Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals A challenge for business too

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Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals A challenge for business too
Achieving the
Development Goals
A challenge for business too
193 UN member states have agreed to adopt 17 global goals.
Expectation is high that business can make a significant
contribution to help achieve the goals. But what are the first steps?
Government goals… why now? And why should
business take notice?
We’re entering a pivotal time in
human history in which the tide
could turn on the world’s most
pressing social, economic and
environmental issues. The
Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs) have now been agreed by
the 193 UN member states, and
the way we do business has the
potential to fundamentally shift.
A new demand for assessment
and accountability could drive
real change across the business
community, with a sense check
against impact on society.
In 2000, when the UN adopted its
Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs), the term sustainability meant
very little to most companies. At best it
was seen as a way of cutting energy
costs through more efficient buildings or
initiatives to recycle waste. At worst it
was employed as a smokescreen for
companies to fund minor socially
conscious projects while they carried on
business as usual.
The MDGs were ambitious for their time
and can be said to have been broadly
successful. They galvanised
international support and focused
resources and were recognised as a
great ‘brand’. There were some high
profile key successes, for example:
extreme poverty has been halved in
15 years; and over 2 billion more people
have access to clean drinking water.
However, there was regression in
relation to some key areas such as
deforestation and biodiversity (part of
MDG 7: Ensure environmental
sustainability). There were some key
gaps in coverage of the MDGs, for
example: climate, conflict, inequality,
human rights and economic
development. Development progress in
some key areas covered by the MDGs
suffered ultimately from a lack of
ownership, a lack of integration and a
lack of underlying process to drive and
measure change. The MDGs were seen as
an aspiration for the developing world
and, because of that, only a few global
businesses gave them their full attention.
2 | Engaging with the Sustainable Development Goals | PwC
Introducing the
Global Goals
The SDGs (see Figure 1: The Global
Goals) are seen as the heir to the MDGs,
in reality, they are very different. The
17 SDGs (also know as the Global Goals)
have been deliberately drawn up to
move away from a development
perspective and reflect the broader
issues that drive good growth, focusing
on economic and environmental factors,
as well as social dimensions. They are
completely transportable between the
developed and developing world and
hence relevant for every global
company. The agenda is transformative:
they address both gaps in coverage of
the MDGs and the underlying problems.
There are specific Global Goals that aim
to put in place policies, institutions and
systems necessary to generate sustained
investment and growth.
There could be no better moment than
now for the United Nations to launch the
SDGs as a roadmap for good business
growth for the next 15 years. The
business landscape has changed a great
deal over the last 15 years, shaped and
disrupted by globalisation, intense
competition for raw materials and
natural resources, a growing consensus
about climate change, increasing
urbanisation and a revolution in
technology that is challenging the
business models of many sectors while
forcing all companies to be more
accountable to, and more transparent
with, all of their stakeholders.
Figure 1: The Global Goals
Source: Global Goals, www.globalgoals.org
Today, in a growing number of global
companies, sustainability is no longer a
side issue. Faced with a future of
uncertain energy costs, looming
regulation on carbon emissions, real
concerns about access to raw materials
and availability of natural resources like
water, business is waking up to the
reality that environmental management
and planning is a key consideration. At
the same time companies are coming
under ever greater scrutiny from
consumers, NGOs, the media and their
own employees (fuelled by the explosion
in online social networking) about their
treatment of workers, the sourcing and
quality of their products and their
corporate culture. Taken together,
environmental and social responsibility
can be seen not as a concern just for risk
and reputation management but rather
as a core driver of how smart, modern
companies must develop, offering
opportunities to be product, service and
market leaders.
Why should business
really care?
The SDGs are a product of two years of
multi-stakeholder negotiation which
have included business/private sector,
and all 193 UN member states have
committed to achieving them.
While the SDGs are not legally binding
on member states they will act as the de
facto road map for regulation and will
drive the implementation of national
policies and incentives to see them
succeed. We believe that when global
companies align with the SDGs they will
have a clearer view on how their
business helps or hinders a government
to achieve its goals, and the opportunity
to evidence and maintain their license to
operate in compliant countries. We
think they’ll also have a competitive
advantage over those companies that
don’t understand their contribution or
use the knowledge to revise their
strategies accordingly.
