Harnessing the Sustainable Development Goals for Businesses: A Progressive Framework for Action

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Businesses, as with other sectors in society, are not yet taking sufficient action towards achieving sustainability. The United Nations recently agreed upon a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which

Businesses, as with other sectors in society, are not yet taking sufficient action towards achieving sustainability. The United Nations recently agreed upon a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which if properly harnessed, provide a framework (so far lacking) for businesses to meaningfully drive transformations to sustainability. This paper proposes to operationalize the SDGs for businesses through a progressive framework for action with three discrete levels: communication, tactical, and strategic. Within the tactical and strategic levels, several innovative approaches are discussed and illustrated. The challenges of design and measurement as well as opportunities for accountability and the social side of Sustainability, together call for transdisciplinary, collective action. This paper demonstrates feasible pathways and approaches for businesses to take corporate social responsibility to the next level and utilize the SDG framework informed by sustainability science to support transformations towards the achievement of sustainability.