From reducing carbon emissions to promoting equality, the SDGs offer a framework for businesses to make a positive impact on the world.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals serve as guidelines for every country’s development and are supposed to stimulate actions in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet.
This involves targeting the most vulnerable, increasing basic resources and services, and supporting communities.
The idea is to lead the world to a more prosperous, healthy, inclusive, and sustainable society, where everyone can have enough of what they need, living within our planetary boundaries.
They are usually graphically represented this way:
The 17 SDGs goals are operated within various initiatives and each initiative fits several SDGs.
The SDGs are part of a framework to help all stakeholders implement actions that meet some or all of the goals.
There are no checking, certifications, or recognitions of the actions planned and the results achieved by the Division for Sustainable Development Goals (DSDG).
It is only a declarative statement.
The only way to verify is to trust the information and results communicated by governments, organizations, and companies.
Usually, they mentioned in their communication the Sustainable Development Goals they are working towards and which actions they are implementing to achieve their targets within the 2030 deadline.
The Preamble of the Agenda 2021 says “a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, focused in particular on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable and with the participation of all countries, all stakeholders and all people.”
This highlights the ambition of the SDGs to be used by everyone, from governments to civil society to the private sector, as guidelines to define global priorities and aspirations for 2030.
This is a major difference with the MDGs, which were mainly used by governments. The UN wants everyone to take responsibility for society's Sustainable Development and act toward the universal goal of ending poverty in all forms.
In order to make the 2030 Agenda a reality, broad ownership of the SDGs must translate into a strong commitment by all stakeholders to implement the global goals. Stakeholders must know what are the SDGs and how to do their part.
Below are a few examples of organizations using SDGs:
The use and implementation of the SDGs is part of a company’s CSR strategy. It can help define objectives and give a broader and wider meaning of CSR actions.
It positions the company as an actor making its part in the ambitious goal of Agenda 2030, the universal project to end poverty in all forms, protect the planet and achieve worldwide peace and prosperity for people, now and into the future.
The benefits of using SDGs are those of having an ambitious sustainability strategy:
At a more global level, using SDGs allow companies to have a common language to communicate about their impact and performance.
It also participates in stabilizing societies and markets, as businesses cannot succeed in societies that fail.
Using the SGDs is free because this approach only provides guidelines to work towards, with the aim to help define strategies and action plans.
The timeline and the cost are defined by the companies themselves. However, it makes sense that the deadlines are set to be 2030 or sooner, as part of the 2030 Agenda and in alignment with SDGs sub-targets.
To help meet this fast-approaching 2030 deadline, and based on their resources, time and budget constraints, companies can decide to align their strategy on one or several SDGs.
The steps for implementing the SDGs into the companies' strategy and business may vary depending on their choices and constraints.
However, the steps below provide an idea of what the implementation process can look like:
Companies’ decision-makers must familiarize themselves with the SDGs philosophy, approach and concept and understand the opportunities and responsibilities they represent for their business.
They can start with:
It is also very important to make sure teams know and understand Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
There are several resources and videos that explain them on the SDGs website.
The top management teams can organize dedicated moments to raise awareness and train the teams to the SDGs, their purpose and why the company is going to use them.
That resonate with the companies’ vision and purpose and are linked to their sector and mission. Choosing collectively with all the employees will engage them in the process.
Understand whether companies’ activity has a positive or negative impact on the chosen
SDGs and set targets for each SDGs (KPIs).
Use the SDGs to define a longer-term sustainable investment vision and integrate them into the core business, governance and organizational strategy.
Set up timelines, resources and budgets to implement dedicated actions and projects.
Following the SDGs strategy commitment, actions and projects can be implemented internally and on a wider approach, with partners and stakeholders. Partnering with other organizations will:
Communicating on companies’ progress against the SDGs allows them to be recognized for their commitment, to meet the needs of their stakeholders and to set an example for their ecosystem.
The Integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into Corporate Reporting guide outlines a three-step process to embed the SDGs into existing business and reporting processes.
It helps companies to better report their impact on the SDGs and address the information needs of relevant stakeholders.
To go into more detail, two guides have been developed to help companies with the SDGs implementation:
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