Sustainability leaders: hurry up!

This time next week I’ll be blogging about my Top 10 takeaways from edie’s Sustainability Leaders Forum (SLF), London 24-25 January 2018. Who and what will make it onto the list?

I’ve already blogged about my expectations of the workshop on sustainability communications. And I relish the discussion about ‘making the sustainability manager’s role obsolete’. Always a fun topic. I’ve asterisked the circular economy presentations and the staff and stakeholder engagement sessions. And the debate around ‘purpose’ should be interesting.

SDGs and the business case

I’m also looking forward to the presentation and workshop on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), both of which promise to shed light on the business case for taking action on the Goals.

Like the Paris Agreement (notably absent from the agenda), the SDGs have created a big buzz within the business community, but where’s the action? Recent research shows that two fifths (39%) of companies are linking their CSR activity to the SDGs, which is a start, but is it enough? I don’t think so, nor do the authors of studies highlighting the gap between public commitment and corporate action.

The need for speed

I fully expect Jonathon Porritt to reiterate his warning that business has to stop talking and tinkering and start taking decisive action. We are running out of time. As a new study shows, carbon emissions will plateau around 2030, but we will still miss the -1.5C target. Never mind the -2C necessity. Given that Goal 13 (Climate action) is the most prioritised among business, this doesn’t bode well for achievement of the other Goals.

I think the SLF agenda question about who should implement the SDGs – government or business – is redundant. It’s about partnership (Goal 17). Business must take the lead on finding solutions, government is too slow. But it won’t put in the effort or resources if there’s no benefit to the business. Nor should it. Business is there to create prosperity. Non-profit organisations are there to push the social and environmental case. Government is there to legislate and enforce. This is why partnership working is a linchpin of the SDGs.

169 business reasons  

As well as being a roadmap for universal sustainable development, the SDGs are a treasure trove of business opportunities. Not just the 17 headline Goals, the magic lies in the 169 underlying targets. Study the targets and map the most relevant against your business impacts and stakeholder interests and it becomes clearer for business to see ways to reduce its impacts (aka risks) and increase opportunities for developing innovative, commercial and sustainable outcomes that benefit all stakeholders.

That’s the theory, but who’s doing it? That’s what I want to learn from the sustainability leaders.

Go for -15%

Places are still available at the Sustainability Leaders Forum and you can bag a lastminute bargain (15% discount) using the code IDEAL15 when you book online.

See you there. 

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