Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
A new decade to transform threats into opportunities

February 2nd 2020 - Edition #21

We just stepped into a new decade: 10 years away from 2030.

Many expectations have been raised for this decade, when only 10 years separate us from a climate crisis, according to the IPCC’s 2018 warning. Additionally, even if the average poor is stepping up on the Maslow’s pyramid, inequalities have been never so expressive.

In this scenario, instead of letting ourselves be astonished by a state of collective “ecoanxiety”, we need to develop concrete actions to rescue the trust on humanity and save the world that was given to us.

In this tragedy of commons, all of us are affected: citizens, states and companies. This way, we need quick and smart moves, in an undertaking that should be addressed collectively. For this we must have a common language and clear agreed goals for change, that must join all stakeholders in the same table, bring benefits for all and a positive agenda for collective prosperity.

We have good news: this Agenda is already set. They are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), the most inclusive consultation processes the world has ever seen.

No wise businessman should forget to include them in his strategy. But why are they important? Because “businesses cannot be successful in a society that fails”, DMS’s CEO, Feike Sijbesma states. But also because millennials don’t want your greenwashed products or your unpurposeful job anymore. And investors don’t even will include you in their portfolio, unless you comply. SDG’s bring us a common agenda we can trust and look forward to.

Moreover, the only possible business case for the future market leaders is attached to their ability on shaping a new sustainable and fair capitalism, and then, be the first to profit from that. The most powerful source of competitive advantage for the future of markets is called “the sustainable agenda”. Complying with the SDG’s is the smarter, shorter and reliably way for business to do good while “leaving no one behind”.

SDG’s are the first global agenda set for business contribution, able to unlock $12 trillion USD in business opportunities. Actually, more than 70% of businesses in the world are already reporting and mentioning to the SDG’s. However only 25% mention them in their strategic area, and merely 1% measure them with specific KPI’s.

Companies have to move further to benefit from all the advantages SDG’s have to bring as a management tool: 1) a clear set of goals and metrics, targetable and measurable, 2) an ability to bring a platform for cross-sector partnerships and freedom on the “how-to-achieve-them”, 3) fitness to the business world and 4) adaptability either to developed and developing world.

Some blueprints, like the Global Compass, can help our companies on this move. They emphasize that the most important step on this process is to put SDG’s in the heart of our company’s strategy, choose a few goals that are really material to our business (instead of randomly trying to report in all of them) and actively act on them with no fear of partnerships.

Business used to look at SDG’s very defensively. That time is over! The next 10 years are an incredible opportunity to save our planet and build a fairer society. A decade to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, where companies have the remarkable chance to move beyond and lead the markets of the future.

If they really want to leave their mark on the world, there is no alternative (WEF).

Have a great and impactful week!

Filipa Pires de Almeida
Center for Responsible Business and Leadership

The Center for Responsible Business & Leadership has the main purpose of contributing for Sustainability and Responsible Leadership to become part of the “way we do things in our planet”. Find out more here.

"Have a Great and Impactful Week!" is the weekly newsletter from CATÓLICA-LISBON's Center for Responsible Business & Leadership. You can subscribe to "Have a Great and Impactful Week!" here

"Have a Great and Impactful Week!" is sent out every Sunday at 5PM, bringing new insights on the world of corporate responsibility, sustainability and responsible leadership. It is often signed by the Center's Executive Director, Nuno Moreira da Cruz.