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Five tips to kick start your Sustainable Development Goals as a business

As industry and technology advance, as new markets, populations and global health risks grow and as natural resources diminish, informed consumers and investors are calling on businesses to step up. 

Scientists predict that by 2100, if serious action isn’t taken to reduce our carbon emissions, the planet will be 3.5 – 8 degrees Celsius hotter than it is now, resulting in apocalyptic destruction

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Poverty and unstainable patterns of production and consumption are key drivers of environmental degradation. These are just two of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which is the result of a universal call to action to end poverty and protect the planet. 

While some businesses have heeded the call to deliver on these global SDGs there are still many who are unsure of how to exactly do this. How do they take action towards a more sustainable future? How do they measure their SDG performance? Where do they begin their journey to building a better world? And how will it add value?

The UN Global Compact and B Lab (the NGO behind the global B Corporation Certification process offer the following advice and steps one can take to align their business strategy within the SDG framework:

1. Use the latest digital tools to start the process

Technological advancements are making the SDG journey far more efficient. Companies are now able to access digital tools like the UN Global’s free SDG Action Manager Tool which manages, monitors, and visualises performance against relevant SDG metrics, streamlining the sustainability journey. The Baseline Survey helps with getting a clearer idea of a company’s current impact is, from which goals can be established. It’s not always so easy to recognise what SDGs a company must follow which is why letting technology help will save you time and money. 

2. Get a Clear View on Your Company’s Current Impact

By using a digital tool it will help you to figure out how your operations, supply chain, and business model create a positive impact and identify risk areas for each SDG. It will automatically assess and understanding material impacts and exposure to environmental risk and suggest a suitable response. 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 which will require a strategic approach to determine the current, potentially positive, and negative impacts your business activities have on the SDGs throughout the value chain.

3. Set goals and targets and visualize your company’s progress

Based on where your company stands you can begin to set goals for improvement. It’s here that you want to identify which of the 17 SDGs matter the most to your company profile. It could be anything from no poverty, zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, quality education, to gender equality, clean water, and sanitation, and affordable and clean energy to name a few. By aligning KPIs with the SDGs, companies can set more meaningful goals and communicate more effectively about its commitment to sustainable development.

4. Collaborate with peers and integrate

Invite colleagues to contribute their expertise because collaborating with peers can improve efficiency and sustainability. 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, will enhance your impact and reach.

5. Report and Communicating

Stakeholder demand for information has radically increased over the past decade with more corporate sustainability disclosure being practiced. In order to understand and meet the needs of stakeholders, it’s vitally important to report and communicate on progress made against SDGs. SDG target 12.6 calls on governments everywhere to ‘encourage companies, especially large and trans-national companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle. Technological advancements are, however, making this process more efficient. Companies are now able to access digital tools like B Corporation and UN Global Compact’s free SDG Action Manager Tool which manages, monitors, and reports on the entire SDG process, leveraging from overlaps in various reporting requirements, to streamline the SDG journey.

Ultimately, for SDG to work, reporting needs to be transparent, which is where digital tools have become an essential part of the process.

To take the first step with the free, easy-to-use online SDG Action Manager tool so you can start measuring today visit a resourceful tool online.

Featured image: Scott Graham via Unsplash 

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