In this case study, you’ll find out about the role of business in SDGs 2030 Agenda and how to choose them for your industry project.

In business development, the SDGs can be a driving force to help organizations identify significant risks, build an effective business model, and implement the chosen strategy that will drive company growth. At the same time, all this will be possible only if each part of the organization directs its efforts to achieve the set goals.

Role of Business in Sustainable Development Goals 2030 Agenda

These UN Sustainable Development Goals are universally applicable to both developing and developed countries. Governments are expected to translate these into national action plans, strategies and initiatives that reflect the different realities and capacities of these countries.

While the SDGs are primarily addressed to governments, they are designed to bring together a wide range of organizations, shaping priorities and aspirations for achieving sustainable development based on shared principles. Most importantly, the SDGs recognize the key role that businesses can and should play in achieving them.

Thanks to the UN Global Compact alone, more than 1,500 companies have contributed to the development of the SDGs.

The SDGs call on all companies to promote sustainable development through investment, solutions, and business practices. The goals stimulate companies to reduce negative impacts and, at the same time, increase positive contributions to the sustainable development agenda.

The extent and speed with which companies around the world are developing sustainable business models will play a large role in the successful achievement of the SDGs. In turn, all companies face challenges that affect the attainment of sustainable development. One of them is choosing the right goal for your company. In order to make the right choice, you first need to understand what SDGs are, become familiar with all SDGs and understand what opportunities and challenges they present to your company.

The Scenario for Using the SDGs

CEOs and other senior executives play an important role in choosing the right goals and assure that the company will reach it, as leadership is key in this matter. Once board members understand the importance of the Goals to overall performance, the entire organization will follow suit.

To make sure business is on the right track, employees need to go through sustainable development courses first, then set the direction that everyone will support. In this regard, it is important to establish sustainability metrics that are meaningful to the entire business. They should take into account economic and social factors, provide for a quantitative assessment of the impact in terms of the feasibility of costs for the organization and society. This will enable the business to understand the impact it is currently having, build an understanding of areas for improvement, and thus identify new opportunities for growth.

To maximize the effectiveness of sustainability efforts, it is necessary to rank, clarify, measure and, ideally, express in monetary terms the meaning of each goal and objective and their relationship to business performance in the short and longer term. This can be achieved through regular sustainability or integrated reporting to all business stakeholders.

How to Choose Sustainable Development Goals?

When analyzing sustainability reporting, one common problem can be found – the lack of a well-organized strategy to prioritizing the goals. Companies pick SDGs formally, not linking them either with particular steps and measures or with indicators for assessing the effects of these actions.

More importantly, businesses link projects that have already been implemented to these goals, rather than drawing up a roadmap for specific targets needed to achieve them.

The SDG Compass tells us that there are three steps to choosing the right goal:

1. Evaluate your current standing

Evaluate the extent to which the company’s prevailing and scheduled activities bridge the sustainability gap or postpone the achievement of SDGs. This is the first step, and it includes the analysis of the whole value chain. You can assess the value chain as follows:

  • evaluate each section of the chain
  • evaluate the capability of your business in each section
  • realize what actual impact the organization can accomplish by setting SDGs.

2. Match the goals and capabilities

Define what goals suit your business mission capacities. A single coherent pattern is used to evaluate the company’s donation to a specific task that helps to achieve sustainability globally.

For example, a company has adopted Goal 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth). It has to start with evaluating the necessary means (funds, personnel, terms). The next step is determining the required operations (education, practice). It is essential that the company can estimate the outcome of these measures. Next, the company needs to decide what exactly will be the outcome of these steps. For instance, calculating how many people were trained for certain work and how many of them were hired due to the education that the company provided to them. Finally, the company can determine the impact it had on society.

3. Choose particular assessable KPIs

Generally, KPIs show average and long-term signs that characterize progress towards achieving an SDG. KPIs can be both qualitative and quantitative:

  • qualitative: for example, improving the condition of drinking water in a particular region;
  • quantitative: for example, reducing GHG emissions or waste generation in corresponding units.

Ultimately, organizations must report on sustainability accomplishments. This is a vital step, as businesses that follow sustainable development goals are in great demand nowadays.

Final Word

Many companies nowadays talk about SDGs as a matter of sustainability rather than using them in real operations to shape their business strategy for the SDGs implementation. While all UN goals matter equally, one company shouldn’t try to reach them all. For true results, it is best to choose one SDG that suits your company mission.