The United Nations (UN) adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 with the deadline to have it all in place by 2030. The 17 SDGs on 20230’s agenda are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – to achieve strategies that improve peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and in the future. The key to achieving these SDGs is by strongly committing to global partnerships. As a profitable business, it’s important to commit to the SDG Goals of the UN and to start achieving the 17 goals within your company. This post is about how Corporate and Social Responsibility can help and facilitate your business in reaching the SDG Goals.
Let’s first sum up the 17 SDGs that should be achieved by 2030, and after that, I will sum up which Sustainable Development Goals can be achieved with CSR and how.
17 Sustainable Development Goals:
- End poverty in all its forms everywhere
- End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
- Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
- Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
- Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
- Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
- Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
- Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
- Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
- Reduce inequality within and among countries
- Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
- Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
- Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
- Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
- Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
- Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
- Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development
The plan for 2030
These 17 goals should be achieved by 2030, which is not too long from now if you’d compare it to the starting date (2015, already 8 years ago). This is your call to action to develop your plans today to maintain achieving your goals by 2030. And the amazing news is: CSR can be the key to fulfilling 13 out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Getting started with shaping and developing your Corporate and Social Responsibility is key to a successful future. And to achieve these goals, collaboration is key. CSR is the perfect way to develop collaborations that succeed in reaching your SDGs. In the next part, I will explain for each SDG how you can reach your goals by developing your business’s CSR.
CSR can be the key to fulfilling 13 out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
How CSR can help businesses achieve the SDGs
1. No poverty
The number one SDG is one of the most important but definitely one of the most difficult ones to work on. But it is doable to make a difference in this field of work. It is essential to focus on fair wages first. As a company, map the current situation within your production process and see where you can make steps according to wages. You may start working together with organizations worldwide that strive for fair conditions if your production processes are partly outsourced. But poverty isn’t limited to loans only. Try to find ways to support people in other methods such as health & care support, developing food programs, supporting education, or developing programs aiming to provide a better future for themselves. Another supportive program to work towards no poverty is micro-crediting. Collaborate with one of the many organizations that researched the successful ways of contributing through micro-credits.
To sum it up for SDG number one:
- Focus on fair wages at first, and investigate your production processes (especially when it’s partly outsourced)
- Don’t limit the Development Goal to loans only; find ways to support people in other ways: health & care support, developing food programs, education, and micro-crediting.
2. Zero hunger
Working on Sustainability Development Goal achieving zero hunger is a very concrete goal to reach by implementing a CSR partnership. To fight hunger in the world, it’s good to start investing in constructive food programs. You may think of cultivation and harvesting programs that support local communities’ development. This way, you support the fight against hunger through structural changes, where developing countries can grow towards a self-sufficient system. This work is future-proof and a sustainable solution.
Next to constructive food programs, there is an extreme need for food assistance at emergency locations. Plan to help out in situations where humanitarian organizations are active, where being self-sufficient is not an option. Food assistance closer to home may also be necessary to fight hunger – by supporting and collaborating with local Food Banks or Soup Kitchens.
- When working on SDG number 2, focus your CSR on constructive food programs, emergency food assistance, and supporting food banks.
3. Good health and well-being
Reaching the goal of achieving good health and well-being worldwide, the options for CSR are numerous. I will sum up some of the best ways to collaborate in achieving this goal:
- Collaborate with a (digital) platform or organization that supports mental health and fights depression (for employees internally or supporting groups outside your organization.
- Support health organizations that fight big-scale health problems that affect day-to-day health such as HIV, tuberculosis, or malaria.
- Work together with an organization that enables children to play, do sports and have fun. This will have a tremendous effect on their lives today and will set the standard for their future.
- Collaborate with organizations that fight loneliness at all ages. You help them by supporting their activities, organizing (digital) meet-ups, and providing them with supplies or locations that help bring people together.
4. Quality Education
Building on SDG number 4, quality education, is the key to the world’s future and therefore one to definitely add to your CSR strategy. Here are five ways to support quality education worldwide in a constructive and sustainable way.
- Advocate for increased funding for schools at all levels, because with funding the facilities of schools can be improved and kids can focus on their education. You can support good school buildings, quality furniture, educational supplies, and sanitary facilities for girls and boys.
- Support the improvement of teacher quality, as this has a tremendous effect on the students and their education.
- Promote the use of technology in the classroom. This will prepare children to be skilled and qualified for today’s working environment. Computers, computer programs, and iPads are devices they will be working with on a daily basis in their future.
