What are they?
The Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs) are global goals set by the United Nations to work towards a better, more sustainable world. There are 17 goals in total, ranging from reducing poverty over decent work and economic growth all the way to peace, justice and strong institutions. The UN Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the Global Goals, build on the successes of the Millenium Development Goals (MDG) which drove progress to tackle extreme poverty and hunger for 15 years.
Why are they relevant for your business?
On the surface, it may seem like these goals exist on too large of a scale for small and medium businesses to become involved with them. For some of the goals, this might be the case – unless you are working in very specific sectors, your direct impact on peace and justice may be minimal, though you can still influence these goals indirectly.
However, this doesn’t mean that the goals aren’t relevant; it simply means that to get the most out of using them in your business, you need to be clear on what your company – and you – stand for. The SDGs can give you a framework to define what you care about the most, providing you with a common language to express your own goals and put them into a larger context.
What is Scotland’s stance on the SDGs?
Scotland was one of the first countries in the world to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals, all the way back in July 2015. The SDG Network Scotland was created to raise awareness of the goals with businesses and the public, and to help us along the road to achieving the 17 goals by 2030. An independent report from July 2019 has shown that while there is progress, a lot more work needs to be done.
How does Beyond Green use the SDGs?
Each of us has chosen one or two SDGs that we feel most strongly about and that we want to dedicate time and effort contributing towards, in and outside of the office. Our website portraits include us holding up the goals as a way of showing our commitment to this ambition.
We have also recently started tracking our performance against the goals in our yearly report; you can find the report for 2019 here.
How can we help you build the SDGs into your business?
We have run workshops based on the SDGs before; our clients have found them tremendously helpful in getting staff engaged and involved. Having a conversation around SDGs and how they relate to your work can clarify the positive impact you can have, what your team cares about the most, and which areas your company may need to address. This could be things like improving accessibility to your services, contributing to carbon reduction, or investigating how technology can support your internal processes.
GHI Contracts Ltd, about our use of SDGs in a workshop
They inspired us to be aware of the bigger picture while understanding the impacts on our business.
What is key is to take the conversation forward into your business strategy; the beauty of the goals is that they complement each other and don’t stand in competition. It is this cumulative effect that will create value to your business in terms of profitability, reduced risks and improved reputation.
We can also help you use SDGs as a way to report on your sustainability journey as a company. A lot of the time it can be difficult to find the best way to convey your progress to your clients, employees and regulators without overly technical language. We can help you use the SDGs as a way to present your improvements in an easy to understand way.