Aspiring to the UN’s sustainable development goals makes business sense

By Grace Ormsby|08 January 2019

There are opportunities to deliver value for a company through alignment to the United Nations’ sustainable development goals without too much extra effort, according to a company principal.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all, and address the global challenges we face according to the UN.

Justin Story, the principal of Aither, a natural environment consulting company, was speaking at the 2018 Governance Institute of Australia National Conference when he said alignment of and aspiration to one or more of the SDGs “doesn’t require huge amounts of additional investment.”

“It starts with a conversation, absolutely,” Mr Story said to encourage attendees to consider creating a cultural shift in thinking and consulting on the goals, which the UN said address global challenges inclusive of poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice.

It’s “materially about what’s important to you and your business which is aligned with what you actually do day-in, day-out,” Mr Story explained, as opposed to “trying to reinvent the wheel”.

He was upfront about the fact “that it does take a bit of time” but companies should recognise “that its not as much effort as it could be perceived to be.”

He did, however, warn against companies trying to cover every single SDG, noting “there aren’t many companies that really have the capacity in the first instance”.

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“There’s a lot of capability that is then required to think about, in detail, the distillation from a fairly high-level objective and goal, down into that monitoring and evaluation reporting framework and business strategy” he said, if companies were to attempt all 17 goals at once.

Companies should decide “what’s an important SDG for them to really think about and focus on as a business”, he said.

He explained some of the world’s largest businesses are currently looking at what their purpose is “around delivering certain values that align with their business.”

Citing a “prime example”, Mr Story sad that “there are opportunities to actually deliver value through, reducing or delaying capital investment” and showcasing where SDGs are able to be used “as a framework to think about risk and growth as well.”

Lawyers Weekly has previously reported on how shareholder primacy lacks corporate logic for board directors, as well as on inequality being the single, biggest geopolitical risk facing corporate governance.

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Aspiring to the UN’s sustainable development goals makes business sense
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