Update on the SDGs: why should organisations take the goals seriously?

February 2018

The United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted in 2015. At the core of the agenda are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets. The SDGs apply to all countries and set the priorities for governments.

Whilst the overall responsibility to achieve the goals lies within policy makers and states, business has been recognised as a crucial actor in driving the agenda.

There are many arguments building up the business case for the SDGs and their relevance to businesses, but here are three of them:

  1. Governments shape business strategy

Increasingly, governments are implementing a roadmap to guide their national policy and regulation bodies. According to the SDG Index, which measures the progress of 149 countries against the SDGs, lists Sweden as the leader of the pack, followed closely by its Scandinavian neighbours. In annual surveys, CEOs around the world continuously list governments and regulators as a main influencer in shaping business strategy.

  1. Position yourself as a leader

Companies that adopt and contribute to the SDGs have a high potential of pioneering, driving sectoral change and increasing their brand value. Businesses that are slow at picking up the SDGs and lag behind their peers, risk to be left out of important industry partnerships and lose leadership momentum.

  1. Creating market potential

The SDGs present significant new opportunities to companies that consider emerging and frontier markets as their source of growth. According to estimations presented in a McKinsey report from 2015, there might be up to 30 trillion

USD worth of untapped consumers by 2025. Contributing to the goals could potentially unleash the “trapped value”.In Sweden and globally, the number of companies adopting and implementing Agenda 2030 is rapidly increasing. When looking at how organisations work with the SDGs, there are a few approaches that stand out:

  1. Adopting the goals as a catalyst for strategic change
  • The goals provide inspiration to a lot of companies
  • The SDGs and the idea of creating shared value work well together when arguing for strategic relevance
  • The goals offer a roadmap until 2030
  1. Implementing the goals as a framework to measure impact
  • The goals can assist companies to identify and reveal impacts they haven’t thought about
  • The SDGs help assess negative impacts along the value chain
  • The goals offer opportunities to spot and enhance positive impacts
  1. Using the goals as platform for common language
  • The SDGs make it easier for companies to link their contributions to global, regional and national agendas
  • The goals allow companies to communicate with peers and stakeholders in a meaningful way

Want to know more about the SDGs? We have some tips!

There is a lot of information out there, including tools, models and numerous reports. We continuously browse through a good portion of them, so here are some tips and ideas for further reading:

SDG Compass
A free resource that can help organisations align their strategy to the SDGs as well as measure and manage their contributions.

The Sustainable Development Goals, integrated thinking and the integrated report

A five-step approach that links used capital to impacts and the SDGs through the value creation process.

CEO Guide to the Sustainable Development Goals  

A quick and visual report that offers valuable input for CEOs and highlight the role of business in the realisation of the SDGs.

Business Reporting on the SDGs: An Analysis of the Goals and Targets

An analysis that provides an extensive list of possible reporting disclosures for each SDG and their respective targets. The report will be followed by a practical guide (“A Practical Guide to Defining Priorities and Reporting”), which will help organisations choose the targets to report on.

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