The Sustainable Development Goals made easy
How can your business put sustainability into practice? Since 2015, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been a commitment of ours at Business for Peace. As an advocate of the Goals, we partner with a number of organisations and businesses that are striving towards achieving the SDGs.
It’s a common misconception that the SDGs are only relevant for governments, but that’s not the case. Part of the reason as to why we advocate for the Goals is how easily privately-owned businesses can choose one or more Goals as a part of their business model. The Goals are expansive and have many sub-metrics. However, in order to engage businesses, it is essential that integration and measurement of success is easy and simple.
The United Nations Development Programme’s Business Call to Action (BCtA) is an initiative working on accelerating private sector progress towards the SDGs. We know their work well. In fact, three recent Oslo Business for Peace Award Honourees are members of BCtA: Edgar Montenegro of Corpocampo (Colombia), Dr Agbor Ashumanyi Ako of GiftedMom (Cameroon), and Felicitas “Joji’ Bautista Pantoja of Coffee for Peace (Philippines). Their initiatives are making a large impact across all sectors in their respective countries.
BCtA’s network consists of companies that are commercially successful businesses filling in development gaps across sectors from agriculture to information technology. Their 257 member companies are market leaders that provide examples of successful, profitable and scalable business models that are reaching low-income communities and contributing to global development. These companies are of all sizes, from small and medium enterprises to multinationals like IKEA, and operate in 73 countries across the world.
We talked to BCtA for more practical advice for business leaders interested in working with the Sustainable Development Goals.
How does BCtA support the private sector in advancing progress towards the SDGs?
We work as a global platform advancing inclusive business solutions for development and as a trusted leader in this space, we play a strong role advocating for inclusive business across geographies, sectors and with various actors from the private and public sector. There are several ways BCtA does this. We challenge companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people at the base of the economic pyramid. We also identify and include businesses with a proven record of business and social development success to advance the SDGs. We build awareness via various platforms and publications. And lastly, we provide technical expertise and services through our public tools, workshops, webinars and events.
How has interest in SDG integration developed over the past years among inclusive businesses? Has it grown?
Inclusive business and the SDGs are a natural fit. As inclusive business models are designed from the outset to achieve social impact alongside commercial success, it was a smooth transition for BCtA and its member network of inclusive businesses into SDG integration from early on.
The SDGs are also incorporated in BCtA’s application process, whereby companies applying to become members are able to identify and link relevant SDGs to their business model — this allows for better articulation of their inclusive business activities through an SDG lens.
From a broader business perspective, when the SDGs were launched in 2015, there was limited awareness of what the SDGs meant for the private sector and how they could be integrated into business. In 2020, we see more companies with SDG-linked business targets. This is also a core service and mission of BCtA through the BCtA Impact Lab: to strengthen companies’ understanding of how their business activities impact the SDGs and how they can measure, manage and enhance that impact. Companies are hence encouraged to participate in BCtA’s impact management and measurement trainings once they become members, allowing them better understanding of the impact of their business model in an integrated way.
What does a typical company look like?
One clear common thread we see across every company we talk to and engage with is a dedication to making business work, profitably and at-scale, to improve people’s lives. Our companies are not only champions of sustainability and social impact, but they are business leaders with commercial acumen. We will continue to support such dedicated companies that are thriving in low-income markets and reaching the last mile through innovative solutions.
BCtA has developed tools that are available as public goods online that help companies understand, measure and scale their commercial success and impact. Here are a few of them:
Developed in order to allow companies to identify, measure, and manage their impact.
A practical reference where business leaders can use this as they seek guidance on how to best position their company for future success.
A guide to improve management practices and maximise SDG impact.
The SDG Corporate Tracker is a multi-stakeholder platform to measure Colombia’s private sector progress towards achieving the SDGs by 2030. This tool was established to standardise the measurement of contribution of the business sector in Colombia.
Becoming a member of BCtA means to become a champion of sustainability and social impact, but also committing to being a business leader with the commercial acumen to understand how to make the market for people and the planet. Learn more here.