A Sustainability Journey, Guide
In 2015, 193 U.N. countries around the world drafted and adopted 17 ambitious goals. With a 2030 deadline, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (AKA The Global Goals or SDG’s) are designed to address the biggest problems we face on this planet.
Under these goals are 169 ambitious targets to indicate what success could look like. Here’s a short video that explains things pretty well:
Achieving these goals, or even coming close, will require that all sectors of society – from private, to government, to everyday consumers – work closely together. Success relies on organisations integrating the goals (and targets) into every objective, and making SDG transparency and performance inherent in day-to-day operations.
To foster long-term success, companies and social enterprises should seamlessly blend their social and environmental performance into their business models, building profitable roadmaps whose purpose is directly aligned with society’s well-being.
According to KPMG, By 2030, demand for ESG policies will lead to mandatory ratings and certifications. As these laws, regulations, and standards are being established globally, businesses need to be prepared to provide transparent and accurate reporting to substantiate the claims they make about their environmental impact.
9 in 10 investors already include or are considering sustainable assets in their portfolio. And 36 percent of all professionally managed assets are sustainable – the last two years alone have seen growth of 15%. Consumer habits, particularly in Australia, have seen a significant shift towards the prioritisation of sustainability goals. Half of all Australian consumers are already actively looking for greener products or services and spurred by profit-driven social innovation, thousands of organisations are stepping up to show us how it’s done.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts within for-profit companies need to evolve from operating as peripheral departments to a shared language that is baked into the company’s core ethos. These enterprise-wide efforts could be driven by pursuing SDGs alongside and in tandem with profit.
Nonprofits, which already create change-making missions, should, in turn, operate as social enterprises, identifying ways to generate sustainable income outside of traditional philanthropy, which can be uncertain at the best of times.
Both nonprofits and private sector businesses should actively seek partnerships with civic organisations to support the legislation required to make SDG-related change happen. Government agencies should make it easier for these organisations to be involved by operating with higher levels of transparency.
We know that these are simple descriptions of really complex processes. Regardless of structure, however, simply including SDGs in operational thinking can help address these challenges and thrive while doing so. Don’t forget that radical transparency can be groundbreaking for progressive outcomes, as it can create opportunities for partnerships with organisations that focus on areas where yours is weak.
B Corps are hardwired to blend purpose with profit. Sustainability efforts play a big role in how we do that. Plus, the B Impact Assessment provides a great toolkit for continuously improving upon these goals over time. All Certified B Corps use the B Impact Assessment to audit social and environmental impact every three years. This provides a flexible roadmap for building a better business that, conveniently, is aligned with the SDGs.
SustainabilityTracker.com is currently in the process of applying for certification, and use its principles to guide our decision making on everything from the clients we pursue to how we generate profit.
We have found that several existing efforts at SustainabilityTracker.com align nicely with the U.N. SDGs. Here are some examples:
Wages and Benefits
By paying all our employees a living wage and offering the best benefits that we can afford, SustainabilityTracker.com addresses SDGs 1 (no poverty), 2 (zero hunger), 3 (good health and well-being), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 10 (reduced inequalities), and 11 (sustainable cities and communities).
We chose The Commons co-working space for our office due to their B Corp certification and commitment to sourcing renewable energy. Through this we are supporting SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy), 11 (sustainable cities and communities), 12 (responsible consumption and production) and 13 (climate action).
By joining 1% for the Planet and committing 1% of our revenue to environmental nonprofits, we support SDGs 6 (clean water and sanitation), 7 (affordable clean energy), 11 (sustainable cities and communities), 12 (responsible consumption and production), 13 (climate action), 14 (life below water), and 15 (life on land).
Our 1% membership also helps us foster productive partnerships with members, which supports SDG 17 (creating strategic SDG partnerships).
Women and Minorities in Leadership
SustainabilityTracker.com is female founded and operated, we’re pro-LGBTQIA+, believe in equal opportunity and are actively pursuing cultural diversity in our staff, supporting SDG 5 (gender equality) and 10 (reduced inequalities).
Finally, by helping values-aligned, mission-driven organisations find success, we support the majority of SDGs in some way.
For many, using sustainable development goals as a business framework can be a new way of thinking about how to run an organisation. Purpose and profit are no longer mutually exclusive but rather woven into the fabric of how a company can and should operate. We’d urge you and your co-workers to start by just taking a look at the Goals, see which ones you already align with, and think about how you now have an opportunity to be more intentional and action-oriented moving forward.
The world of sustainability is always changing. The information we’ve provided is based on what was current when we published it. So, please make sure to check the latest standards and guidelines.