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.

UNA-Luton Conference on Commonwealth women celebrating International Women’s Day

On 26th March 2018, I was privileged to be part of an amazing gathering of civil society organisations and social activists in Luton, Bedfordshire. United Nations Association-Luton under the leadership of the very dedicated and inspiring Dr.Nazia Khanum OBE invited the Luton and Bedfordshire community members and social leaders to add their voice to the agenda for women empowerment to be discussed at the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London.

The event was organised in partnership with UNA-Harpenden and University of Bedfordshire. Although a weeknight, the attendance numbers surpassed the expectations with almost ninety participants from all walks of life. The event was well attended by dignitaries including the Lord Mayor Cllr G. Ayub and Cllr Naseem Ayub, representatives from the local authority, grass root community organisations, other professionals and academicians.

 

Group photo of organisers with dignitaries
From Left to Right: Shaista Khan, Dr. Violet Cuffy , Dr. Nazia Khanum, Prof.Gurch Randhawa, Mayor Luton Cllr G.Ayub, Cllr Naseem Ayub, Mr. Vinod Tailor, Dr.Diana Pritchard

The audience reflected the cultural diversity and dynamic community of Luton. The biggest success was the significant attendance and active involvement of women from ethnically diverse communities. In the words of Dr.Nazia , Chair UNA-Luton

” This was a tremendously exciting and successful conference, where in my experience it is the first time so many women from traditional backgrounds attended an event based at the University and felt part of women-power.”

The conference addressed the challenges faced by women particularly from the Commonwealth countries in dealing with issues related to Climate change and Migration. The presenters gave some food for thought to the audience by highlighting the impact of the above and encouraging participants to think of ways for addressing these in the group sessions. During the group sessions, participants were invited to share their perspectives and add recommendations to be put forward as a Draft resolution at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting next month in London.

Some glimpses of the exciting event can be seen below.

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