The programme is part of a wider SDG action plan, designed to assist the UNGC’s 80-plus local networks in developing and executing SDG implementation strategies, linking them where possible to national plans of action.

UNGC is looking to celebrate local leaders and change-makers who can demonstrate that businesses can be successful while contributing to sustainable development. The most inspiring pioneers will be recognised at the forthcoming UNGC 2016 Leaders Summit in New York this June, and will enter into a year-long programme to further develop their ambition and potential.

Opportunity knocks

The SDGs give important direction to the UNGC’s founding mission to encourage companies to do business responsibly – based on the 10 universal principles – and to provide solutions to global challenges. It is hoped the campaign will encourage outstanding efforts on responsible business around the world and scale-up action on the SDGs over time.

UNGC’s executive director Lise Kingo said the campaign would run annually, and that the intention was to make “global goals local business” by turning them into drivers for sustainable business innovation. “The SDGs open up an enormous opportunity for business to be a force for good,” Kingo said. “It is time to celebrate the individuals and businesses behind sustainability in local markets.

UNGC recently launched a fresh set of tools and resources to aid in the implementation of the global goals. These include: –

The UN Business Action Hub – a platform for dialogue between UN agencies and companies around the SDGs.
The SDG Compass – providing guidance for companies on how they can align their strategies as well as measure and manage their contribution to the realisation of the SDGs.
The SDG Industry Matrix – providing practical guidance and showcasing industry-specific examples and ideas for corporate action related to each SDG.

UN officials are pleased with how SDG efforts are progressing, according to reports, but there are concerns that ongoing crises such as global conflict, corruption and human rights abuse could undermine efforts to implement the goals. The lack of data needed for countries to achieve their objectives is also a worry.

Earlier this year, Unilever CEO Paul Polman – in partnership with former UN Deputy Secretary General Mark Malloch-Brown – launched a Global Commission to articulate and quantify the economic benefits for businesses  to engage in achieving the SDGs. The Commission will present a report in a year’s time outlining new business and financial models, as well as market opportunities for companies who are investing in sustainable approaches.

Sustainable Development Goals: The role of business

Maxine Perella

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