Opportunities and Challenges of Applying the SDGs to Business

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Current efforts to drive business Sustainability are improving but still falling short of the transformational impact needed. This paper explores the potential of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Current efforts to drive business Sustainability are improving but still falling short of the transformational impact needed. This paper explores the potential of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to contribute to improved business Sustainability. Research revealed significant challenges including: a disconnect between the design of the SDGs and the needs of businesses, significant measurement difficulties and an already existing momentum to integrate the SDGs without disrupting the status quo. The big opportunity is that the SDGs are a universally agreed upon definition of Sustainability which fully integrates the “social” side. The specificity and structure of the SDGs also creates the opportunity for accountability based on outcomes and impacts rather than inputs and the development of businesses strategies with the potential for transformation. Work is needed to transform the SDGs themselves into a tool which can usefully contribute to business Sustainability, but the opportunities suggest it will be worthwhile.