Sustainability Made Easy
Utilizing the Sustainable Development Goals to Guide Business
Guest Blog by Maquelle T. Drummond
P3 Utah Ballard Center Summer 2021 Intern
Part 3 of 3
The SDGs as a Meaningful Template for CSR Strategy
The robust CSR programs of industry leaders stem from a deep understanding of how to utilize the Sustainable Development Goals to create impactful sustainability programs. To date, few notable businesses tap into the power of the Sustainable Development Goals as the framework for their company’s CSR strategy, but many are slowly gaining traction in this arena. Two notable companies doing so are Lego and Hilton Hotels.10 Lego pursues work for goals #4 and #12, advocating for global education development and responsible consumption and production.
Hilton Hotels aligns itself with SDG #11 to create sustainable cities and communities. Upon adopting this goal, Hilton Hotels created an award-winning management system to track their social and environmental impact across 5,600 hotels that they manage. Integrating the SDGs into business means corporations are part of a worldwide network made up of actors across every sector, all of which strive for a sustainable future for mankind. That power cannot be bought or built by a single entity, but it can be built by a whole sector of people whose influence stems from a successful corporation.
The Sustainable Development Goals identifies 17 goals and 179 key targets. These goals contain meaningful, relevant areas in which businesses likely already perform work. The framework exists, and numerous actors work towards achieving progress in these areas. Business managers and directors can easily select the goals which are most relevant to their operations, identify the targets, and determine what initiatives lie in their power to undertake. The goals are coherently designed, and thus, making progress on a single goal comes with the added bonus of contributing towards another.
Opportunities Discovered by Achieving the SDGs
Exciting opportunities lie ahead for businesses willing to invest in the Sustainable Development Goals, opportunities which thrillingly are accompanied by a price tag of US$12 trillion. Yes, you read that right; the letter is a “t”. The attached infographic displays the wealth available to businesses who pursue the SDGs to the fullest as well as the most lucrative industries where this value can be found. Sustainable development has something for everyone no matter where you live around the globe, and it is not just a happy, clear conscience.
The SDGs offer a prescription for a new, socially focused business model that extends to sectors of the global economy which were previously left largely to public aid.11 Corporations that choose to adopt the SDGs will discover new avenues of business, outperforming their contenders who remain stagnant and stuck in yesterday’s economic game. Not only can businesses vouch for increased social responsibility, but they can bet on increased returns on capital too.
How to Integrate the SDGs into Corporate Strategy
Following these key steps will help any business to develop a dynamic, impactful sustainability program:
● Analyze the goals and targets of the SDGs to identify the causes that matter most for your business or under which SDG umbrella your business may already be operating. ● Conduct an audit on current business operations across all the SDGs; determine where your business is drastically falling short in promoting social equity and environmental justice, both internally and externally across your complete value chain. ● Integrate the SDGs into corporate strategy. ● Partner with other entities and actors working to progress your same cause. ● Set benchmarks and consistently measure your progress through research, studies, surveys, and more. ● Include your progress in the business’s annual sustainability reports. ● Establish your business as a leader in the industry and set a precedent for other businesses to follow.
Reaching the mark on the Sustainable Development Goals will transform our modern world into one of absolute sustainability: equity for all, environmental security and resilience, economic prosperity, and inclusivity.12 The SDGs generate a model for long-term growth in the decades to come not only for the world but for businesses, too. An incredible, unparalleled opportunity exists here for the private sector, to make its part one more brick in the building of a sustainable future for us all.
___________________________________________ 8 Business and Sustainable Development Commission, Better Business, Better World, 2017, https://www.unglobalcompact.org/library/5051. 9 Business and Sustainable Development Commission, Better Business, 13. 10 Strietman, Femke. “How 7 companies help tackle the UN Sustainable Development Goals.” Proof of Impact. Medium. Accessed May 22, 2021. https://medium.com/proofofimpact/how-7-companies-helptackle-the-un-sustainable-development-goals-b06a83d80785 11 Business and Sustainable Development Commission, Better Business, 9. 12 Business and Sustainable Development Commission, Better Business, 13.