On September 2015, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by the next 15 years. This provides an unprecedented opportunity to shift the world onto a path of inclusive, sustainable and resilient development. It would be hard to drive such development forward without business being on board. The degree and speed with which companies around the world develop more sustainable business models and partner with development actors will play a large role in the success of achieving the SDGs. In turn, all companies are impacted by the challenges that the SDGs address. For companies, successful implementation of the SDGs will strengthen the environment for doing business and building markets around the world.
Two critical business imperatives stand out to encourage UN- business engagement in the achievement of the SDGs:
- Firstly, businesses that align and engage their strategy with national priorities will most likely be given their license to operate, by governments and citizens alike those that do not. Companies that contribute towards the achievement of the SDGs will also have a competitive advantage over those that don’t understand their contribution or use the knowledge to revise their strategies respectively. According to the Pwc SGD Engagement Survey of 2015, 90% of citizens believe it is important that business signs up to the SDGs and the 78% said they were more likely to buy the goods and services of companies that had signed up to the SDGs.
- Secondly, Governments are already using the SDGs to inform development of policy and regulation. Those businesses that are aware of and aligned with the SDGs are more likely to have alignment with emerging policy, giving them more resilient business models.
The case is clear for companies to get involved by doing business responsibly and pursuing partnership opportunities with the United Nations to solve global challenges through innovation, investment and collaboration. While business is central to growth, productivity, innovation and job creation – all drivers for progress at scale – the UN counts with a unique position and universal mandate to support global issues. Through combining our distinct but complementary resources, technology, skills and networks, the United Nations can work with the private sector towards common objectives such as building inclusive markets, combating environmental sustainability, improving food security and promoting social inclusion.