In 2015, the United Nations (UN) led a process that resulted in the adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The idea behind the initiative is to tackle climate change, end poverty, and fight inequality before the end of 2030. Additionally, the SDGs cover broad challenges including economic inclusion, geopolitical instability and environmental degradation. The agendas were developed based on inputs of businesses, non-profit organizations and academic organizations.
With the SDGs, many companies have begun to recognize that the only way to address the complex sustainability challenges is to scale up their efforts. They need to work and collaborate with peers, governments, sector organizations, customers and non-profit organizations. By including sustainability goals in business plans, companies can play a more pivotal role in the achievement of sustainable development goals, and they may also gain a lot from it.
Sustainability and the Business Case
Companies face different kinds of challenges that limit their potential to grow and excel. This includes scarcity of natural resources, limited local buying power, weak financial markets and the list goes on. As a result of these limitations, it is vital that companies employ business sustainability strategies that can help them create opportunities. This way they can address the four vital facets of businesses, namely growth, capital, purpose and risk. In terms of business growth, the 8th, 9th and 12th Sustainable Development Goals come to play. While these goals are directly concerned with economic growth, sustainable industrialization, employment, innovation and sustainable production, businesses can also take advantage of them by expanding into new markets and attracting talents. By implementing sustainable business practices in your organization you can gain from more resilient communities and have reliable access to natural resources.
Sustainable Development and Addressing Risks
If the financial, natural, and social resources of an organization are eroded elsewhere, it may be unable to continue creating capital. Every goal in the SDGs represents a risk area that is currently posing challenges to businesses. For instance, supply chains are exposed to the effects of climate change and the depletion of natural resources. By adopting sustainable development goals in a business plan, organizations can exacerbate these risks. Another reason companies should consider including SDGs in their business plan is that they may have a direct influence on their investors. Investors now pay close attention to environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks before making an investment decision. Thus, if you own a company, it is vital that you as well as your employees adopt sustainable living practices so as to create competitive advantages related to ESG performance.
Attracting Capital and Focusing on Purpose
In a bid to tackle the developmental challenges in the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals, we expect a redirection of public and private investment flows. This expectation is based on experiences with climate finance and private-sector financial products like green bonds. Organizations that adopt innovative finance models that are geared towards the realization of the SDGs will be better positioned to benefit directly from new sources of capital. Including SDGs in a business plan can help companies focus on a purpose and create shared value for all the stakeholders. This way, they can become a strong driving force for galvanizing stakeholders to a common outcome. By focusing on a purpose that revolves around improving the world, organizations can inspire others, create a compelling brand image, and even increase their opportunity to make profits and create sustainable value.
Actions to Take Towards Sustainable Development Goals
So far, we have pointed out some of the benefits you can enjoy by including SDGs in your business plan. But what are the actions that you need to take? First, companies have to identify how the goals, directly and indirectly, affect their businesses. This way, they can employ a strategic approach to committing these goals and align them with their corporate priorities to make a positive impact.
Develop Targets and KPIs
In addition to identifying and committing to SDGs that aligns with your business priorities, it’s also essential that you develop targets and KPIs. The 17 sustainable development goals are accompanied by 169 specific and global targets. By developing a clear target, organizations will find it easy to monitor their progress and see how SDGs impact their businesses. Besides that, they will be able to easily identify aspects to improve on.
Create Business Opportunities and Collaborate
Another thing that you can do as a business owner to incorporate SDGs into your plans is to create business opportunities. By identifying new business products, services or models that drive towards the achievement of SDGs, new markets and customers will probably emerge. Among the key areas to consider when creating business opportunities are education, underserved geographies as well as sectors related to combating climate change such as energy efficiency. Truth be told, it is almost impossible for a single company to solve all the challenges associated with achieving SDGs. Thus, collaboration is vital, not only within your business sectors but also across different industries. So as a business owner, you should find opportunities to collaborate with peers, suppliers, customers and non-profit organizations. In addition, partner with governments and civil society to deploy needed resources that promotes sustainable living.
Conclusion on Including Sustainable Development Goals in Business Plans
The beauty of SDGs is that it offers a road map for companies to engage with stakeholders and create sustainable strategies that can help transform their businesses positively. By investing and aligning your business plans with this universal framework, you can better your organizational values, employees as well as the global environment. Not to forget the fact that including SDGs in your business plan can also lead to financial profit.
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