Sustainable Development Goals as your guideline and yardstick

17 global goals set by 193 countries; the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) form THE global action agenda for climate, sustainability and social justice until 2030. An increasing number of businesses, investors, governments and non-profits align their strategies with the SDGs and show how they contribute to these goals. How about you? Want to know what value this can bring to your organisation, and how to go about it? Keep reading.

What are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

The 17 SDGs, launched by the United Nations in 2015, cover the world’s most pressing social, environmental and economic challenges, such as providing decent work for everyone and tackling climate change. They provide a blueprint for public and private sector organisations to contribute to achieving a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030. An increasing number of businesses is adopting the SDGs as a framework to guide their sustainability performance.

Simply good business.

Everything organisations do has impact – on individual people, on society, and on the planet. In a time where climate change, social inequality, and other global issues are becoming increasingly urgent, it essential that organisations manage these social and environmental impacts, alongside their financial value. The SDGs offer a globally recognized framework and universal language to do just that.

Achieving the SDGs is not just the government’s responsibility. Rather, as the engine of economic growth, businesses play a key role in achieving the SDGs. Whether you are operating in the financial- , the construction- , or the healthcare sector; whether you are a large corporate or SME; your contribution to the SDGs is much needed.  

But besides a responsibility towards the world and its people, aligning with the SDGs is also just good business. Why?

Managing (or not managing) impact has financial implications:

Understanding your organisation’s social and environmental impact helps you set concrete goals to improve that impact. It can also help identify efficient and clean innovations that save costs, develop new business models, attract and retain talented staff, improve your reputation and stakeholder relations, attract capital  and give you a competitive advantage.

Climate-related risk is considered the number on risk for organisations and the economy in the years to come. Not anticipating and mitigating these risks poses a threat to your business. Not managing the sustainability of your services and supply chains additionally provides reputational and legal risks.

Where to start

The SDGs can provide direction for your strategy and concrete actions with regard to sustainability and societal challenges. Moreover, they can serve as framework for your (annual) reports and can be used in communication to demonstrate your organisation’s purpose and impact. But where do you start?

Which SDGs does your organisation focus on? How do you contribute to these goals? How much impact do you have on these SDGs? And how can you integrate the SDGs in your business processes? To embed the SDGs in your organisations, the following three steps are relevant:

1. SDG strategy
What do the SDGs comprise of and which goals are relevant in your organisation’s context? How do your products and services contribute to which SDGs (or not)?
How can you improve your impact? The first step is identifying and prioritising the SDGs most relevant to your organisations, and drafting a strategy how you (can) contribute to these goals.

2. Measure impact on SDGs
How do you measure your results, contribution and impact on the SDGs?
Once you’ve got your strategy in place, set concrete goals and develop KPIs to measure and monitor progress. Getting the right data can be challenging: review the data you already have, and develop a data strategy that outlines what data you require additionally and how and where to collect that.

3. SDG-proof impact report
How do you communicate your results to stakeholders?
Capture your results, process and ambitions in a dashboard or report that you share with internal and/or external stakeholders. This can be a sustainability or impact report, but could also be part of your annual (integrated) report.

Need help? Our experts can support you at the start or throughout this entire process.

Start with a SDG Quick Scan

We offer expertise, advice and guidance to help organisations become 'SDG-proof'. Contact us for an SDG Quick Scan for your organisation.