Sustainability is becoming increasingly relevant in different fields, from policymaking to education, health, and business. As more people actively participate in reversing environmental damage, the private sector is faced with the need to align its business strategies with social and environmental responsibility.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a key tool to help companies become socially responsible and identify growth opportunities. In this article, we will tell you what SDGs for business is, why they are important and how to achieve them.
What is sustainable development?
In 1950, the world became aware of the environmental damage caused by World War II. In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development presented the report Our Common Future, which includes the best-known definition of sustainable development:
Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Since then, sustainable development has become a “social compass.” It guides citizens, civil organizations, companies, and governments to promote actions aimed at a common goal: sustainability.
The sustainable development approach is much broader than the environment. It is also about ensuring a strong, healthy, and fair society. This means meeting the needs of all people belonging to different groups, promoting personal well-being, social cohesion, and inclusion, and creating equal opportunities.
What is SDGs for business?
The SDGs, or Sustainable Development Goals, are an essential part of the 2030 Agenda, the strategic plan proposed by the United Nations, which aims to promote sustainable development and diversity.
The SDGs are 17 goals that must be achieved during the next 10 years to comply with the 2030 Agenda. The 2030 Agenda was developed following ESG criteria; therefore, each SDG aims to solve an environmental, social, or corporate governance problem.
To meet the SDGs, the United Nations Global Compact asks companies to do business responsibly while creating new opportunities to solve societal challenges through innovation and collaboration.
SDGs for business: What are their benefits?
According to a study by the global professional services network KPMG, 84% of leading companies have identified the most relevant SDGs to their business.
A report published by the Commission on Business and Sustainable Development found that business models supported by the SDGs could create opportunities worth up to US$12 trillion in four key areas: food and agriculture, cities, energy and raw materials, and health and well-being.
The employment rates might significantly rise, creating up to 380 million jobs by 2030.
In addition, the United Nations asserts that there are five key benefits which make alignment with the SDGs essential:
- Improve operational efficiency throughout the supply chain, strengthen relationships and reduce environmental, safety, and hygiene risks.
- Increased interest from investors with ESG portfolios.
- Improved employee recruitment processes. Greater loyalty and retention.
- Respond on time to the regulatory requirements established by new laws.
Obstacles in applying the SDGs for business
What are the SDGs I should work on in my company? How can I achieve them? What is the most efficient methodology? These are just some of the most frequent questions when trying to achieve SDGs in companies.
According to the communication and public opinion consultancy Llorente & Cuenca, four major aspects make it difficult to implement sustainability strategies:
- Data collection
Knowing what needs a company has to decide which SDGs to develop and how to link them to the business strategy is key. Not all SDGs are relevant to all companies.
- Legal framework
Companies must be aware of the challenges facing the regions and countries in which they operate and align them with the SDGs.
- Effective communication
It is key to create communication channels (internal and external) involving two actors and establishing a two-way dialogue, mainly between the company and its employees. This will be key to mobilizing them to achieve the SDGs.
- Sustainability reports
Sustainability reporting goes beyond reporting results. This methodology offers sustainability performance indicators that help companies effectively self-assess themselves regardless of their business sector and size.
The solution to manage the SDGs for companies
Currently, various tools are of great help in achieving the objectives of sustainable development. isEazy ESG is a complete solution that allows you to involve and mobilize all the people in your workforce.
isEazy ESG allows an initial diagnosis to be performed to discover how much employees know about the SDGs to then be able to implement training plans thanks to its content catalog of more than sixty-five courses.
In addition, the theoretical content can be put into practice, as ESG allows you to create concrete actions with real results to achieve the SDGs. These results can be included in sustainability reports to improve non-financial reporting.