Are Sustainable Development Goals Good for Business?

In 2015 all the members of the United Nations adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the heart of their 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These goals include targets for humanity as well as for the environment and the planet.

While it may be tempting to ignore the progress of these goals, leaving them to national governments to resolve, the urgency of their call-to-action highlights to all of us that they can’t be ignored. Instead, we all need to contribute to achieving them, with businesses playing a significant role in providing viable and profitable solutions.

SME Businesses Impact Sustainability

And it’s not just about big business; SMEs need to respond too. As a small business owner, it may be tempting to leave it to more prominent companies to resolve; however, SMEs account for 61% of employment and 52% of turnover in the UK private sector. This means that, as a collective, small and medium-sized businesses can make a significant impact.

Every business is different in how it impacts society and the environment. For many SMEs in the current climate, there is an obvious focus on prioritising short-term issues, leaving longer-term sustainability concerns on the backburner. Instead, issues such as maintaining the sales pipeline, keeping the fleet of vehicles on the road or, of late, trying to keep the business going through highly volatile conditions and uncertainty will seem more pertinent.

Although these issues may seem important today, for the long-term viability of each business, preparations need to be made for the changes that will inevitably be imposed upon us in the future. These changes may be regulations, availability or cost of goods, financing conditions or customer demands and expectations. All will need careful planning and budgeting.

Sustainability Break-even Goals to Attain

The good news is that various organisations offer companies support and guidance, helping them assess and prioritise any changes that need to be accommodated. One of these organisations is the Future-fit Foundation, a not-for-profit, which has developed the Business Benchmark. The Business Benchmark enables businesses to review and assess their operation and determine which Break-even Goals need to be the focus for the company.

As the name implies, the Break-even Goals are goals that enable companies to ‘break even’ when addressing their societal and environmental impact. These goals are linked to the SDGs. Just as ‘break-even’ in financial terms means no profit, no loss, in sustainability terms, it means doing no harm to people or the planet but not improving them either.

The Business Benchmark is designed for any business to use but can be quite a lot of paperwork for an SME business with limited resources to utilise.

Free SME Sustainability Support

With support from Future-Fit Foundation, Virgin Money has stepped up and developed an SME version of the Business Benchmark. This version can be completed in less than 30 minutes, producing a scored and prioritised report of appropriate Break-even Goals to focus on.

There are 23 Break-even Goals, and Future-Fit has produced a guide for each explaining how the goal has been derived, which SDGs it supports and how to gauge measurable progress towards achievement.

The best feature of the Business Benchmark, the Break-even Goals Guides and other support material from the Future-Fit Foundation, is that it is all free.

The chances are that businesses, especially the smaller ones, will appreciate assistance and support to fulfil their sustainability objectives. This can be achieved by becoming a Future-Fit Pioneer or employing one of their Certified Professionals. Becoming a Pioneer enables you to join a community of other businesses where help can be obtained, either from fellow Pioneer businesses or the Future-Fit team. That’s where companies like ours can help. DJH Sustainability work alongside you as a partner to reduce the stress of building a sustainable future. David Harman is a member of the Future-Fit Changemaker Community and is well placed to assist you in taking up the sustainability challenge and explain how Future-Fit can help.

The Sustainable Development Goals are set to be achieved by 2030; less than a decade to go. Contributing to their achievement is possible. As a responsible business, will you take up the challenge? Book a short, no-obligation call with us to discover more.