SDGs cover topics from consumption to global trade and are considered to be better equipped to handle coming challenges as well as those currently.
BUT one of the biggest and most significant differences is that the SDGs were designed to bring in the private sector. These SDGs represent an unprecedented opportunity for companies to align their own sustainability goals with broader societal goals.
The UN report reads: “ “In addition to eliminating poverty, the new framework will need to address the drivers of change, such as economic growth, job creation, reduced inequality and innovation that makes better and more careful use of natural resources. Industry plays a prominent role in advancing all these drivers.”
These statements were echoed by now former secretary general Ban Ki-moon at a 2015 UN Private Sector Forum.
As the report points out, the sector’s international reach and business practices can enact real change and innovation. Corporations can reach developing regions to spur sustainable economic growth, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and champion peace and gender equality. All of these things, while being good for the world, are also good for business. The private sector can also align CSR strategies with the SDGs, encourage skills-based volunteering for SDG progress among employees, include global causes in workplace giving campaigns, and raise awareness of the SDGs and efforts to achieve them among staff and the public.
Explain how SDGs benefit business. SHARE THIS STAT from Biz & Sustainable Development Commission:
The delivery of the SDGs could generate
up to US€12 trillion a year and 380m new jobs by 2030 in four key areas – health and wellbeing, sustainable cities, food & agriculture and energy.
So we know that companies are playing a major role in advancing SDGs – and that doing so is good for business. So, how should a company begin the process of integrating and aligning their CSR programs with the SDGs? This is a great chart from BSR (TALK THROUGH THE STEPS)
Another great model is called the SDG Compass, from UN Global Compass, GRI and WBCSD. It’s a great site/full of resources. Let’s talk through these steps quickly.
Step 1: Understanding the SDGs means that you know what the global priorities are and you understand the business case for addressing them. It’s important that all the players on your leadership team understand this too.
Step 2: Prioritize Not all 17 SDGs will be equally relevant for your company. The extent to which your company can contribute to each, and the risks and opportunities they individually represent, will depend on many factors. Taking a strategic approach to the SDGs, your first task should be to conduct an assessment on the current, potential, positive and negative impacts that your business activities have on the SDGs throughout the value chain. This will help you identify where positive impacts can be scaled up and where negative impacts can be reduced or avoided.
Step 3: Set goals Setting specific, measurable and time-bound sustainability goals helps foster shared priorities and drive performance across the organization, and is becoming increasingly widespread. By aligning with the SDGs, companies can set more meaningful goals and communicate more effectively about its commitment to sustainable development.
Step 4: Integration Integrating sustainability has the potential to transform all aspects of your company’s core business, including its product and service offering, customer segments, supply chain management, choice and use of raw materials, transport and distribution networks and product end-of-life. To pursue shared objectives or address systematic changes, companies are increasingly working with partners to enhance their impact and reach.
Step 5: communicate It’s important to report and communicate on your progress against the SDGs continuously in order to understand and meet the needs of your stakeholders. This includes employees, board members, consumers - tell your story!
encouraging skills-based volunteering for SDG progress among employees, including global causes in your workplace giving campaigns, and raising awareness of the SDGs and efforts to achieve them among staff and the public.
An example of a companies collaborating to advance the SDGs through employee engagement. Impact 2030 (with some founding members featured above) is all about cultivating human capital – employees – to use their skills to volunteer in support of SDGs.
And platforms Businessfor2030, website created by the United States Council for International Business to showcase business’ past and continuing contributions to sustainable development through the prism of the SDGs.
Global Daily, an aggregator of news and resources about the SDGs from around the world, supported by the UN Foundation, Ooredoo and Kenneth Cole.
Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, is a multi-stakeholder network of more than 150 data champions working to galvanize political commitments, align strategic priorities, foster collaboration, spur innovations, build capacity and enhance trust in the booming data ecosystems of the 21st century. The goal of this partnership is to help build an enabling environment for harnessing the data revolution to achieve sustainable development.
Here’s how a specific company – Caesars entertainment – prioritizes which SDGs to focus on and integrates into its CSR goals (go through these)
Another shining example – Pearson (also a great example of how to communicate alignment with SDGs!). TALK THROUGH
Bank of America has aligned its sustainability efforts towards promoting low carbon business and financing green bonds to tackle the effects of climate change.
The Coca-Cola Company has mapped all 17 SDGs against its business units to integrate its efforts in achieving sustainable development outcomes.
GSMA is using its convening power as the world’s largest network of mobile operators to demonstrate the power of the mobile industry in driving sustainable business policies and practices, advocating for sustainability in commercial models, and encouraging continued commitments by the mobile industry to promote the SDGs and the mobile industry’s impact on the SDGs.
KPMG is committing to inspire and equip its clients to increase their contribution to sustainable development, focusing particularly on education, economic growth, and responsible consumption.
MasterCard is working to build inclusive economies and ensure financial inclusion for all by championing women in technology, smarter cities, and entrepreneurship.
Novozymes has embedded the SDGs into its core business model by incorporating sustainable solutions into its supply chains, product development, and environmental footprint.
OPEN DISCUSSION – how are your companies integrating/aligning with SDGs? If they aren’t, do you have ideas for how they could be or challenges getting in the way?
Aligning with the UN Sustainable Development Goals #SDGs
Rallying Around The UN’s
Sustainable Development Goals
• An overview of the Sustainable Development
• How to integrate SDGs into your business
• Examples and group discussion
CEO, McPherson Strategies
• 17 goals designed to end poverty, protect the
planet and ensure all people enjoy people and
• 169 targets to be achieved over next 15 years
• Announced by the UN in January 2016;
adopted by world leaders in September ‘16 at
the UN Summit
• The SDGs follow and expand on the
millennium development goals (MDGs), which
were agreed on by governments in 2001 and
expired in 2015
• Collaboration between governments, civil
society and businesses
The big difference between the millennium
development goals and the SDGs?
The SDGs mean business.
Now is the time to mobilize the global
business community as never before.
The case is clear. Realizing the
Sustainable Development Goals will
improve the environment for doing
business and building markets. Trillions
of dollars in public and private funds are
to be redirected towards the SDGs,
creating huge opportunities for
responsible companies to deliver
Business is good for SDGs…and the
SDGs are good for business!