This year the planet has New Year’s Resolutions – 17 of them in fact – and they’re big.

In January, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals) kicked in, setting out a shared global vision for a healthy, fair, sustainable economy out to 2030. 

Virgin Unite, leadership, global goals, UN

These Global Goals call for a step-change in how we tackle major development challenges. The vision behind them is bold, the challenge ahead huge: “End extreme poverty. Fight inequality and injustice. Fix climate change.”

It will take a massive team effort to achieve the Goals, so to build momentum and get people onboard, a celebrity-backed campaign is targeting schools, businesses and citizens to “make the Goals famous” and drive action.

Centre-stage in making change happen will be the private sector – but this isn’t about philanthropy. It’s a one-of-a-kind opportunity for proactive companies to deliver real impact by supporting the Goals through their core business. The recently launched Global Commission on Business and Sustainable Development led by Unilever CEO Paul Polman and members of the B Team (co-founded and co-chaired by Richard Branson) to name a few, is mapping out how.

Some companies have been doing this for a while. In our work with Electrolux, Scania, Ericsson, RB and others, One Stone has found that solving global challenges is a powerful way to show purpose and create value for business and society. We’ve captured how many leading firms are thinking big about the Global Goals in a briefing paper. The business takeaway? That companies aligned with the new agenda are gaining reputational kudos and winning huge early-mover advantage in tomorrow’s markets, while doing good. 

We see three promising areas where companies can take the lead:

  • Meeting unmet needs
  • Accelerating and scaling
  • Becoming net positive

HindustanUnilever, Vodafone and Electrolux are increasing wellbeing, tackling poverty and combating climate change while building new markets, raising spending power and gaining market share.

Ericsson, KeringCarlsberg and Tetra Pak are working collaboratively to achieve shared goals to scale and accelerate positive change by driving uptake of innovation, influencing the value chain, and building infrastructure and capacity.

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The Green Fiber biodegradable bottle, a joint innovation from Carlsberg’s Circular Community with ecoXpac

Another way of supporting the goals is the pioneering efforts by Kingfisher Group, Coca-Cola and NAB to decouple business growth from environmental impacts and become net positive. Changing what gets measured and how decisions are made is a crucial step on the sustainable value creation journey.

To the prize of solving problems and opening new markets, you can now add the motivation of shareholder expectations. Investors like Allied Trust have started asking about corporate activity around the SDGs – no doubt the first of many as momentum around the Goals builds.

So think big, get creative and make it your mission to help the planet meet the 2030 Goals. It’s everybody’s business.
 

– By Fran van Dijk and Andrea Spencer-Cooke

– This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details.

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