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only do the assessment 2Business & the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) CORP3543 Contemporary Business Issues1Key

only do the assessment 2

Business & the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs)

CORP3543
Contemporary Business Issues

1

Key questions

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

Why are they important?

What is the role for business in achieving the SDGs?

What are the current practices adopted by businesses?

What next for SDGs & business?

2

Background

The United Nations is an international organization founded in 1945 to promote peace & cooperation between nations

It is made up of 193 member states

Due to the powers vested in its Charter and its unique international character, the UN can take action on important issues e.g. peace & security, climate change, sustainable development, human rights, disarmament, terrorism, humanitarian and health emergencies, gender equality, governance, food production, etc.

UN & Development

At the beginning of the new millennium, world leaders gathered at the UN to shape a broad vision to fight poverty in its many dimensions.

That vision was translated into eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and remained the overarching global development framework until the target date of 2015

It was an ambitious vision..

Effectiveness of MDGs?

There is no consensus on whether the MDGs were successful, or the extent to which they were successful (if at all) but some concerns/problems are known

e.g. there was no performance-assessment system, and wider problems with weak governance and mismanagement were said to have interfered with their effective implementation

Particular countries faced different issues e.g. Oleribe and Taylor-Robinson tell us that: “although significant progress has been made worldwide, Nigeria is lagging behind for a variety of reasons, including bureaucracy, poor resource management in the healthcare system, sequential healthcare worker industrial action, Boko Haram insurgency in the north of Nigeria & kidnappings in the south of Nigeria” (2016: 156)

The MDGs were also criticized for not harnessing the potential of the private sector

2015 Re-evaluation and new development agenda

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity

It includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets to demonstrate the scale/ambition of the new universal Agenda

See

Purpose of the 2030 Agenda

The SDGs build on the MDGs and seek to  complete what these did not achieve

To stimulate action in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet

To have integrated/indivisible approach balancing the 3 dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social & environmental)

To identify and aim to address most significant challenges facing society; pledge that “no-one will be left behind”

5Ps – People, Planet, Peace, Prosperity, Partnership

Preamble of the Agenda

9

5 Ps & 17 SDGs (Van Tulder 2018)

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The 2030 Agenda: key characteristics

This is an Agenda of unprecedented scope/significance. It is accepted by all countries and is applicable to all, taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities. These are universal goals and targets which involve the entire world, developed and developing countries alike. (Para 5)

Sustainable development recognizes that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, combating inequality within and among countries, preserving the planet, creating sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and fostering social inclusion are linked to each other and are interdependent (Para 13)

Never before have world leaders pledged common action and endeavour across such a broad and universal policy agenda (Para 18)

SDGs & the 2030 Agenda : what role for business?

All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, will implement this plan (Preamble)

We acknowledge the role of the diverse private sector, ranging from micro-enterprises to cooperatives to multinationals, and that of civil society organizations and philanthropic organizations in the implementation of the new Agenda (para 41)

Private business activity, investment and innovation are major drivers of productivity, inclusive economic growth and job creation. We acknowledge the diversity of the private sector, ranging from micro-enterprises to cooperatives to multinationals. We call upon all businesses to apply their creativity and innovation to solving sustainable development challenges… (Para 67)

12

SDGs: The business potential to deliver

Corporations have the ability to scale activities across sectors, borders and products

They are able to innovate through their ability and willingness to take risk

Companies are large investors in technology

Corporations create jobs, products and services

Due to their often very powerful positions in networks/sectors, they can be a barrier to change if they are not involved

They can mobilise sizable and timely financial resources

They create efficiency, stimulated by competition, thus enabling cheaper solutions for existing products and services

They have various sizes and therefore strengths. Size matters in various ways: big companies are often more able to innovate and scale, smaller companies are better able to flexibly respond to short-term challenges

Source: Van Tulder 2018

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But can business really be a development actor?..

Carving out of a role for the private sector in addressing the SDGs does not challenge the mechanisms which created inequalities/underdevelopment in the first place. The structural causes of poverty, patterns of distributions and structural inequality remain unaddressed

Before big business can truly be a partner in development alongside NGOs, donors and governments, its role in violence/corruption/inequality must be acknowledged & dealt with

There is a clash between the dominant business model, which is based upon short-term planning with a narrow focus on finances, and a longer-term sustainable development agenda. For some businesses there is an inability to move beyond the business case and sustainability is just an ‘add-on’. There is a lack of coherence in business approaches and a focus on core, profit-driven business objectives. Often these objectives or the consequent models they adopt end up working against the sustainable development agenda

Source: Scheyvens et al. 2016

14

KPMG’s survey suggests the UN SDGs have resonated strongly with business since their launch in 2015. As a result, their influence on reporting has increased significantly between 2017 and 2020

(NB The N100 refers to a worldwide sample of 4,900 companies comprising the top 100 companies by revenue in each of the 49 countries researched in KPMG’s study and the G250 refers to the world’s 250 largest companies by revenue based on the Fortune 500 ranking of 2016)

Source:

Current trends and practices

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Which SDGs are businesses working on?

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… but we do need to be wary regarding corporate reporting

The Guardian 17/02/2022

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Concluding thoughts/questions

Can companies reconcile corporate impacts on people, planet and prosperity with satisfying their fundamental mission to achieve profit and shareholder returns?

SDGs are becoming increasingly important for businesses to pay attention – however, the focus so far has remained on large companies. How will/should small companies incorporate and address SDGs remains to be seen

With only 6 years to go to the 2030 agenda – what should the role of business be? What is still achievable within this timeframe?

How a post-pandemic business landscape will impact SDG uptake and integration is also open to debate

18

Business and Sustainable Development Commission (2017) Better Business, Better World. Available at:

Dahlmann, F., Stubbs, W., Griggs, D. and Morrell, K., (2019) Corporate actors, the UN sustainable development goals and earth system governance: a research agenda. The Anthropocene Review, 6(1-2), pp:167-176.

Folke, C., R. Biggs, A. V. Norström, B. Reyers, and J. Rockström (2016) Social-ecological resilience and biosphere-based sustainability science. Ecology and Society 21(3):41.

PwC (2015) Make it Your Business: Engaging with the Sustainable Development Goals. Available at:
(Accessed 20 November 2016)

PWC (2019) Creating a strategy for a better world: How the Sustainable Development Goals can provide the framework for business to deliver progress on our global challenges. Available at:
ttps://www.pwc.com/gx/en/sustainability/SDG/sdg-2019.pdf

Rockstörm, J. and Sukhdev, P. (2016) How food connects all the SDGs. Available at:

Scheyvens, R., Banks, G. and Hughes, E. (2016) The private sector and the SDGs: The need to move beyond ‘business as usual’. Sustainable Development, 24(6), pp:371-382.

Schönherr, N., Findler, F. and Martinuzzi, A. (2017) Exploring the interface of CSR and the sustainable development goals. Transnational Corporations, 24(3), pp:33-47.

Van Tulder, R. (2018). Business & The Sustainable Development Goals: A Framework for Effective Corporate Involvement. Available at:

Van Zanten, J.A. and Van Tulder, R., 2018. Multinational Enterprises and the Sustainable Development Goals: An Institutional Approach to Corporate Engagement. Journal of International Business Policy, 1(3-4),pp: 208-233

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Thank you

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