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The Business Case to Support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


“It is the absence of broad-based business activity, not its presence, which condemns much of humanity to suffering. Indeed, what is utopian is the notion that poverty can be overcome without the active engagement of business.”

 – Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, 14 June 2005

What is the 2030 Agenda?

The origins of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda stem from decades of work at the United Nations on sustainable development.  Launched in 2000, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were reviewed in 2010 in order to review and accelerate progress on the MDGs and for new ways to advance the UN development agenda beyond 2015. In July 2014, the UN General Assembly Open Working Group (OWG) proposed a document containing 17 goals to be put forward for the General Assembly’s approval in September 2015. This document set the ground for the new SDGs and the global development agenda spanning from 2015-2030.

How is the G7 supporting the 2030 Agenda?

As part of the G7’s priority policies on Sustainable Development – here – The five themes for discussion during Canada’s presidency are:


  • Investing in growth that works for everyone
  • Preparing for jobs of the future
  • Advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment
  • Working together on climate change, oceans and clean energy; and
  • Building a more peaceful and secure world.


Businesses’ engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals

The SDGs (or commonly referred to as Global Goals – being everyone’s business) are recognised as huge opportunities for ‘transforming our world’ and call upon businesses to play a lead part in driving change. However, not enough businesses are actively involved at this stage.

In an ideal world, business would be able to determine how their activities could be tailored to specific goals, measuring their impact and effect improvement. However, studies suggest that there is a fair degree of self-interest in driving SDG selection, where business see their greatest impact and opportunity in areas that will help drive their own business growth.

Despite these challenges, there is a compelling economic case for businesses to engage in achieving the SDGs), including:

  • Significant economic rewards— through new markets, investment opportunities and innovations — if the world tackles challenges including poverty, inequality and environmental stress.


  • Risks to business performance and stability— and increased fragmentation, resource competition and fragility — if the world fails to address these risks.


  • The necessity to work with governments, international organizations and civil society in order to build a future where businesses can perform— with inclusive, sustainable growth and widespread job creation.


What factors will underpin the success of the SDG’s?

The SDG’s represent tremendous opportunities for the private sector to leverage its collective resources to help steer and amplify the development efforts of UN Member States and the international development community.  However, to enhance their prospects of success, governments need to create the right enabling environments both for business to do what it does best, i.e., create economic growth and opportunity and also to create the right collaborative frameworks for business, government and civil society to work productively together to meet social needs when governments cannot meet them by themselves.



Useful links:

What are the Business SDGs? –

SDG Compass – Business Measurement Tool –

Business Case Study – Schneider Electric:

For further details, please contact:

James D. Butler – Business Development Director

CLIMATE CHANGE – The New Economy


Telephone: +44 7432 740836