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UN Sustainable Development Goals

In September 2015, world leaders gathered at a special summit on sustainable development at United Nations headquarters in New York. Their objectives were to endorse 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); goals that the UN Secretary General asserts signal a ‘paradigm shift for people and the planet’. Development of the SDGs potentially offers a new way forward for development policy and practice, with an emphasis on a broad range of global goals and targets for the world to aim for by 2030 (Scheyvens et al, 2016).

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) define global sustainable development priorities and aspirations for 2030 and seek to mobilize global efforts around a common set of goals and targets. The SDGs call for worldwide action among governments, business and civil society to end poverty and create a life of dignity and opportunity for all, within the boundaries of the planet (SDG Compass, 2017).

As businesses work to align their strategy toward supporting the UN Sustainabilty Development Goals, they are also working towards becoming a conscious brand. A conscious brand or company uses guiding principles such as:

  • Existing for a bigger reason than self, (a higher purpose);
  • Transparent and in high-integrity to its purpose;
  • Aware of all its stakeholder impact;
  • Committed to expanding its awareness of its impact;
  • Actively confronts disconnects, constantly moving towards harmony.

For example if a business chooses SDG #5 – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, companies can use the following steps to measure or track its impact:

  • Understanding the SDGs
  • Assessing your impact and defining your priorities
  • Setting ambitious goals
  • Reporting and communicating transarently about the results

Initially, companies can familiarize themselves with the SDGs. Companies are encouraged to define their priorities based on an assessment of their positive, negative, current and potential impacts on the SDGs across their value chains. Goal setting is vital to business success and aids in fostering shared priorities and better performance across organizations. By aligning company goals with the SDGs, the leadership team can demonstrate the company’s commitment to sustainable development. Integrating sustainability into the core business and governance, and embedding sustainable development targets across all functions within the company, is key to achieving goals set. To pursue shared objectives or address systemic challenges, companies increasingly engage in partnerships across the value chain, within their sector or with governments and civil society organizations. The SDGs allow companies to report information on sustainable development performance using common indicators and a shared set of priorities. The SDG Compass encourages companies to build the SDGs into their communication and reporting with stakeholders. (SDG Compass, 2017)

To find out more about the UN Sustainabilty Development Goals and how to intergrate them into your business, you can read the full report here or get in touch with the Concsious Brands team for some extra guidance.


Guest Blog Post by Nicole Sagan

Nicole is an environmental professional whom most recently graduated from the Environment & Sustainability Master’s program at the University of Western Ontario; she completed the program to supplement her B. Sc in Environmental Science from Royal Roads University. She is currently back in Calgary navigating her next career move and keeps herself busy volunteering as a board member of the Calgary Horticultural Society and as a Coordinator for the Alberta Chapter of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals.

References:
Scheyvens, R., Bank, G., Hughes, E. (2016) The Private Sector and the SDGs: The Need to Move Beyond ‘Business as Usual’. Sustainable Development. 24, 371-382 (2016).
SDG Compass. (2017) The guide to business action on the SDGs. Retrieved from: (http://sdgcompass.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/019104_SDG_Compass_Guide_2015.pdf)

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