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SDGs: Doing nothing is a costly option
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by 193 countries in 2015 represent one of the best business opportunities in history, in addition to offering help in solving most of the world’s problems. For the first time, countries, civil society and business from both developing and developed countries, are called to action.
According to the Business and Sustainable Development Commission’s Better Business, Better World report, there are opportunities worth at least $12 trillion per year to be achieved and 380 million jobs to be generated by 2030. That is equivalent to more than 10% of the global GDP or all jobs today in the US, Japan, Mexico, Germany, France, Korea and Italy combined. Or, one can say, at least 10% of revenues of businesses still around in 2030.
Today the World Business Council on Sustainable Development launches the CEO Guide to the Sustainable Development Goals. Even if you are not a CEO (yet) it provides excellent arguments for action – or to convince your CEO and board. Some food for thought:
· Doing nothing is a costly option: environmental and social burdens, regulatory risks, market disruptions and reduced license to operate may restrain growth.
· There is a prize in aligning the business strategies with the SDGs: mainly new growth markets, but also better communication and regained trust.
· Better information means better decisions: It’s critical for companies to use mainstream risk disclosure models (such as COSO or ISO 31000 enterprise risk management frameworks) and also to price and integrate externalities. Check for instance the Recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.
· Realizing the SDGs is beyond the reach of one company: which means collaboration between a critical mass of companies at the industry level and across sectors, but also public-private partnerships (PPPs).
What can business do?
The new CEO Guide naturally suggests that “at this time of political and economic uncertainty, strong and visionary CEO leadership is essential”, but it also recommends actions at individual, sector, and policy levels. Even if your CEO has not memorized the SDGs or if your sector is not very proactive, the Guide comes with the following actions that can be pursued at the company-level:
· Understand and measure externalities: Develop a thorough understanding of how your company’s business activities translate into economic, environmental and social impacts in the context of the SDGs.
· Set goals: Plot a course towards enhancing positive and mitigating negative SDG impacts.
· Develop business solutions: Apply an SDG lens at the strategic level to harness your organization’s potential to engineer business solutions that make your company more successful and sustainable.
· Communicate: Consider regular and transparent communication of SDG performance and progress.
How to implement the SDGs at business level?
The best tool currently in the market is the SDG Compass, which is now available in 12 languages. This tool sets a slightly different set of more practical steps to implement the SDGs:
· Step 01: Understanding the SDGs
· Step 02: Defining priorities
· Step 03: Setting Goals
· Step 04: Integrating
· Step 05: Reporting and communicating
The accompanying inventories of tools and indicators are also useful, however there are other tools and guidance available which would be useful to business in implementing the SDGs.
How to spread the word around my business and my supply chain?
Our continuous research shows a gap between the business commitment, the employees, and the supply chain. To help close this gap quickly we are developing a new elearning course and guidebook: Sustainable Development Goals for Business. Be the one of the first to learn more here. And help us to shape it by answering this short survey.
Join our crowdfunding campaign
Next week we are launching a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to help fund the development of the elearning course and the guidebook.
The purpose of the campaign is to:
· Raise awareness about the SDGs
· Better understand the demand for our offering
· Get financial support to help cover our costs
· Refine the material by including your feedback
Stay tuned and watch this space for more information. Or simply write to us: firstname.lastname@example.org
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