Quick thoughts
Global issues
require global
action to tackle –
193 UN
nations agree
MDGs viewed as
social issues for
countries – little
SDGs pitched at
economic and
issues as well as
social, and for
the world
Global Goals
viewed as a
roadmap for good
Smart businesses
plan to engage –
being goal congruent
makes sense
PwC | Engaging with the Sustainable Development Goals | 3
How is business engaging
Our PwC SDG Engagement Survey 20151,
reveals high awareness of the SDGs
(92% amongst the business community
versus 31% amongst citizens) and
considerable ambition to support them
with 71% of business participants saying
they are already planning how they will
respond to them.
There are already examples of
corporates coming forward to make
public commitments as to what they
intend to do to help in the collective
achievement of the SDGs.
More than 300 CEO’s, Heads of State,
United Nations and civil society leaders
attended September’s UN Private Sector
Forum to discuss the role of business in
implementing the Global Goals.
Emerging from the Private Sector Forum
were announcements of more than 35
corporate commitments to benchmark
sustainable development actions,
including investment in low-carbon
infrastructure, combatting corruption,
gender equality in the workplace, access
to and strengthening of healthcare
services in the Least Developed
Countries and more.
Virgin’s founder, Richard Branson, has
spoken out4 in support of SDG 8, which
seeks to ‘promote sustained, inclusive
and sustainable economic growth,
full and productive employment and
decent work for all’ and gives business a
chance to prove they can be a force for
good by supporting the creation of a
thriving economy for people and the
A number of corporate household
names, such as Aviva, Google, Pearson,
Standard Chartered, Unilever and
Virgin are founding partners of Project
Everyone3, the initiative by Richard
Curtis, film director and founder of Red
Nose Day and Make Poverty History,
which aims to bring the SDGs to every
person around the world in 2015.
This early activity is encouraging as
90% of citizens in our survey thought
it important that business sign up to
the SDGs.
Practical implications for business
In an ideal world, within the next two to
five years every business will know how
their activities and the consequences of
them (even the unforeseen elements),
map across to the Global Goals.
In the longer term, their operations will
have identified, valued and be measuring
how they contribute to each SDG,
monitoring their impact, and implementing
new ideas to effect improvement. SDG
impact awareness wouldn’t be confined
to a specific showcase project, but be
embedded in a new way of working that
prioritises the impact on SDGs alongside
business objectives.
A new way of thinking and adapting
skills and resources are required to
engage with the SDGs. It’s investment
now for long term benefit that will drive
significant change (Figure 2: Driving a
new best practice).
For business to see the benefits from all
this activity to align with the SDGs,
significant internal engagement is
required with great inter-team
communication and collaboration. In
itself, this will require strong commitment
and leadership from the top.
Figure 2: Driving a new best practice
internally and to
Goal setting
Using outcomes
in strategy
Identifying how
business activities
impact on the SDGs
the coming
years, we’ll see a
new approach and set
of working practices
become embedded in
BAU to support the
achievement of the
SDGs, including
Make it your business: Engaging with the Sustainable Development Goals, PwC (September 2015)
The three SDGs Phillips is focusing on for a better world, The Guardian (August 2015)
4 | Engaging with the Sustainable Development Goals | PwC
Dialogue with
governments on
SDG ambitions
data requirements
and identifying
suitable relevant
data to collect
Data collection
and data
Quantifying and
valuing business
Where to start?
The SDGs cover 17 different issues and
come with 169 targets and a whole set of
(evolving) indicators. There is much to
do to establish your starting point
which will no doubt generate much
debate. (See Figure 3: Engaging with the
Global Goals).
There is much to consider about
measurement too – its coverage and
frequency, the communication of results
within the organisation and how it feeds
into strategy development. How all this
data is managed and reported internally
and beyond will also require
considerable discussion.
And, when it comes to ambition, it’s on a
spectrum – using the outcomes from an
impact assessment to change business
strategy, is the ultimate goal.
Figure 3: Engaging with the Global Goals
Mapping your business
activities to the Global Goals,
do you…
Determining which Global
Goals to look into, do you…
a. review them all?
a. consider them all?
b. review all the relevant ones?
b. consider the obvious ones for
your industry?
c. review some of the relevant ones?
c. consider the easiest ones where
you can make the strongest
d. consider the ones that will give
you the best media story?
Assessing the impact of your
business, do you…
Reviewing which countries to
include, do you…
a. include the whole of your
business and value chain?
a. consider them all?
b. include just your direct business?
c. include your key operations?
d. include parts of the business that
drive impact on some SDGs?
e. include only specific projects?
b. consider only the ones in your
new markets?
c. consider only the ones in
developing countries?
d. consider only the ones in
countries you need to make
the greatest positive impression
or impact?
