Open letter to the Prime Minister to support the SDGs

 

UKSSD (UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development) is coordinating an open letter to the Prime Minister in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is an opportunity for your company to publicly show its support for achieving the SDGs in the UK alongside other leading business voices.

 

UKSSD is calling on the UK Government to show active leadership on the implementation of the SDGs both at home and overseas. To this end UKSSD is facilitating an open letter from UK businesses to encourage the Prime Minister to take action on SDGs in the UK.

 

UKSSD will place the letter as a full-page advert in a national broadsheet on Monday 16th January to coincide with the start of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos (17-20th January).

 

The text for the letter can be found below, as can a Q&A providing you with further information. You will see that the letter has been written by and on behalf of UK companies, explaining that the SDGs are important to the future UK economy and asking the PM to commit to delivering the SDGs domestically as well as internationally.

 

The Davos conference is only a few weeks away and UKSSD would like to complete the design of the ad, including the logos of participating companies, before Christmas. If you would like to support the letter, UKSSD needs your agreement to use your logo, and a copy of the logo itself, by Friday 6th January. Please send your logo to chair@ukssd.co.uk to confirm your involvement.

 

Letter copy

Title: Sustainable development is good for UK business

 

Dear Prime Minister,

 

As a group of businesses investing in making our economy fit for the future, we support sustainable development in the UK. This is essential for our long-term prosperity and the wellbeing of generations to come.

 

The UK Government played a leading role in developing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and adopted them just over a year ago. As businesses, we’re ready to take responsibility and work with the Government to make sure the SDGs are delivered in the UK and around the world.

 

Sustainable development will create jobs, increase competitiveness and secure the natural resources our economy relies on.

 

We call on your Government to:

  • Demonstrate to business your commitment to deliver the SDGs in the UK
  • Work with businesses to deliver the SDGs, creating a transparent reporting framework and clear benchmarks
  • Require all departments, not only the Department for International Development, to work with business and other stakeholders to develop an SDG delivery plan

 

Together we can build a fairer, sustainable and more prosperous Britain.

 

Yours sincerely,

[Company logos will appear here]

 

Q&A

What do I need to do now?

If your company would like to support the letter, please confirm as soon as possible and no later than Friday 6th January. Please send your logo to chair@ukssd.co.uk. By this date UKSSD will need a high-resolution eps file of your company logo. If it’s more straightforward for us to deal directly with your brand team, please send us their contact details. UKSSD would also like to hear from you if your company can contribute a small amount to the cost of this project – see more detail below.

 

What is UKSSD (UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development)?

UKSSD is an open platform that supports public, private and voluntary organisations working towards sustainable development in the UK. It’s a multi-stakeholder platform encompassing businesses, NGOs, academics and government at all levels. More information is available at www.ukssd.co.uk

 

What’s the objective of the letter?

UKSSD wants the UK Government to acknowledge the importance of the SDGs and the UK’s role in delivering them both domestically and overseas through its policy decisions. The key message is that sustainable development is essential to the UK’s economic prosperity. The letter is a direct call to the Government from UK businesses.

 

What will the letter look like?

It will be a full-page colour ad with the letter text undersigned by the logos of all the participating companies with UKSSD identified as having coordinated the letter. The design of the ad will echo the UN’s colourful SDG iconography.

 

This is a similar approach to the ‘Business Backs Low Carbon Britain‘ letter that UK businesses placed in the Financial Times in June 2015 and was successful in helping to influence the Government’s approach to the Paris climate conference.

 

Which other companies will be involved?

UKSSD will be approaching companies engaged in many aspects of sustainable development and also those that supported the ‘Business Backs Low Carbon Britain’ letter.

 

What other activities will coincide with the letter?

On the day of publication UKSSD will post a news story on the UKSSD website, including a list of participating companies. UKSSD will also publish a blog that goes into more detail about the importance of the SDGs and their relevance to business.

