As COVID 19 vaccination rates continue to increase, the world moves towards some level of normality following the seismic upheavals of 2020 and the global pandemic. Here, in Australia, our impact was limited but our economic recovery and rebound has been remarkable given where we were 12 months ago. As global populations are being vaccinated the pressure mounts to open up and move on from the pandemic induced recessions.
Pre pandemic, slowly but very surely, momentum was building with global economies, industries and organisations, driving change towards a sustainable future. This focus followed the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Over the next fifteen years countries will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind. Fulfilling these goals will take an unprecedented effort by all sectors in society — and business must play a very important role in the process.
Achieving the Global Goals would create a world that is sustainable, socially fair, environmentally secure, economically prosperous and inclusive. They provide a viable model for long-term growth, if businesses move towards them together.
In Australia and across several Beilby Downing Teal client’s organisations are driving change, supporting the sustainable benefits of the SDG’s and seeking to become more sustainable and responsible organisations.
A terrific example of this is Port Waratah Coal Services (Port Waratah), which operates the largest coal export terminal in the world. In discussions with their Manager Sustainability & Corporate Affairs, Trudie Larnach recently, Trudie stated “Port Waratah has a strong history of embracing sustainability and engaging with all stakeholders, be they internal or external, and we had begun our own sustainability journey prior to aligning with the SDG’s” .
In 2016, when the SDG’s came into existence, the sustainability practices of Port Waratah highlighted a strong alignment and an “official” commitment was made.
Trudie added “further analysis showed that as we have been integrating sustainability into our business as usual practices and implementing systems, programs and initiatives we found that we were touching 14 of the 17 SDG’s. It then became, for us, how can we embed these in everything that we undertake. This highlighted the need for collaboration and developing partnerships with other local businesses and across the resources sector in general”.
In 2020 Port Waratah signed a Memorandum of Understanding with five other leading organisations to grow and improve the localisation of the SDG agenda across the region. Trudie concluded, “there is no right or wrong way to go about supporting and aligning your business with the Sustainable Development Goal program and with 17 goals supporting more than 231 indicators it is daunting. However our approach was and is ensuring sustainability considerations are integrated into our day-to-day operations and are underpinned by our business strategy, values and drivers for success”. Trudie noted “integrating sustainability makes good business sense and encourages other organisations to engage with goals and their stakeholders to support achievement of their business vision and purpose”.
Other companies are also taking inspiration from the global goals to establish new ambitious business strategies, transforming their business models and purpose to align with the 2030 agenda. This approach is gaining momentum but it still needs to be mainstreamed and become the “New Normal“ for running a business.
How can your business join the “New Normal”?
- Assess the impact of your company against the seventeen SDGs and identify related risks and opportunities across your entire value chain.
- Hold a meeting of the board (or the executive management team) to set goals and targets specific to your company that align with sustainable development.
- Tell shareholders and other stakeholders the goals your company has set to contribute to the SDGs and progress made, also analysts and other influencers.
- Engage all your employees in advancing the SDG’s through their own work and distribute responsibilities across the entire organisation for achieving progress.
- Show your commitment by including SDG education and branding in your products, communication materials, and annual report.
Like Port Waratah has demonstrated, this terrific quote below from the current UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres shows the power in localising the effort of the global goals.
“Through the Sustainable Development Goals, the international community has committed to build a peaceful and prosperous future for all on a healthy planet. To achieve these goals we need private sector engagement and leadership. Around the world innovation investment and partnerships are driving transformation. Let us build on this momentum and make the Global Goals local business”.
For all of us, our New Normal post pandemic must embrace or re-embrace the SDG’s to ensure prosperity and well-being for all….including the planet!
Article written by Stuart Chandler, CFR Global Executive Search Australia
(See below link for more information on the SDG’s and how business can align and embrace their take-up)