The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) hold great possibilities for businesses. While perhaps the largest audience for the SDGs are government entities, businesses can contribute in three important ways: as engines of employment; through technological innovation; and as sources of finance.
That’s according to WBCSD directors Filippo Veglio and James Gomme, who moderated a GreenBiz tutorial on the topic run mostly by members of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development on Tuesday at GreenBiz 18 in Phoenix.
To realize these possibilities, of course, businesses must desire to engage with the Global Goals, as the SDGs are also known, and to embrace them as part of their identity and strategic vision. Those that do so likely recognize the risks of inaction or see the opportunity in being proactive.
Risks include operational risk, regulatory risk, reputational risk or risks of market disruption. Risks were elaborated by Jilene Connor Belopotsky of Earth Security Group, a consultancy that helps companies focus on the most material or relevant SDGs goals and targets. Recent trends associated with the encroachment of planetary boundaries are forcing companies to think more systematically than ever before, she said.
Opportunities, on the other hand include: new markets; enhanced reputation; staying ahead of the curve; and obtaining a license to operate in various countries. The Business & Sustainable Development Commission’s Better Business, Better World report, which sees a $12 trillion-per-year opportunity, spells out the business case.
Businesses that incorporate the Global Goals usually begin by using them as outputs, as a way to highlight what they are already doing, that aligns with one or more of the 17 goals. The use of SDGs as inputs, as part of corporate target-setting, tends to come later. Not all goals are material to all businesses. (…)
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