 

UKSSD will support the letter with a press release, which they hope will generate coverage in the other business media. This will all be amplified through UKSSD’s social media channels. UKSSD will encourage participating companies to share and amplify the letter on their own channels and can offer support for this.

 

The letter itself will be posted to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for International Development. After the Davos conference UKSSD will monitor for the Government’s response and may do some follow-up communications as a result. UKSSD will be printing copies of the letter, including company logos, to distribute at events and for other face-to-face advocacy opportunities in early 2017.

 

The outcome of the letter and next steps on this agenda will be discussed at UKSSD’s conference on 1st March. Businesses are very welcome to send a representative. UKSSD has further activities planned for 2017 to engage political and business audiences on the sustainability agenda, including a joint event between UKSSD and BOND on examples of SDG implementation overseas. Please contact us for more information about any of these activities.

 

Does each company need to pay to be involved?

UKSSD is looking for a wide range of businesses to join this initiative and funding is not a condition of participation. However, as a non-profit organisation, UKSSD would welcome any financial support to help meet our costs. Please let us know if this might be possible.

 

Can we suggest changes to the copy and artwork?

Given that UKSSD is involving a number of companies and have hard deadlines to adhere to, it will not be practical to open the copy and design to amendments. However, you will be given a chance to see the final artwork and you can let us know if you have major concerns that might stand in the way of your participation.

 

Who should I contact if I have any other questions?

The letter is being coordinated by UKSSD. Please direct all queries to Francesca Burton at chair@ukssd.co.uk or 01483 412496.

 

Photograph: Flickr/ Will Newcomb.

  • twitter
  • fb
  • stumble
  • linkedin
  • reddit
  • email

The top six read articles 2016

2016 has been an exciting and challenging year for all of us. If there was one adjective that could describe it, I’d have voted for “uncertain”.

 

The world has lived in stormy times. We’ve seen the Western political establishments being shaken up with the rise of populism. Worldwide inequality levels were steadily increasing and many blame globalisation as its cause.

 

Despite the political turbulence business remained true to its promise and the world has seen ratification of the Paris Agreement.

 

Ranging from blockchain and modern slavery to food security and responsible tax, we’ve compiled a list of our top six read articles in 2016. We hope it will help our corporate sustainability community to navigate through uncertainty while preparing for 2017.

 

GLOBAL GOALS – TELL EVERYONE: CUSTOMERS, SUPPLIERS, COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS AND FAMILY!

“The Global Goals represent probably the biggest set of BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) that the world has seen before”, argues Joe Franses of Coca-Cola European Partners. He shares his key take aways on how to break this down and run a successful Global Goals' workshop.

 

COULD THE BLOCKCHAIN REVOLUTIONISE SUSTAINABILITY?

The Internet is missing one thing and the blockchain has it - trust. Jessi Baker, co-founder of Provenance, describes how a new technology called a blockchain might change how we trust companies,  information, and how it empower us as smarter citizens.

 

CAN TECHNOLOGY HELP US TO FEED THE WORLD?

In the next 50 years as diets become richer, experts estimate that to feed a population of 9bn people, more food should be produced than has been during the past 10,000 years in total. Vincent Doumeizel of Lloyd's Register explores how to work together to produce safe and sustainable food.

 

ARE WE ENTERING THE RESPONSIBLE TAX ERA?

Corporate tax avoidance has been a primary ethical concern for the British public since 2013, and businesses must increase transparency to regain public trust. Is it an ethics issue or a result of legal loopholes? Michael Solomon of Responsible 100 asks how far are we from a responsible tax society?

 

WHAT EU REFERENDUM COULD MEAN TO THE UK ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY?  

What would Brexit mean for the UK's environmental policy? In this exclusive blog, David Baldock, executive director at the Institute for European Environmental Policy, argues that the EU has made progress on environmental issues, and outlines the two main scenarios if the UK should vote to leave the EU. 

