Using Enterprise-Class Software to Foster the Sustainable Development Goals

July 01, 2016

Also known as the ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, the UN General Assembly  adopted a new and ambitious set of 17 global development goals in September 2015: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With a 2030 deadline, and sub-divided into 169 targets, these goals replace the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) established in the year 2000, and aim to cover the most critical global issues requiring immediate action from the international community.

While political will and cooperation will be critical to create the policy instruments necessary to advance towards the SDGs at the local, national and international levels, the commitment from a much wider range of stakeholders (activist groups, NGOs, consumer organizations, corporations etc.), will be equally important.

In the current context, companies, and especially organizations with global operations and extensive supply chains need to consider an increasingly wide range of risks and challenges, many of which are exacerbated by the effects of global warming (we previously hosted a webinar on this issue). From the increasing severity and occurrence of extreme weather events, to the vulnerability of climate-sensitive raw materials and the pressures of an increasingly stringent regulatory environment, businesses worldwide must learn to adapt and build resilience.

As key stakeholders, corporate actors have much to gain from aligning their goals with those of the international development agenda. By incorporating SDG-inspired goals into their strategies, companies are also investing in the future in a both ‘business-smart’ and collectively beneficial way, while building resilience to future risks, fostering reputational benefits, generating employee ownership, and attracting new investment.

Rather than shying away from this set of ‘high-level’ goals, covering vast and complex global issues such as poverty, food and water security, education, and health, companies should use the SDGs as an ‘overarching standard’ or ‘aspirational guide’, against which to measure their CSR strategies and contribute to, through gradual plans and concrete actions. One actionable strategy is to use the already heavily structured SDG framework (with dozens of targets) as inspiration to extract ESG indicators, to be measured, monitored for improvement, and subsequently reported on.

This is also where the benefits of enterprise-class software come in. Managing data to make smarter business decisions can serve to attain multiple social and environmental goals, including key SDG targets.

All solutions within the Enablon enterprise-class software platform fall into the ‘value drivers’ listed below. These 9 key value drivers manage the most critical elements within business activities and can be used as a quick planning guide to tackle specific SDG challenges, such as good health and wellbeing (SDG3), responsible production and consumption (SDG12), or climate action (SDG13):

  • Safe Operations: Ensure safety of your workers, assets, and the community.
  • Fit for Work: Protect workers’ health, plus increase productivity and well-being.
  • Green Facilities: Optimize processes to secure license to operate & meet sustainability goals.
  • Materials for Life: Deliver products compatible with the environment, and the health and safety of both consumers and workers.
  • Collaborative Supply Chain: Increase supplier collaboration and reduce risk in a multi-tier dimension.
  • Brand Protection: Integrate corporate responsibility in order to maximize brand value.
  • Business Efficiency: Make smarter decisions to maximize performance and reduce costs.
  • Enterprise Control: Oversee and manage enterprise-wide operational risk.
  • World-Class Compliance: Operate your enterprise with confidence that it is fully in compliance.

Examples of potential ‘value driver/SDG’ correlations become especially clear when looking at SDG targets:

  • SDG7, target 3: ‘By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency

Within the Green Facilities driver, Enablon’s Utility Data Management Software, for instance, allows companies to manage all utility data in one central location, enabling usage trends to be monitored and visualized over time, optimizing consumption and driving efficiency.

  • SDG8, target 8: ‘Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers(…)

Under the Safe Operations and Fit for Work drivers, Enablon offers a broad range of solutions to ensure compliance and manage the safety and security of employees.

  • SDG6, target 6: ‘Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle

Under the Green Facilities and Brand Protection value drivers, Enablon covers solutions designed to manage a number of critical aspects for efficient environmental performance and reporting ; From air quality, waste, and water management, to sustainability and CSR reporting, and stakeholder management.

The SDGs shine a new light on the most critical global sustainability issues to be tackled. Businesses have never been so active in this area, and there have never been as many opportunities to mitigate risks and drive performance through sustainability.

To go one step further, we encourage you to read the 2016 NAEM Trends Report “Planning for a Sustainable Future”, presenting the key issues that are on the minds of corporate EHS and sustainability leaders today.  Here is an overview of what you’ll find in the report:

“Where companies were once engaging suppliers to reduce sustainability risks, they are now starting to establish business requirements associated with environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance. Where they were once privately assessing their exposure to climate risk, companies are now publicly advocating for policy solutions. Where they were once recognizing the limits of existing systems, they are now partnering with others to change the rules of the game altogether.”