>>The UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals: What do they mean for your business?

The UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals: What do they mean for your business?

2019-12-18T10:10:08+01:00 16th December 2019|Environment and sustainability|

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals set us on course for a more sustainable development, for both humans and the planet we inhabit.

On September the 25th, 2015, at the UN summit in New York, heads of state and government leaders from around the world laid out the objective that citizens, businesses and government authorities alike must increasingly create ongoing sustainable solutions and support a sustainable future.

These goals for future sustainable development, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), were adopted by no fewer than 193 member states and entered into effect on January the 1st, 2016. They detail specific objectives to be achieved within the coming years, by 2030 at the latest.

With these objectives therefore, demand for sustainable solutions has been formalized on a global scale, creating some unique opportunities for business – opportunities that require focus and coordinated efforts in order to be seized.

What are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals consist of 17 goals and 169 targets which commit all 193 UN member states to completely eradicating poverty and hunger in the world, reducing inequality, guaranteeing good education and better health for all, as well as ensuring decent jobs and more sustainable economic growth. They also focus on promoting peace and security, robust institutions, and strengthening international partnerships.

The adopted agenda therefore recognises that social, economic and environmental development, peace, security and international cooperation is closely linked, and that integrated efforts are required in order to achieve sustainable development results.

  1. End poverty in all forms, everywhere.
  2. Stop hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition, and support sustainable agriculture.
  3. Promote health and well-being for everyone of all ages.
  4. Promote quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.
  5. Achieve gender equality and strengthen the rights and opportunities of women and girls.
  6. Promote access to, and sustainable management of, clean water and sanitation for all.
  7. Promote access to cheap, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
  8. Promote long-lasting, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent jobs for all.
  9. Build a resilient infrastructure, support inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and promote innovation.
  10. Reduce inequality within and between countries.
  11. Make cities and local communities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
  12. Promote responsible consumption and production.
  13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact.
  14. Life in the sea. Preserve and secure the sustainable use of the world’s oceans and ocean-based resources.
  15. Life on land. Protect, restore and support the sustainable use of ecosystems and forests, combat desertification, stop land degradation and biodiversity loss.
  16. Build more peaceful and inclusive societies, ensure access to justice for all, and build effective, responsible and robust institutions at every level.
  17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development.

The Sustainable Development Goals apply to all countries

All countries must contribute – both the rich and the poor. Today we face many challenges, including social, economic and political marginalisation, rising youth unemployment, inequality, poverty, food insecurity, lack of or unequal access to basic natural resources, environmental pollution, climate change and non-responsive governments. They are all national challenges with major regional and global consequences, therefore need to be solved collaboratively.

Each country is expected to take ownership and establish its own international framework for meeting the UN’s global goals. Implementation and success therefore depend on the individual countries’ own action plans and programmes with regards to the goals.

Businesses need to engage and focus on the goals

Although some consider it to be the responsibility of the government alone to implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, it is important that businesses become engaged now, and are focused on the goals, and at the same time see it as their responsibility to contribute.

For the businesses already setting targets in relation to the 17 global goals, benefits include the fact that these companies will win out over competitors whose businesses have remained unchanged when the new regulations come into force. And it is not a question of whether new regulations are being introduced; it is a matter of how quickly they will be introduced. Several countries and governments have already presented their action plans for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Consumers want brands that make a difference

There are also benefits for individual businesses who take responsibility in terms of branding. PWC’s study  Make it your business: Engaging with the Sustainable Development Goals shows that businesses must not underestimate the opinions of the public – as 90% of the public believe it to be important that businesses commit to the Sustainable Development Goals, just as 8% say they would be more inclined to purchase goods and services from businesses participating in these global objectives. This then goes to show that consumers are interested in the brands that make a big difference, and use their purchasing power to accelerate the changes they want to see. To be able to tell the story of your company and its contribution to the global achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals is one way you can differentiate yourself from your competitors.1

How do we turn these goals into actions and results?

For many businesses, it might seem difficult to turn these abstract objectives into concrete actions and subsequently integrate them into the corporate strategy. Finding the capacity and resources for the task can be particularly tricky for small and medium-sized enterprises. Nevertheless, it is important to identify the 17 Sustainable Development Goals within business aims, so that it becomes embedded within the company to focus on sustainability and to work towards achieving these global goals. But how do we turn the goals into actions and results?

There are many possibilities – but it is precisely by using the Sustainable Development Goals as a lever for the development of innovative business ideas that the chance of one’s innovation efforts meeting global market needs is made that much greater.

Sustainable Development Goals and business goals go hand in hand

It is becoming clear for a number of businesses, that there is not necessarily a dichotomy between running a business and contributing to a better world.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals have been a real global starting point for countries and businesses with the capabilities and potential to deliver solutions, helping to honour the objectives of ensuring good education and health for all, managing environmental challenges, reducing inequality and promoting equality, job creation, and sustainable economic growth and consumption.

How can my business incorporate the Sustainable Development Goals?

To help businesses, GRI, the UN and WBCSD have together developed a 5 step guide, using the tool: SDG Compass: The Guide for business action on the SDGs.

This is a guide for businesses on how to adapt their strategy and measure their input towards the Sustainable Development Goals. The guide details 5 steps to follow that business will find useful in order to contribute to these global goals.

The guidance process is iterative, but the 5 steps deal with:

Step 1: Understanding the Sustainable Development Goals in relation to your own business.

Step 2: Defining priorities based on the opportunities your business has, in relation to the global objectives.

Step 3: Setting some goals in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and your own business goals.

Step 4: Integrating this into your core business.

Step 5: Reporting and communicating to your stakeholders to demonstrate your standpoint in relation to sustainable development.

What is Scanlux Packaging doing to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals?

Like other industries, the packaging industry has a significant responsibility in contributing to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Sustainable packaging starts with the origin of the materials, the design, the production itself, and extends throughout transport to retailers and further on to the consumer, before ending up as the recycling of packaging materials, which is in turn re-routed back into the value chain and the market. Sustainability must be a consideration throughout the entire value chain.

Scanlux Packaging have embedded sustainable development deeply into their core business and will continue to work on environmentally-friendly solutions throughout the value chain going forward. We therefore consider it vital that we continue to work on our contribution towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

We work continuously, actively and systematically to minimize impact on the external environment wherever technically and economically possible, and do our best to be considerate of nature and the environment throughout all of our processes. We only work with suppliers that comply with our environmental policy.

Scanlux Packaging has been FSC®certified since 2016. One of the most important materials included in our products is wood. Choosing FSC®certified packaging helps to promote responsible forest management and to safeguard the nature and social conditions in the forests from which the wood originates. In an FSC® certified forest, not only are the vulnerable natural areas protected, but new areas of forest are planted again after being felled. This contributes to the forest being CO2 neutral.

With the international environmental management ISO 14001, Scanlux Packaging has also ensured not only that environmentally responsible products come out of production, but also that environmental awareness is high throughout the entire working process.

Scanlux Packaging’s suppliers are also obliged to adhere to a code of conduct that reflects our ethical guidelines. It means a great deal to us that, through our contracts and communications, we ensure that our supply chain meets our standards and guidelines, in the knowledge that legislation and cultural difference around the world can mean different conditions.

You can read more here about our environmental policy and Code of Conduct.