- Encourage parental involvement in their child’s education, as in many countries the parents have all the power to decide whether their kid goes to school or not. With parental involvement, they see the urge for education for their children and their own future, and parents will most likely not take the kids out of school in order to work. Encouraging parental involvement protects children from drop-out and child labor.
- Support after-school and summer learning programs, to develop quality education even more. This is especially helpful for students that have a small backlog due to circumstances, as they have the possibility to keep up, develop themselves and keep the motivation to continuously go to school and finish their educational journey.
There are tremendous non-profit organizations to partner up with in developing quality education worldwide.
5. Gender equality
Striving for gender equality starts within your own company, but is definitely not limited to your own power. Therefore it is good to spend CSR budget on a partner that aims for more gender equality worldwide. I will list examples of fields of work that strongly support gender equality:
- Empowering girls by making them stronger, both verbally, mentally, and physically. Striving to give them a life free from violence and in peace.
- Educate girls and women to reach the same level of education as boys/men.
- Support women’s rights in countries where differences in rights between men and women still (strongly) exist. Fighting slavery and underage prostitution of girls, child labor, and striving for the possibility to vote.
- Give supplies and opportunities for girls and women to continue their education or work during their period, or pregnancy.
Gender equality may differ from country to country, so it is important to shape your CSR plans for the country/countries you will be operating this SDG in.
6. Clean water and sanitation
A very important SDG concerning the development of a sustainable future is supporting clean water and sanitation. From a health perspective, this is the number one necessity. Thankfully, there are many ways to achieve this goal and many organizations that are active on the ground, with which you could potentially collaborate. I will sum up some effective ways in which CSR can contribute to this SDG:
- Support the development of access to clean drinking water. Look for possibilities to develop water wells, and water pumps and develop filtering installations that can transform non-drinkable water to clean drinking water.
- Develop a supporting system in which your business can help start building sanitary buildings, including toilets and showers, to give access to sanitation to those who currently don’t have access to hygienic sanitary.
- Support the development of drainage of water to reach water availability for harvesting purposes.
8. Decent work and economic growth
SDG number eight is slightly in line with SDG number one (No Poverty) as we should, first of all, aim for fair wages, but of course, decent work and economic growth aren’t limited to wages only. Here are three easy steps in CSR you could take to achieve SDG number 8:
- Become a partner with a non-profit organization that fights child labor. A very strong demand and the necessity for today and the future to stop child labor in every country.
- Support the development of employment in the world. In many countries, people work for a daily wage, which means they try to do their job but may end up doing different work every day. And if they don’t work (due to illness) nothing is arranged. There is no security at all. Collaborate together with non-profits or with employee organizations to strive for employment, starting with your offices and production companies.
- In order to actually develop work and economic growth, you can dedicate your CSR to training. Train new people to become your employees, and train your employees to become better at their work in order to achieve economic growth. Arrange training programs and training equipment as part of your CSR strategy.
10. Reduced inequalities
It’s important to reduce inequalities in this world as much as we can before 2030. We may do this by striving for fair wages and economic growth worldwide (SDGs 1 and 8), as well as working towards 100% gender equality (SDG number 5). But we’re not there yet when we cover these SDGs, as Sustainable Development Goal number 10 is focussing mainly on the humane part of inequalities. Reducing the differences in humane situations is a CSR strategy that is close to the heart and moves people internally and externally. I’ll share the two steps to take as a company in reducing inequalities:
- Stand strong in the refugee crisis and support the development of the circumstances of those fleeing their home for safety or those being displaced. Currently, the amount of people on the move in this world has never been this big (103 million!) and the circumstances they face are unnecessarily bad. With your business, build a strong strategy to contribute to making these circumstances more human: support life-saving supplies, contribute to rescue activities, and/or support them in getting back on their feet and re-building their life in a new place. There are multiple NGOs active on the ground that could be the perfect partner to collaborate in reducing the inequalities of refugees or displaced people.
- Fight discrimination in any possible way. Do this by implementing strong policies within your company, covering all sorts of discrimination possible, and adding a diversity strategy, as well as making it part of your CSR strategy. Implementing the fight against discrimination into your CSR strategy can be done by contributing to support systems for those affected by discrimination, and supporting education about inclusivity, and cultural and racial differences (this can be done in class, in film, in books, or in a podcast). Another way to support the fight against discrimination is to raise awareness within your marketing and advertising and to support sharing the stories of those being a victim of discrimination.
11. Sustainable cities and communities
In order to have sustainable cities and communities in 2030, a lot has to be developed still – mostly in developing countries. As a business, you are able to shape your CSR strategy into contributing to the development of sustainable cities and communities. I will suggest two ways that will impact SDG number 11 drastically.
