By Mariana Vaz – Swood Team
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 global goals, set by the United Nations General Assembly. Created in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda, they aim to define global priorities and aspirations for 2030 and encourage worldwide action by governments, business, and civil society to eradicate poverty and create a life of dignity and opportunity for all, with respect for the limits of the planet.
The SDGs are widely accepted as a common path for the world’s development and a way to make this struggle easier for everyone by clarifying which pillars to move towards a more just and respectful society. By setting goals based on an idea of progress combined with responsible action, the 2030 Agenda reinforces the commitment to a sustainable stance by private sector organizations. As stated by Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations at the time of the launch of the SDGs, “Companies are a vital partner in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Companies can contribute through their core activities.”
First of all, it is essential to understand the Sustainable Development Goals, which can be easily accessed at www.ods.pt/. However, within each of the 17 goals are several specific targets that are action-oriented and that simplify the steps needed to achieve the goals.
However, not all 17 SDGs will be equally relevant for all companies. It is essential that, once they are known, they are analyzed in order to understand which ones the company will be able to better act on because they are more relevant in its value chain.
The whole society wins when working with a focus on the SDGs, but companies can, by implementing them in their activity as a management tool, discover a new way to position themselves in society and shape, guide, communicate and report their strategies, goals and activities. These organizations will also be better able to position themselves for future needs and identify business opportunities in growing markets that could benefit from innovative solutions to emerging needs. They will, therefore, strive to stabilize societies and markets, safeguarding business success in thriving societies with regulated markets, transparent financial systems, and non-corrupt and efficiently managed institutions.
Increasing the value of corporate sustainability, through economic incentives for more efficient use of resources and greater control of external factors to a company or industry, will also be an advantage of integrating these goals into the mission of companies.
Another parameter that can benefit from the attention to the SDGs is the relationships that companies have with their stakeholders. The integration of the SDGs allows the company to keep pace with the development of various public policies and global needs in order to anticipate new opportunities and risk management. The SDGs also allow for the uniformity of language and purpose in order to use a more effective communication regarding their impacts and performance. The stakeholder relations can also benefit greatly from the integration of the SDGs, as they will allow you to keep pace with the development of public policies, anticipate legal and reputational risk management, and use the same language and a common purpose for more effective communication about your impacts and performance.
Thus, the Sustainable Development Goals reinforce the importance of companies adopting sustainable practices, which are increasingly demanded by consumers and investors. We all have a duty to contribute to the world we live in as individuals, but also as organizations, which accumulate means and responsibilities towards the environment and society.