Quick thoughts
Many businesses
have real ambition
to support the
Global Goals
Engaging with the
SDGs requires an
understanding of
where your
actions will have
most impact
Internal buy in is
crucial to success
Start as you mean
to go on – get the
ground work right
Your most significant
impacts could be in
your supply chain –
think broadly
PwC | Engaging with the Sustainable Development Goals | 5
Converting ambition into action
and into achievement
We believe that the SDGs are a game
changer for the planet and for
business, but only if the business
community seizes the opportunity and
engages – governments, NGOs and
society can only do so much, it will take
a united effort.
Our PwC SDG Engagement research5
reveals that just 13% of the companies
surveyed have identified the tools that
will help them assess their impact
against the SDGs that are relevant to
their business. This is understandable
considering the newness of the SDGs,
but even in five years, only 30% think
they will have. We recognise that
engagement will be slow without the
basic tools in place to start the process.
The Global Goals Business Navigator
combines our market-leading Total
Impact Measurement and Management
framework (understanding social,
economic, and environmental impacts of
a business) with detailed understanding
of the targets and indicators that underpin
the SDGs. In this way, we aim to help
business assess SDG impacts, define their
priorities and set goals.
With a focus on two early priorities, we
have developed a diagnostic tool (see
Figure 4: Creating insight – Global Goals
Business Navigator), which will give
businesses a quick, replicable and low
cost way to
• identify the Global Goals that are of
most relevance given their countries
and sectors of operation
• evaluate which Global Goals they
can best contribute to
• identify the significant risks
(i.e. where business activities could
hinder governments more than help)
in relation both to core products and
activities and more broadly across the
supply chain, on a country by
country basis
• identify the potential opportunities
(i.e. where business activities could
help significantly more) in relation to
core products and activities and the
wider supply chain, on a country by
country basis
Make it your business: Engaging with the Sustainable
Development Goals, PwC (September 2015)
6 | Engaging with the Sustainable Development Goals | PwC
Figure 4: Creating insight – Global Goals Business Navigator
Set goals and tell
your story
Understand, assess, prioritise
Geographical analysis
a set of global heat maps for each
SDG goal and target
Company analysis
assessing your impact on
the SDGs
What is
it for?
Identify how a country is
performing on each SDG relative
to other countries.
Analysis shows the relative direct
and supply chain importance of
each SDG based on geography
and sector.
Understand how your business’
existing policies and practices
impact on the goals and your
company’s value at risk if the
SDGs are not achieved.
Uses external development and
environmental indicators and
PwC specialist knowledge. This
data will be updated regularly to
incorporate national SDG targets
and indicators as they continue to
be developed.
Our Global Goals Business
Navigator uses Input Output
Modelling to distribute national
SDG scores to constituent sectors
– both to a company’s direct
operations and also within their
supply chain. A weighting is
applied based on expert research
studies and surveys.
We work with you through a
structured discussion of the output
of the Global Goals Business
Navigator to refine the results.
Topics could include:
• Strategic priorities and
sustainability priorities
Key steps
Example output:
Example output:
Ball Sizing
Direct Operations
No Data
No Data
• Identification, measurement
and management of risks and
opportunities in relation to
the Global Goals you prioritise
as key
• Data and measurement
• SDG outcomes vs business
Structured discussion and
interviews refining the output
and building consensus
Indirect Operations
Quick thoughts
Making sense of the
complexity – think
through the basics
Existence of tools is
limited – some
companies have
invested in the
development of
their own tools, but
many are waiting
for independent
tools to emerge
PwC has developed
a diagnostic tool to
help map your
business activities
against the SDGs –
the Global Goals
Business Navigator
Understand the
priority Global
Goals for the
countries in which
you operate and
consider where
you can have
most impact
Industry led
collaboration and
partnerships to
solve sustainable
challenges will gain
momentum – how
can you get involved?
PwC | Engaging with the Sustainable Development Goals | 7
Key contacts
If you would like to find out
more about how your business
is currently impacting upon the
SDGs and how you could shape
your strategy and operations to
make a positive contribution
towards achieving the Global
Goals, please call:
Malcolm Preston
Louise Scott
Partner and Global Sustainability Leader (UK)
Director (UK)
T: +44 (0)20 7213 2502
E: [email protected]
T: +44 (0)20 7804 5068
E: [email protected]
Daniel Dias
Assistant Director (UK)
T: +44 (0)20 7804 5046
E: [email protected]
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