- Support the development of slums. This can be done in various ways, such as road development, improving housing conditions in slums, providing basic services such as clean water and sanitation, creating employment opportunities for slum dwellers, and fighting to reduce the incidence of crime in slums.
- Help in building local communities, by supporting NGOs in establishing a shared sense of identity or purpose, in facilitating community members to get to know each other and build relationships, in promoting local participation of the individual as well as local businesses, and in making it possible to use a place to gather.
12. Responsible consumption & production
An incredibly important Sustainable Development Goal is to support responsible consumption & production in the world. This responsibility needs to be shared amongst everyone worldwide, but can be easily started from your own office/house. Responsible consumption and production is something that should be done on every scale and in every industry, therefore the examples I will give are options that can be scaled up:
- Reducing waste to a minimum through technical development, education, and structural changes of behavior towards waste.
- Optimizing the way we can recycle products in this world – finding innovative solutions to decrease our waste and reuse existing products.
- Food not wasted: targeting wasting as little food as possible in this world, comes with innovative and creative solutions for food. As a company, you can support multiple initiatives to make sure food doesn’t go to waste and is shared more equally. Support the development of new ways to store, use or share food with others. As a business, starting with your own employees and business catering is a great way to kick off, adding a zero-wasting food program internally. Next to that, great existing initiatives such as TooGoodtoGo and Food Banks are great to partner up with. Focus on responsible consumption of the food we have in the world.
14. Life below water
CSR is definitely not limited to the humane side of philanthropic work and can be actively used to cover the two next SDGs, starting with number fourteen: life below water. The impact of our fast-paced everyday lives on land is unfortunately destructing life below water. Therefore this is an important SDG to start with as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Here are three ways you and your company can support life below water:
- Protect current life below water and fight further decay – in every way. Support the fight against this problem worldwide or start locally.
- Support development programs such as breeding programs for extinct species living underwater, development of coral, and the breeding of diverse fish.
- Join cleaning programs to clean the oceans, rivers, and lakes of waste residues and toxins. Multiple international organizations are leaders in their field of expertise to clean and sustain life below water.
Protect, develop and clean life below water, pre-eminently in partnership with NGOs that have their expertise in this.
15. Life on land
We all know, on land we are not the only living creatures. Nevertheless, we are the ones that need to step up in protecting and restoring life on land, as we’ve been also playing a big part in threatening it. CSR can help your business in collaborating to support, protect and stimulate life on land. Here are 3 ways how to start:
- Protect: By supporting a protection program for animals or nature, you contribute to keeping the existing species and nature intact. By protecting this actively, both animals and nature get the chance to develop in the most natural way. A strong example of a protection program is the conservation of a specific area or type of animal.
- Restore: In order to restore the situation on land, it’s important to support restoring of green and forest areas. There are many areas threatened by deforestation and life within these areas is disappearing. By restoring forests and areas of green, we are able to bring back the more natural balance of life on land. Another way to support the restoration of the situation is by contributing to breeding programs of several animals.
- Fight: As life on land is threatened by multiple industries, disciplines, and emissions, fighting to protect life on land is a key focus as well. The support you can give can be focussed on protecting nature as well as protecting animals from poaching and misuse. There are many (non-profit) organizations active in these fields of protection, to support the fight for life on land.
17. Partnerships for the goals
The very best way to achieve any SDG – but very concrete goal number 17 – is to collaborate with other partners to achieve the goals. A partnership between (at least) two parties, for a longer period of time, strengthens each other in achieving a goal or multiple goals. CSR is all about partnership, especially if you as a successful business partner with a non-profit organization to build and grow together.
My tip: Take time to investigate potential partnerships based on your vision, mission, and strategies for the upcoming years. Talk to multiple potential partners to find the right fit and be critical of the aims of the partnership. Find a partner that suits your company in one or more of your key values and develop a sustainable partnership for years to come. Together you can achieve goals and grow further, as good partnerships can become beneficial and lead to new business opportunities!
Link to UN’s SDG goals number 17
I can help your business accelerate in CSR
Besides reaching and developing your Sustainable Development Goals with CSR, these SDG strategies will most likely also lead to new business opportunities. Are you eager to get your Corporate Social Responsibility in place and reach your company’s goals? Or like to receive concrete examples of organizations that fit the various SDGs and your company? Let me know. I can help your business accelerate in CSR by developing sustainable partnerships aligned with your company’s vision and I can help execute your CSR-plans to perfect Sales and Marketing funnels in your field of work.
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“Make the SDG’s a reality”United Nations
Note: This blog will be updated with new ideas and interpretations of the SDGs as frequently as possible.