As countries are tasked to incorporate the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their legislative and policy frameworks, businesses must respond. Several of the SDGs focus specifically on the environment, including greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, life on land and underwater, and energy consumption.
The UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is working with the World Resources Institute (WRI) on ‘Climate Watch,’ an interactive platform providing data and visualizations on countries’ efforts towards achieving their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Data includes current and historic GHG emissions and country progress on meeting climate pledges.
The effect on corporations is demonstrated by CSE client Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), the UK’s leading health and beauty retailer. Each WBA corporate social responsibility goal maps to one or more SDG. Because the goals relate to and interconnect with the business and its community outreach globally, WBA addresses many SDGs, focusing on areas where it can have significant impact. For example, Boots UK committed to reducing CO2 emissions by 30% between 2005 and 2020, responding to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales’ 2007 challenge and is on track to reach this emissions reduction target at Boots stores.
To meet SDG mandates is fostering changes in regulations around environmental disclosure, according to Scott McClurg, head of energy and sustainability at HSBC, another of CSE’s clients. And, in addition to growing regulatory pressure to engage with the environmental agenda, there is a strong pull from government and stakeholders for corporations to report their sustainability efforts.
“It comes down to economics,” McClurg says. He believes that businesses looking for opportunities to outperform competitors see innovation around sustainability and environment as areas they can use to improve their competitive advantage.
HSBC and Walgreens demonstrate what many CSE clients, representing most of the Fortune Global 500, are facing. As taught in CSE’s Sustainability Practitioner Program, aligning corporate initiatives with the SDGs is an effective way of addressing stakeholder concerns for the environment. Reporting those efforts, as CSE research has demonstrated, links closely to improved financial performance. CSE is proud to help corporations, with trainings and consulting, to incorporate the SDGs in a socially and fiscally responsible manner.
CSE’s next UK presentation of their Certified Sustainability (CSR) Practitioner Program, Advanced Edition 2018, will be held in London, 1-2 March 2018.