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Sustainability Strategy SDGs

How to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals in your organisation

Every company needs to be sustainable. The best way to structure your sustainability strategy is to use a recognised framework that will guide you on how to build, implement, and measure your sustainability programme. Ideally, such framework would be internationally recognised so that you can easily showcase and benchmark your achievements. Enter the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

The SDGs are “a collection of 17 global goals designed to be a <blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all>. The SDGs, set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and intended to be achieved by the year 2030, are part of UN Resolution 70/1, the 2030 Agenda.”

In short, the SDGs can provide your organisation with a globally recognised framework for measuring your business sustainability. It also gives you a clear business goal to contribute towards over the next 10 years. It is simple: a company’s CSR/sustainability initiatives can often fit within an SDG. Now the question is: how do you include the SDGs in your sustainability strategy?

Becoming Sustainable

Unfortunately, there is no easy and fast solution to the question above. The process varies a lot depending on the size of your organisation, your sustainability team resources, and the way your sustainability strategy is structured. The good news is that implementing SDGs in your organisation is relatively straightforward and can be done through successfully running sustainability programmes with implemented strategies. The SDGs can also be used to guide the creation of those strategies from the very beginning of the process: it all depends where your organisation is on the journey.

Here a few key points which you should consider:

  1. SDG implementation should follow a top-down approach – it needs to take into account all offices and employees. The company leadership needs to research and decide what the business, its clients and employees stand for, and how that relates to the company’s overall strategy and products. The sustainability team then chooses the top priority SDGs. If you are implementing SGDs within your existing sustainability strategy, a good approach might be to map all your previous and current activities, compare them to the framework and decide which are the main ones you want to focus on.
  2. Focus is important: some organisations choose to support as many SDGs as possible, but that can spread their efforts thin, leading to a minimal impact. We would recommend that the ideal number of SDGs you should focus on is between 3 and 7.
  3. If you have followed step 1 correctly, you should see that different offices, teams, and employees care about different things, so it would be only natural to associate and measure those offices’ initiatives against the SDGs that matter to them. Of course, they should all filter down to the core SDGs the whole organisation aims for.
  4. Record and measure. As mentioned in the beginning – it is simple: whatever you do to support the community or environment, you should see what SDG it fits within. Structuring this, however, is a bit harder. You can, of course, try to use Excel spreadsheets, but data accuracy, reporting and time spent on it make it not the best choice. In order to measure in a meaningful way, you need a system/platform which would allow you to associate each office, initiative, and contribution separately to the SDG it supports. This way, you will have a clear vision on how many initiatives you have run, how much money you’ve spent, how much hours your team in every office has given to a specific goal. 
  5. If you have followed step 4, you will enjoy a good structured SDGs report, with clear dashboards and easy to present to your board, as well as externally for marketing initiatives.

(KindLink is the technology platform supporting corporates in managing their CSR, offering features ranging from CSR strategy development and impact reporting to measuring SDGs, employee engagement and volunteering opportunities marketplace)

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