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Mainstreaming SDGs In Business World

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The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) played a major role in channelising global attention towards fundamental development issues. As the MDGs transitioned into Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it has given way to a set of 17 integrated and indivisible goals which are broader and more ambitious in scope.

The Indian economy boasts of a vibrant growth story and is dependent on various socio-economic and environmental factors. India is pivotal to the eventual outcome of SDGs. Many of the Indian government’s schemes and policies, and their strategic vision for achieving prosperity are linked to these SDGs. It will be imperative to develop creative models that mainstream SDGs in India and further accelerate the nation’s efforts in achieving the global development goals. Some keypoints in mainstreaming SDGs include:

  1. Development communication of SDGs: A critical factor for the slow progress achieved by MDGs was the lack of awareness among the general public about them. It is necessary to inspire new communication means and bring together different actors to communicate the SDGs by bridging the gap between policy experts, campaigners, and communication experts. Further, ‘localisation’ of the goals is imperative to allow people around India’s diverse landscape to take ownership of their development agenda. NGOs can play a significant role in communicating the SDGs to the local public by employing social storytelling. There is tremendous scope for the government and development organisations to make SDGs comprehensible to the widerpopulace.
  2. Big data and digital connectedness for developing effective solutions: Mainstreaming SDGs demands a digitally connected India. Building national data banks on fundamental development challenges like poverty, hunger and education among other which are accessible and scalable by multi-sector organisations is critical. This is a fairly untapped resource and can enable organisations to amplify the awareness of SDGs through effective knowledge-sharing.
  3. Importance of engaging youth in actioning solutions on SDGs: Youth possess the sensitivity andenergy to develop innovative social solutions and catalyze chain reactions of positive change. Youth-led organisations are critical in translation, implementation and review of SDGs into local, national and regional policy and holding the government accountable. The United Nations has also placed a particular focus on youth with regard to SDGs and considers them to be a key partner in the achievement of the goals
  4. Importance of partnerships between Government, Corporates, NGOs and Academia: Multi-stakeholder partnerships at global, national and local levels have a key role to play in mobilising and sharing knowledge, expertise, technologies and financial resources to support the achievement of SDGs. Governments alone cannot achieve the agenda and can be assisted by corporates who possess the requisite business skills, resources and knowledge.

Corporates and SDGs:                         

The 17 goals are directly or indirectly relevant for business. It has been well realised that the private sector has an important role to play in tackling social issues. The efforts being put in by the government and the civil society to combat these problems by finding new solutions need to be augmented by the business sector. The SDGs represent an unprecedented opportunity for companies to align their own sustainability goals with broader societal goals. Apart from having a broader perspective, SDGs have explicitly recognised the key roles of science, technology innovation (STI), along with information and communications technology (ICT), industrialisation and infrastructure in India’s socio-economic development, making corporates the harbingers of development in the country.

There is a high level of SDG awareness among the business community, along with opportunities to convert this awareness into action. In the private sector, commitment to social responsibility implies a dedication to transparent reporting of the organisation’s business impact on planet and people besides profit. Corporates are now aligning their strategies with the SDGs and adopting the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) approach, which is a proactive step in providing increased transparency and a broader framework for decision making. It can help organisations measure, understand and communicate their sustainability performance towards the SDGs.

Successful execution of SDGs will also build up the ecosystem for doing business and building markets. In addition to being in agreement with new national and international policies, corporates getting engaged with SDGs are more likely to find resilient and sustainable business models.

In 2014, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) had estimated that if the SDGs are to be successful, they will require between $3.3 and $4.5 trillion in funding each year in the developing world alone. At the current level of funding from both the public and private sectors, there is still a funding gap that needs to be filled.

Banks play a vital role in directing funds to projects which have the potential to impact society/environment and therefore have a critical role to play in areas of Climate Change and Environmental finance. Banks in India are increasingly incorporating environmental and social aspects in their credit risk framework. This not only helps reduce project vulnerability but also presents potential opportunity to contribute to the SDGs. Banks are also coming up with Green Bonds and Blue Bonds to enable effective water infrastructure management and augmentation.

Critical role of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in mainstreaming SDGs:

More and more companies are taking up social programs leading to overall development through CSR. Corporate Foundationsin India should work to advance sustainable development by taking a conscious collaborative approach to SDGs. In addition to fostering collaboration, corporates can help SDG efforts through advocacy, facilitating implementation, helping to identify ways to measure success of the programs, etc. Through CSR, corporates can also support social innovations, bringing business expertise to develop solutions to mitigate chronic social issues.

One of the real benefits of the SDGs is that, for the first time, the world has universal development goals, representing a pivotal shift in development paradigms. Equally important, the goals reflect the interconnectedness of social, economic and environmental challenges providing the world with an opportunity to tackle them. The SDGs provide a great opportunity to achieve India’s social transformation in a short period of time if all stakeholders come together and work towards it.

Prerana Langa is the CEO of Yes Foundation, social development arm of Yes Bank. She developed YES! i am the CHANGE, a mindset transformation project, innovatively using the medium of films to ignite the spirit of driving positive social change amongst the youth enabling them to become agents of social change.

Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.

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The CSR Journal Team