Sustainable Development Goals and business - integrating sustainable practices

Stakeholders now expect businesses to be more transparent and accountable with regard to sustainability. Liz Minshall talks about the Sustainable Development Goals and discusses how businesses can get involved.

The value of non-financial reporting and the importance of transparency are becoming more widely regarded, as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were introduced in 2015, are starting to gain momentum, and stakeholders now expect businesses to be more transparent and accountable with regard to sustainability.

An increasing number of discussions are taking place around the need for businesses to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs, and the benefits of incorporating these into core business models. It is important to note that the goals not only apply to big businesses, as small and medium sized companies are also being encouraged to use the SDGs and the SDG compass to adopt and integrate sustainable practices into reporting mechanisms.

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

In 2015, the United Nations agreed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include 169 targets. These goals focus on tackling global priority issues, including: climate change, poverty, water quality and access, and inequality. The agenda is set for 2030 and, although not legally binding, provide global objectives.

Why should you consider adopting the SDGs?

Many businesses see the value of investing in sustainability and making a positive contribution. Initiatives can reduce the risk of non-compliance and reputational damage, or enhance reputation and subsequent market gains.

How can you get Involved?

A number of companies have already adopted the SDGs to define, deliver and report against ambitious strategies to tackle global issues.


82% of blue chip companies surveyed highlighted climate, good health and reduced inequality as their top priorities.

– Gold Standard and WWF, Business and the Sustainable Development Goals: Best practices to seize opportunity and maximise credibility


They can be used to implement monitoring and evaluation to drive better decision making around sustainable initiatives. By adopting the SDGs companies will be aligned with the sustainable development goals of governments, NGOs and investors. They also provide a common disclosure set.

These goals are also being adopted by businesses to drive improvements in supply chain performance, as supply chain activities can account for a substantial part of business operations and have a significant impact on sustainability issues. Often the supply chain is where the most at risk individuals or communities are affected by a business’s operations.

It may be difficult for companies to focus and target action on all 17 goals. It is therefore important to review, understand and prioritise; some goals may not be achievable or be material to your business’s activity. Once the goals have been identified, look at practical initiatives that can create a positive impact. With several of the goals focussing on no poverty or inequalities, the work within your business’s direct operations could extend to the supply chain. For example; no poverty – applying minimum wages within your company and promoting fair pay within the supply chain.

Some examples of activities implemented by companies include:

  • committing to use 100% renewably-sourced electricity within the next few years
  • phasing out of petrol and diesel fuelled cars
  • incorporating water management within product development
  • implementing apprentice schemes for young people in poor and ethnic minority communities
  • working with supply chains to work towards the goals

How can Valpak help?

Valpak’s secure, web-based questionnaire and Insight Platform offers a single platform solution where businesses can collate and manage both supplier and product data, and produce useful, bespoke reports that can help to build a clear picture of business environmental performance and legal responsibilities.

To find out more about our service and how it can help you to meet your business’s key objectives, contact us today for more information or book in a demo.