Business is a vital partner in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Companies can contribute through their core activities, and we ask companies everywhere to assess their impact, set ambitious goals and communicate transparently about the results.
Written by Elizabeth J. W. Spencer
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) ratings are not just aligned with SDGs, but are critical to quantifying and accelerating the impact of sustainability measures around the globe. The SDGs or the “Global Goals” were developed in 2015 covering 17 thematic areas, to leave no one behind and create equitable prosperity for all. To name a few of the SGDs: no poverty, zero hunger, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, climate action and sustainable cities and communities.
The SDGs call the whole world to action to end poverty and protect our planet by highlighting the problems, setting targets and utilizing quantitative and qualitative indicators to get us there. Different from the Millennium Development Goals, businesses are called to implement sustainable practices in line with the SDGs as businesses lead the way with innovative solutions for change. Here are six reasons to integrate SDGs into your business plan.
1. SDGs are a roadmap for growth
In addressing the biggest challenges facing this world the SDGs also outline huge opportunities for growth and innovative business solutions. By 2030 the middle class will represent 70% the world’s population in an already underserved demographic. The increase in consumers and the demand on the planet's already limited resources will actually create 380 million jobs and $12 trillion new market opportunities across sectors including agriculture, energy, and health.
2. SDG action attracts capital
Besides SDGs being one of the foundational frameworks to measure and assess ESG performance, having SDG-focused strategies as part of your business plan can actually attract new and different kinds of capital whether equity, debt, grants, green bonds, climate finance or other pay for performance funding depending on your business type. The UN estimates that it will cost between $5-7 trillion to achieve the SDGs across various sectors. There is an expected pivot within some investment funds towards incentivizing progress toward the SDGs as creative forms of investment, such as social bonds, continue to be developed.
3. SDG-centric strategies generate innovation
The targets outlined in the 17 SDGs are opportunities for human innovation and creativity to solve and mitigate these risks to humanity. Innovations born from SDG strategies can dramatically improve this planet and thereby create a more equitable place for all in transportation, technology, sustainable farming, reduction of consumer food waste, environmentally-neutral chemicals, energy creations and storage, as well as the reduction of fossil fuel reliance.
4. SDGs are a compass for risk.
SDGs have clearly laid out the environmental and social risks our world will face over the next decade. Now is the time for businesses to adapt to the risks of climate change and supply chains or become obsolete. Every industry will feel the effects of increased regulations around ESG as well as reduced availability of resources. SDGs are the necessary framework that ESG needs to measure not only risk, but also impact, which will trigger regulation as well as incentivize businesses to comply and disclose. Get your company ahead of the regulations and dwindling resources with a proactive strategy using the SDGs as a guide for your sustainability strategy.
5. SDG impact drives purpose for stakeholders
Companies like Unilever have geared their whole business and brand toward SDGs and are fostering collaboration around the globe with their strategy. They are using their brand to drive relevance and meaning for their customers, employees, investors and all their stakeholders as they move toward the Global Goals.
6. SDGs demand diversity
SDGs push for diversity and inclusion across the SDG spectrum. For businesses diversity and inclusion can actually result in improved company performance. In one study called “Waiter is that inclusion in my soup?” businesses with high inclusion as well as diversity saw an 80% increase in performance as measured through innovation, collaboration and engagement.
Integrating the SDGs into your business plan isn’t just about making a few diverse hires, installing some solar panels and donating annually to the local soup kitchen. Those are great steps, but there is an even greater opportunity to integrate the challenges that SDGs outline into your business plan – turning challenges into opportunities for your business to grow in undeveloped markets and strengthen for the future. Find out how we can help your company.
About Elizabeth J. W. Spencer
With a varied career in international politics, social enterprises and a tech start-up, the common thread for Elizabeth over the past decade has been the pursuit of sustainable development in emerging markets. Writing has been the medium to synthesize her experiences in between changing diapers and kissing skinned knees. Elizabeth believes that power of purpose-driven businesses to deliver profitable products at the intersection of societal and environmental benefits can change the world. She lives in an ‘01 converted Blue Bird school bus with her husband, two kids, and a Vizsla.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
About Elizabeth J. W. Spencer
With a varied career in international politics, social enterprises and a tech start-up, the common thread for Elizabeth over the past decade has been the pursuit of sustainable development in emerging markets. Writing has been the medium to synthesize her experiences in between changing diapers and kissing skinned knees. Elizabeth believes that power of purpose-driven businesses to deliver profitable products at the intersection of societal and environmental benefits can change the world. She lives in an ‘01 converted Blue Bird school bus with her husband, two kids and a Vizsla.