 

MODERN SLAVERY AND WHAT IT MEANS TO BUSINESS

Forced labour and child exploitation have been guilty secrets lurking in international supply chains for centuries. With the voice of business carrying greater weight than that of conscience, business has a key role to play in addressing modern slavery, says Aidan McQuade of AntiSlavery International.

 

Photograph: Flickr/ victoriacarlson.

  • twitter
  • fb
  • stumble
  • linkedin
  • reddit
  • email

Achieving the SDGs and the alchemy of partnerships with purpose

If you are wondering how your business, social enterprise or charity can best play its part in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), you are not alone. Many of us are wondering the same thing…

 

The Goals were agreed by 193 UN member states in September 2015. Their founding document, Transforming our World – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, makes clear that while delivery of the Goals is the responsibility of governments to lead on, multi-stakeholder partnerships – including those between business and civil society – will also be essential if we are to achieve them. The Goals are, in effect, a comprehensive sustainability to-do list, with something in there for everyone. As such, they’re a huge opportunity for our planet. But how to get involved?

 

Down the years I’ve found that if you want to make something happen, but aren’t quite sure what to do, it’s amazing what you can achieve if you just make a start. And for me, partnerships are the way to go.

 

For example, as a purpose-led entrepreneurial charity, Bioregional brings creativity, expertise and commitment to finding ways that we can all live well within our planet’s natural limits. We call this One Planet Living.

 

But of course, we can’t do this alone. As we develop new projects and initiatives we find others who bring their own expertise, resources and perspectives. Together these all add up to something none of us would have been able to achieve on our own. Clearer plans, partnerships and action on the ground naturally emerge.

 

In the process, I’ve learned a lot about the best conditions for creating that special alchemy of partnerships with purpose-led organisations. So here are my top four tips for nurturing great outcomes to achieve the SDGs:

 

Engage at a formative stage. The SDGs turned out as well as they did because governments created the space to engage with civil society, business and expert mission-driven organisations not as an afterthought, but right from the start – and then throughout the process.

 

Governments were able to draw on an incredible well of enthusiasm and expertise just by making the space for it and by giving due respect to us all. We were invited to attend every meeting, provide feedback, present our own figures, suggest different text, and organise events. We were also able to champion the issues that are closest to our hearts, and where our expertise lies. The key issue for Bioregional was the concept of sustainable consumption and production, which is now Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. 

 

Inevitably, some political ‘fudges’ had to be made – for example, we weren’t able to get the concept of ‘natural limits’ acknowledged. But the Goals do include the myriad of sustainable development issues in a very complete way thanks to the inclusive approach taken to developing them.

 

I also saw this approach play out well in the way that both the London 2012 Olympic bid and the government’s Eco-Town plans and projects were developed.

 

Be ready to be challenged on your core business. If you really want your business to be part of transforming our world, then it needs to be core to the business. This means taking a step back and a hard look at the purpose of the business. Is it part of that 2030 vision that the Sustainable Development Goals embodies, or is it in some way driving us in the other direction?

 

The sweet spot is where sustainability and business models align, and there’s a sense of real common purpose. Take B&Q, for example. At the start of our nine-year partnership with the home improvement retailer, we looked at how it could help its customers live a sustainable life, considering a customer’s average ecological footprint. This highlighted that the patio heaters had to go, but there was a real opportunity to promote energy-saving products and helping people growing their own veg. Both of these turned out to be best-selling product ranges, but this wouldn’t have happened so comprehensively without B&Q’s readiness to listen and be challenged. 

 

Likewise, on the London 2012 Olympics, following through on the bid’s sustainability strategy, which was developed and written by Bioregional and the bid company, London 2012. An analysis of the consumption- based carbon footprint by purpose-led organisation Best Foot Forward showed that it was the construction and fit-out of the events which would have the biggest carbon impact – not everyone flying in, as you might expect. This flowed through into strategies for reducing the volume of construction materials and take-back arrangements for venue fit-out items like seating and air conditioning. This saved hundreds of millions of pounds as well as cutting the carbon footprint.

