It was a political milestone in 2015 when all member states of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At the heart of the agenda are 17 sustainability goals, the so-called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which, with their total of 169 subgoals, are intended to contribute to sustainable development at the economic, social and ecological levels. 

These goals call for collective action to address the most pressing global challenges, such as hunger and poverty, but also equality and environmental sustainability. They aim to improve education and health, protect oceans and forests, and promote economic growth – all by 2030. Progress toward the goals will be concretized and measured with the help of national sustainability strategies. In order to achieve these extremely ambitious goals, non-state actors are also called upon. But what does this mean for companies?

Companies are important players in implementation

The SDGs are comprehensive and for the first time bring environmental sustainability, climate protection and poverty onto a common agenda. Many of the declared goals directly affect business enterprises. For example, sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all are to be promoted. In addition, the aim is to build a resilient infrastructure and enable sustainable industrialization. 

At the same time, sustainable consumption and production patterns are to be ensured. This makes it clear that companies are key players in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the achievement of its Sustainable Development Goals. This includes all industries and is not limited to large corporations. In this context, the SDGs can also be seen as a kind of orientation aid for companies to align processes and structures with sustainable development. But what advantages do the SDGs offer? And how can companies contribute to achieving them?

Innovation, sustainability, attractiveness – the SDGs offer numerous opportunities.

The implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals offers companies a wide range of concrete benefits. For example, they can promote innovation within the company and focus on future opportunities and business areas. At the same time, potential risks associated with economic, social and environmental change are better identified and can be addressed at an early stage. In addition, the declared alignment to the SDGs can sustainably improve the reputation and attractiveness of the company, but also the corporate culture. 

This has an impact not only on employees and customers, but also on suppliers, business partners and investors. In order to align the company holistically with the SDGs, all managers must first develop a common understanding of the importance of these goals. Subsequently, those goals are prioritized which have the highest relevance for the company, in order to finally develop concrete strategies to achieve them. In this way, every company can make its contribution to a sustainable future for all of us.