A Guide for Business: Engaging with the SDGs

By Rachel Adrian


The Sustainable Development Goals are a clear call for all sectors to get involved and momentum is building across all sectors.  The SDGs heralds a significant change from the earlier UN Millennium Goals. Today, Business is expected to be a critical partner in accomplishing the goals along side non-profits and government. So are they ready? What will their contribution look like? What will drive their involvement?A recent PwC Survey about the Sustainable Development Goals has found that 70% of businesses plan to embed the SDGs in their strategy within 5 years. Many businesses have already started thinking about how they will be able to make a difference. From making smaller changes, like composting or ensuring equality in the workplace, to taking part in collective action partnerships for monumental change, everyone has the ability and responsibility to make a difference. 

How do People Expect Business to Take Part?

The survey highlighted three ways people want businesses to get involved in this critical movement.1.    Embedding in Strategy: By addressing SDGs directly through strategy, a great opportunity for shared value exists. Rather than being an add-on to existing CSR programs, the organization develops a strong commitment to the goal and can make an impact in a sustainable way. Doing good becomes part of how you do business, no longer an afterthought.2.    Through CSR Initiatives: Highlighting SDGs through CSR is a great way to show employees, and the general public your commitment. Authenticity and genuine commitment are critical when approaching these goals through CSR.3.    Supporting the SDG Development Process: Through supporting the development of the SDGs, measurement tools and building awareness, businesses can help build a platform for the goals to really succeed. Whether this is through grant programs or in kind support, this type of help is very important in these early years. 

Is Business Ready?

  • Awareness of the SDGs is quite high in the business community (92%) versus only 33% of the general population. For this reason business can play an important role in these early years of the goals by growing awareness and educating the public about their importance. Many are looking at business to be leaders in the Sustainable Development Goal movement.

  • 71% of businesses say they are already planning how they will engage with the SDGs. Why? 90% of citizens say it’s important for business to sign up and employees are also drivers along with customers, stakeholders and the general public.

  • 13% have already identified the tools they need to assess their impact against SDGs and another 41% say the will embed SDGs into strategy and the way they do business, within five years.


What are the First Steps to Getting Involved?

Highlight a few of the goals that are particularly troublesome for your business – for example, #8 Decent Work and economic Growth will be of interest to many, and strategize how it can be incorporated into strategy. Chances are, many of the activities you are already doing could be tied to the goals. They have even developed a fun SDG selector that will pull out a few suggestions for goals that may be relevant to your industry.This is a great opportunity for business to get involved in some of the most troubling social issues of our time and become part of a movement for real change. As the public develops familiarity with the goals, it will become more and more important for business to be involved and businesses that have already developed a strategy for success will be ahead of the game.For more information about the SDGs and to take PwC’s Global Goals Business Challenge, please check out the PwC report here.

This blog is the third in a 3 part series about engagement with the sustainable development goals. See the other blogs here: 

Sustainable Development Goals: Why Should You Care?


Partnerships at the Heart of the Sustainable Development Goals