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A New Era for Sustainability

The SDGs are a Call to Action for Strategic Businesses

To date, strategically savvy businesses have done an excellent job of publicizing their sustainability initiatives through voluntary reporting efforts. By focusing on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria, they have done well in preparing for the launch of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs, however, are a quantum leap in how we think about – and more importantly practice – sustainability, and there will be a fundamental transition that businesses must make.

“Sustainability” is changing from a focus on energy efficiency, waste reduction and other similar activities, to a more holistic approach: a total rebalancing of the relationship of business to society and to the environment. The 17 SDG goals, defined by 169 targets and 232 indicators, are a powerful framework for understanding the actions of nations. And, inevitability, the impact of nations on society and the environment are significantly comprised of the actions of industry, and the businesses within them.

Companies that succeed in this environment will be the ones that align their operational strategies with the SDGs, rather than simply report on business as usual. We already see a new generation of businesses whose founders have enshrined this evolved approach to sustainability in their core principles. Established companies who were first movers in embracing ESG reporting already recognize the value of this approach to their business, and, consequently, are securing their competitive advantage in their respective sectors.

In this competitive environment for utilizing the SDGs, companies that don’t embrace them will be left behind.

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