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What do the SDGs mean to businesses?

November 6, 2017

When the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were launched, business participation and engagement were limited since they focused mainly on governments. However, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) embraced a greater vision and to be achieved they would need the participation of businesses, civil society and governments.


With an explicit call for urgent participation for the implementation of the SDGs, businesses are driving a faster pace for their achievement. Implementing an SDGs-based framework will provide benefits and opportunities that can be turned into advantages by every company, regardless of  size, sector or where they operate.


Some of these opportunities are:


  • Help to identify and create new markets and business opportunities

  • Competitive advantage over other companies

  • Potential to protect and create value for the company and its value chain

  • Reduction of employee turnover

  • Higher sustainability performance and innovation opportunities

  • Compliance with international, national and local laws

  • Reduced legal and reputational risks

  • Improved trust among stakeholders, supply chain and public

  • Help tackling the problems constraining human development.


However, the SDGs also bring challenges for businesses because they will break the traditional operating systems and encourage innovation. Some of these challenges are:


  • The SDGs require financial investment and expertise

  • An inaccurate determination of the relevant SDGs for the company might turn into an ineffective investment of time and resources

  • Presenting  the SDGs as a significant opportunity for market transformation and inclusive growth to other businesses

  • Creating partnerships with Government and Civil Society.



Patrick Mercedes

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