 

Only settle for genuine partnerships. While companies that are really pushing the boundaries of business can rightly take credit for their achievements, purpose-led organisations play a critical role, bringing their unique commitment, passion and expertise to the mix. This demonstrates the received wisdom that for partnerships to work each partner needs to bring something to the party; each partner needs to have a clear role – and most importantly, all partners need to respect each other. You know the real magic is happening when you experience the camaraderie and fun that can result from successful partnerships.

 

Get started by getting together. So what next? Bioregional and a few other mission-led organisations saw there was a need for UK-based organisations to meet and explore how to take action on the SDGs. Since January 2015 we have been involved in establishing UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD). Our aim is to create one of those formative spaces for the magic of partnerships to deliver on the vision of the SDGs in the UK.

 

So whether it’s in this forum or any other, let’s all take the time to start talking to potential partners about how we can transform our world together. Let’s get started.

 

Sue Riddlestone OBE is CEO and co-founder at Bioregional. 

  • twitter
  • fb
  • stumble
  • linkedin
  • reddit
  • email

Global Goals – Tell Everyone: Customers, Suppliers, Colleagues, Friends and Family!

I challenge anyone to watch the Global Goals “We the People” video and not want to share it far and wide. That’s exactly what I pledged to do when I saw it for the first time. First step, share it with as many of my colleagues at Coca-Cola Enterprises as possible.

 

The Global Goals were introduced to the world in September 2015, yet the vast majority of people - unless they work in sustainable development - have simply not heard of them. That has to change. 

 

The success of the Global Goals (also known as the Sustainable Development Goals) will depend on everyone understanding what they are, what they aim to achieve and their relevance to their own organisation or business. And the level of ambition is huge.

 

What are the SDGs?

 

The Global Goals represent probably the biggest set of BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) that the world has seen before. A 17-point plan to end poverty, halt climate change and fight injustice and inequality by 2030. Put simply, a step-change for our planet and the biggest attempt in the history of the human race to make the world a better place.

 

It’s a plan which 193 governments have agreed, a plan that the world wants and needs and a plan backed by leading global organisations and the wider business community. It’s a to-do-list for the planet that will only be achieved if everyone plays their part – and the business community has a critical role to play.

 

The Role of Business

 

Of course the SDG’s build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and we shouldn’t forget that the MDG’s delivered significant progress. Since the turn of the Century extreme poverty has halved, 43 million more children go to school, HIV infections have gone down by 40 and over 2 billion more people now have access to clean drinking water. It shows what can be achieved.

 

Whilst the MDG’s were focused on the developing world, the Global Goals have a global focus - including economic, environmental and social issues. PwC recently described the Global Goals as a “game-changer for the planet” – but only if business seizes the opportunity to engage.

 

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General at the UN also has high expectations of the role of business. He said that “business is a vital partner in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Companies can contribute through their core activities, and we ask companies everywhere to assess their impact, set ambitious goals and communicate transparently about the results.” 

 

Introducing the Global Goals at CCE

 

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to run a workshop and introduce the Global Goals to 100 of the most senior leaders across Coca-Cola Enterprises’ supply chain business – including those who lead our manufacturing, procurement, logistics and cold drinks equipment operations.

 

At Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) we have our own Sustainability Plan - seven focus areas, 34 targets and a 2020 time horizon.  The Global Goals represent a Sustainability Plan at an entirely different scale, for the entire planet - 17 goals, 150 targets, and a 15-year time horizon. 

 

Our workshop was simple in structure.  I share a brief outline below to enable anyone to replicate and evolve the format within their own organisation. So what did we achieve? Just one small step, the workshop alone won’t change the world. Yet it did just what we intended it to do. Introduce the Global Goals and begin a process of building awareness and internal engagement.

 

Internally, the feedback has been positive. I’ve received many subsequent requests for multiple copies of an internally-produced Global Goals postcard that people can use with their own teams. 

