The UN Global Goals vs Other Sustainability Frameworks
As a provider of sustainable IT solutions, Techbuyer is continuously looking for ways to reduce our environmental impact and measure our sustainability contributions. Because of this, in 2019 we signed up to support the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development, setting targets against three of the seventeen goals to direct our sustainability efforts.
There are many frameworks out there with which organisations can measure sustainability and environmental impact, many of which are globally accepted in a similar way to the Global Goals. So how does this sustainability framework, laid out by the UN compare against the other available methods?
What are the Global Goals for Sustainable Development?
Firstly, we should address what the Global Goals are and what they set out to achieve. Sustainability is defined as “meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” and this is exactly what the Global Goals have set out to achieve.
The UN has identified seventeen areas to create a framework for addressing the serious issues that need to be tackled to create a sustainable environment for our planet and future generations. These areas cover a wide range of issues, including poverty, clean water and sanitation, climate action, life below water and responsible consumption and production.
The UN’s pledge is to overcome the major problems in these areas to create a better planet and a liveable future for all by 2030.
Businesses and organisations can sign up to support the goals and set their own targets against any chosen number of goals to aid sustainable development. This is exactly what we signed up to do in 2019; find out more about our contribution to the Global Goals and our progress at the halfway point of our commitment here.
What are the Other Sustainability Frameworks and What do they Measure?
It is important to understand that signing up to one sustainability framework does not exclude you from using other resources and support. At Techbuyer, we comply with and take part in a range of other sustainability frameworks to help shape our sustainability strategy and goals.
The frameworks we use include:
1. The Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol)
The GHG Protocol is a globally recognised standard for measuring greenhouse gas accounting for private and public sector organisations. This standard allows businesses to accurately measure and manage their carbon emissions across their value chain, in accordance with growing carbon legislation and the pressures of climate change.
We use the GHG Protocol to measure our scope 1 and 2 emissions and report on our carbon footprint in compliance with SECR for our UK facilities.
2. B Corp Certification and the Benefit Impact Assessment (BIA)
The BIA is a voluntary framework that measures organisational impact on the environment and sustainability progress. It is a free-to-use digital tool that can help you measure, manage and improve the positive impact of your businesses on the environment, communities, customers, suppliers and employees. Achieving a score of 80 points or above in this assessment is the first step towards B Corp Certification.
B Corp organisations go through scheduled verification processes and meet the high standards of the certification.
The awarding of B Corp Certification marks leaders in the global sustainability movement, who are fighting for inclusivity, equitability and a regenerative economy. Techbuyer is not a B Corp certified company; however, we do use this framework to measure our social and environmental impact. On our first assessment, we received a score of 83.6 points (42%) meeting the minimum requirements. Find out more about our rating here.
Why are the UN Global Goals Different to Other Sustainability Frameworks?
The UN Global Goals provide an excellent framework to measure your success and celebrate the impact that your business has made. However, it is important to understand the pros and cons of the framework when compared with others, and vice versa.
Strengths of the UN Global Goals:
- The Global Goals measure an organisations contributions, success and impact rather than focusing on the negative impact and consequences of the business.
- The GHG Protocol measures the carbon impact of a company’s operations and value chain; this protocol is used to negate, as much as possible, your carbon footprint. The Global Goals flips this idea on its head, focusing instead on what you could achieve and tracking your progress towards completing your sustainability goals.
- The Global Goals are not limited to a single country or region; they are a globally recognised framework. This means that supporting the goals is widely acknowledged and celebrated.
- Its 17 Goals support sustainability in a variety of different ways including poverty, education, responsible consumption and production, gender equality and reusable energy. This allows organisations to make an impact in ways which may not have otherwise been considered.
- The UN goals offer complete flexibility for your organisation's sustainability targets. You can tailor the number of targets, against as many goals as you like and determine the figures you would like to achieve.
- Whilst the flexible nature of the Global Goals is to be applauded, it also allows companies to set targets that are not as challenging as they could be. This means that, whilst supporting the goals, organisations can set targets that are too easy to achieve or have a limited impact. If supporting the UN Global Goals, it is important to set goals that will be challenging, but achievable, as this will have the biggest impact possible.
- There is no legal requirement to support the goals, and whilst this allows for complete freedom it also means that they lack enforceability and ‘bite’ meaning that many organisations do not support them.
Techbuyer makes use of a series of sustainability frameworks to shape our services and business operations. We support and contribute wholeheartedly to the UN Global Goals, measuring our commitment on a monthly basis. However, we utilise the UN Global Goal in conjunction with other sustainability frameworks to augment our impact, measure a range of different areas and support sustainable development wherever we can.
We would encourage any company looking to make a change and create a sustainability strategy to look towards the global goals for guidance. Find out more about our Sustainable Global Goals targets and the work we have done below: