You have surely heard about the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and their importance in today’s world, right? No ? Ok… we’ll explain
This program was launched in 2015 by the United Nations (UN), laying out 17 goals to face up to major global challenges such as eradicating poverty, the fight against hunger, etc. This article will walk you through the steps to familiarizing yourself with the framework and how you can use it to better define your project’s social mission.
Step 1: Read the 17 SDGs
Discovering the SDGs and their associated global challenges is the first step we recommend, especially if you aren’t already familiar with the framework. You will see that each of the 17 SDGs is presented with priorities and goals, complete with actions to implement.
For instance, for SDG 5 on Gender Equality, one of the priority goals is to ensure women’s equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life. Giving women equal political and economical rights and enhancing access to enabling technology are among the actions put forward to achieve it. As you can see, there are several ways to meet the goal.
In step 1, reading through the goals will give you food for thought for your own project. Take time to get to know and really understand the SDGs before you commit! To find out more, visit the website dedicated to the UN’s SDGs (1).
Step 2: Learn about companies that contribute to SDGs
This involves finding out about companies and concrete actions around the 17 SDGs. Step 2 will help you better grasp the possibilities, find inspiration in real examples and see how the SDGs can be used to serve your project.
Let’s look at SDG 2, aiming to end hunger, ensure food safety, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. French company Yuka (2) has developed a mobile application that scans food products to get clear information about their health impact, a project that falls under the category of Goal 2.
Let’s take another example, the Quality Education Goal (SDG 4) aiming to ensure equal access to quality education for everyone and promote continued learning. The company Nyki (3) has chosen to position itself on this goal. Their mission consists of providing quality education accessible to all, no matter their financial resources.
A company can also tackle several SDGs at once. Take Zwoice (4), a local zero waste marketplace business featuring eco-conscious brands and green lifestyle products, which aims to contribute to the following goals:
- Health and wellbeing (SDG 3)
- Sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12)
- Oceans (SDG 14)
Whether your target is set on one or more goals, make sure your positioning is clear and precise.
Step 3: Identify the SDGs for your project’s positioning
The SDG framework is a very helpful tool to help you refine your social mission. Once you’ve done your research (examples of companies close to your field, etc.), consolidate the elements that apply to your project.
Which causes touch you most? Try to pinpoint the SDGs closest to your project and find connections between the goals and your business. What activities or actions could you use to reach those goals?
This step will help you situate your project easily enough in comparison to the SDGs. To do so, what I recommend is placing on a board: the goal(s) on which you want to position yourself, the mission in line with your project, and, across from them, the actions to implement.
So, if you want to tackle SDGs 2 (fight against hunger) and 12 (sustainable consumption and production), your mission might be to combat food waste. An action to implement for this could be creating a product from recycled materials or a circular production chain.
Here is another example with positioning on goal 8 (decent work and economic growth): a business wanting to incorporate this goal could set an integration through employment mission involving hiring on long-term jobseekers and/or people with disabilities with the appropriate support, etc.
The SDGs will help you define a precise, concise and ambitious social goal for your business, but do bear in mind that the UN goals are highly ambitious and have a global scope. For your project to be viable and realistic, keep your feet on the ground, pick carefully through the information and take action on a local level.
So, take time to gather the necessary information and align your own aims with these major sustainable development goals. Taking your activity’s inherent constraints into account will give you the means to tackle identifiable needs on your own scale (territory) and put forward a relevant offering.
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