 

As an output from the workshop we’ve recently developed a simple Infographic to demonstrate the strong alignment that already exists between CCE’s own Sustainability Plan and the Global Goals. Another small step in building awareness. I’d encourage everyone to talk about the Global Goals. Share them with colleagues, suppliers, customers and partners. We have much more to do in the future, but awareness is a good start. #Tell Everyone.

 

Global Goals Workshop

 

Step 1 – Introduce the Goals

Step 2 - Provide an opportunity to deep-dive into individual Goals

Step 3 – Ask three questions. Capture and map answers against Global Goals

  • What can your organisation do in the future to support the Global Goals?
  • What is your organisation currently doing which aligns with the Global Goals?
  • Which of the Global Goals has greatest relevance for your own business and value chain?

Step 4 – Ask participants to identify three things they will do personally to bring the Global Goals to life with their own teams and day-to-day business

Step 5 – Show “We The People” video.

 

Joe Franses is Director, Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability at Coca-Cola Enterprises

 
  • twitter
  • fb
  • stumble
  • linkedin
  • reddit
  • email

The business case for SDGs and what’s needed to achieve them

Launched with much fanfare in September 2015, The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), set the agenda for ‘transforming our world by 2030’. With 17 overarching goals, from ending poverty in all forms to ensuring access to clean energy for all, their scope is broad and long-term. That’s why some argue that they shouldn’t be called SDGs, but rather the Global Goals, as its everyone’s business.  

 

The global goals offer a rare opportunity to create a system change. They bring together the three main actors – government, business and the third sector – around a set of values that matter most to the world. It is the involvement of business that is most challenging, and it may be that the business response determines whether the global goals achieve their objective of transforming the world. 

 

The pessimists argue that, in their current form, the goals are too intangible for business. They are another vague and unachievable set of words to add to a corporate sustainability plan. They are competing for airtime against frameworks that are emerging from the business community such as natural capital, and social impact measurement. 

 

There are some who feel that the delivery has fallen to business because international institutions have failed.

 

But as we found at our Crowd Forum on 11th April, there is a general consensus that the global goals are good for business. 

 

Some companies are working on the risks and opportunities.

 

Aviva says they are divesting from fossil fuels and investing in renewables to help avoid what its chief executive, Mark Wilson, says are “eye-watering” financial risks . Aviva are just one of many, including the Rockefeller Foundation, who join the trend of fossil fuel divestment as a means of securing future growth.  

 

A recent Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management study (the biggest to the date) echoes joint Harvard and London Business Schools’ paper that shows a positive correlation between corporate financial performance (CFP) and environmental and social governance (ESG).

 

The primary opportunity that the global goals present is the potential to connect a model of financial return with society’s biggest challenges. Business is no longer asked to donate to the cause, but rather invest for an anticipated return. The returns come in the form of economic and social gains. This is a unique opportunity to create a system change by using effective market mechanisms.

 

The second major opportunity is innovation. I’m not going to preach for the likes of Patagonia, Unilever and Interface. It’s a common sense that having a purpose beyond profit coupled with hunger for innovation has brought them great rewards.

 

The third opportunity I’d mention is increased employee engagement and talent retention. Motivated and dedicated colleagues is the main asset of any business and a growth engine.

 

Whilst acknowledging that there is a clear business case for the global goals, I wonder what do we need to make them a reality?

 

The biggest challenge indeed lies on the implementation stage. There is a lot of tension – on one hand, there is a desire to make goals non prescriptive and give companies creative license in how they interpret their approach to them. Business however operates best if there is a clear framework.

 

Such circumstances mean that the recently-formed Business and Sustainable Development Commission is to play a pivotal role in navigating the tension between offering the necessary guidance and providing the flexibility and space for businesses to find their own way to commercialise the goals. It may be directing that strain; the goals succeed or fail for business.

 

Elina Yumasheva is head of content at The Crowd. 

 
  • twitter
  • fb
  • stumble
  • linkedin
  • reddit
  • email

Pages