Understanding Sustainability in the Business Context

Sustainability has become a buzzword in today’s socially conscious business world. As our breathing becomes more stifled with the increased toxins in the environment and we learn to come to terms with the detrimental effects of massive industrial growth and mass production; businesses have also had to review their mandates and include ‘sustainability’ ‘environment-friendly’ and ‘socially-responsible’ as key corporate values.

Many argue about the definition of sustainability and sustainable development. It is perhaps best defined by the following definition;

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

~ Gro Harlem Brundtland, 1987- Prime Minister Norway and Chairman of the World Commission on Environment and Development

The Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030) give a universal framework for organisations to align their work with social goals and create systems and evaluations based on successful outcomes that ensure success is not made at the cost of natural resources or adverse affects to the communities both locally and globally.

According to The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: A Why, When and How Guide for Business (28 pages, PDF), businesses that align their core values with the SDGs are more likely to build trust, retain top talent, adapt successfully to policy changes, strengthen their value chains, and unlock new global markets than companies that do not. Businesses that are early SDG adopters also are more likely to be rewarded with improved reputations, future-proofed supply chains, and more robust growth, the report argues.

The report outlines a number of steps designed to help startups and large businesses craft an SDG approach that aligns with their priorities, engage internal and external stakeholders, set actionable time-bound goals, and incorporate their efforts into non-financial reporting.

“The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are relatively new, and many business leaders are still trying to figure out what the goals mean for their companies,” said Stuart Burden, SVCF’s vice president of corporate responsibility. “In this practical guide, we hope to get business people talking about the SDGs and putting plans in place that catalyze real change. With the right tools, businesses can harness their capacity for innovation, strategic partnerships, and finance to play a key role in making the world a better place by 2030.”

EDUSERVE is a private consultancy service providing support to social enterprises, educational institutions and corporations in integrating the SDGs in their core objectives and development strategy. For details contact shaistakhan@eduservecommunity.org.

References:

New Report From Silicon Valley Community Foundation Helps Companies Align With the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals.” Silicon Valley Community Foundation Press Release 12/06/2017.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: A Why, When and How Guide for Business.” Silicon Valley Community Foundation Report 12/06/2017.

Why EDUSERVE?

As an  educationist and a social activist I have come across several models of development. There is amazing work being done by different agencies on Sustainable development, Social Services, Culture & Diversity Issues and Environment protection. All these great organisations are contributing in their own way to make this world a better place to live in.

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The Education 2030 Framework outlines the most important areas for achieving sustainable development.

“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

These 17 Goals build on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals, while including new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities. The goals are interconnected – often the key to success on one will involve tackling issues more commonly associated with another.

The SDGs work in the spirit of partnership and pragmatism to make the right choices now to improve life, in a sustainable way, for future generations. They provide clear guidelines and targets for all countries to adopt in accordance with their own priorities and the environmental challenges of the world at large. The SDGs are an inclusive agenda. They tackle the root causes of poverty and unite us together to make a positive change for both people and planet.”

~United Nations Development Program

There is a plethora of resources available to work on the goals. However, organisations specially schools sometimes find it difficult to grasp the content. Hence  EDUSERVE assists schools to make sense of the Education 2030 Framework and creatively use available resources to become part of a global minded community of educators. Individual consultation is provided to find creative ways to address the SDG Goals, motivating teachers and students to see themselves as the solution to the problem. This is done through:

  • Consultation with school heads and community groups
  • Workshops for teachers
  • Guidance in choosing the resources that work for their community
  • Engaging in collaborative projects with other SDG advocates locally and internationally
  • Speaking engagements at events
  • Support in acquiring membership of UN Flagship schools

Ultimately we would like to use this platform to build a community of SDG advocates from all around the work to share, inspire and learn from each other.

We will be showcasing the successful projects of our partner global minded schools. Any contributions are most welcome.

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