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Getting behind the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

Astrid Wynne, Sustainability Communications Manager Jul 18, 2018

Organisations large and small were happy to admit they did not have all the answers at the UN Sustainable Development Goals workshop in Leeds this June. It was a brave step, but understandable when the subject is a 'paradigm shift for people and planet'.

This was the way former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon described the 17 “Sustainable Development Goals” adopted by the UK and the 192 other Member States in 2015. At the heart of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it is now up to the people and businesses of the world to discuss how to make them work.  

In amongst representatives from larger organisations such as Centrica, Drax Group, Skipton Building Society, Freedom Group, Leeds City Council, the Coop and Asda, it would have been easy to feel intimidated. However, the atmosphere was very friendly and the roadshow became a conversation where anyone’s view was encouraged. Delegates agreed that many small organisations already support the goals without realising it, which was encouraging for us to hear.   

Doing more than you think

Office donations to local charities, sponsored runs, recycling bins, energy saving lightbulbs, apprenticeship schemes are all initiatives that a lot of smaller companies like ours put in place. Talking about this in the right way enables us to show how we support the goals. While this might not change what we do, it helps us spread the word.

More and more public and private sector organisations are getting involved, and looking for sustainable businesses in their supply chain. Talking about the benefits we bring makes us more attractive to them but it gives us a larger purpose too. The more organisations who support and broadcast the goals, the stronger the message becomes. Hopefully this will help us make more progress as a global community.

“Making Global Goals Local Business”

Some goals appear to apply just to one part of the world. However, taking targets associated with them into consideration, it is clear that apply in every country. For instance, Zero Hunger encompasses poor nutrition as well as starvation. With national problems like childhood obesity and poor diet, it becomes apparent how relevant this is in the UK.

What is encouraging is that addressing these problems in a creative way increases business profitability, value and reputation. At Techbuyer, we have known for some time that quality refurbishment saves money for customers and creates jobs. Bigger companies are expressing this in other inspiring and ambitious ways

An example from the big leagues is Ikea’s use of wind power in their business, a venture which was so successful that the company now sells electricity to the grid. Another case is the Drax Group, who are converting from coal power to electricity generated from the offcuts of sustainable timber production. Both are innovative solutions to resource issues; both have helped companies to grow. “Sustainability and profitability are two sides of the same stick,” was a phrase we learned at the roadshow.” We love it!

Join the conversation

For any companies who would like to get involved, more roadshows are scheduled in the UK later in the year. Check out the places and dates because there is an open invitation to anyone in the area with an interest to come along:

Edinburgh – 17 September

Liverpool – 1 October

Birmingham – 12 October

Bristol – 6 November

Manchester – 22 November

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