In an open letter to the Prime Minister, more than 80 leading companies have united in a call on the government to demonstrate its commitment to delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Among the group of forward-thinking companies were Coca-Cola, Dong Energy, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Nestlé and Ikea.
Ahead of the World Economic Forum annual meeting taking place on 17-20 January, businesses say they are ready to work with the government to help deliver the SDGs in the UK as well as internationally, but that the government must create a framework to help businesses play their part.
Interestingly, the letter is published on the same day that the Business and Sustainable Development Commission published its own flagship report on the business case for achieving sustainable and inclusive growth, and quantifying the value of private sector opportunities aligned with the SDGs.
Nick Davies, founder of social platform Neighbourly and one of the 80 companies that penned the open letter, said in a blog: “At Neighbourly, we absolutely know that today’s great companies don’t just want to contribute — they’re ready to collaborate and build a powerful coalition for change but need the support of government and citizens to help unlock society’s true potential. So, it’s wonderful to see such an emphatic demonstration of a desire to work in partnership using the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for success.”
“I believe the UK Government should seize this opportunity to work with business to help shape an inclusive community action plan that works for all. We look forward to working with this inspiring network of businesses, NGOs and academics to advance sustainable development and help facilitate the delivery of the SDGs in the UK.”
The letter was coordinated by the UK Stakeholders in Sustainable Development (UKSSD), a non-profit network of businesses, NGOs and academics working towards sustainable development in the UK.
“The challenge of achieving sustainability are complex and intertwined. Tackling them takes a cross-sector, multidisciplinary and coordinated approach. The Sustainable Development Goals give us a universal framework to ensure that everyone committed to sustainability is singing from the same hymn sheet. They’re not about overseas development; they’re about sustainability everywhere. And to give the SDGs their best chance of success in the UK, we need a clear and concrete demonstration from government that it has embraced the Goals,” commented Juliet Davenport, founder and CEO of Good Energy.
Tanya Steele, chief executive for WWF-UK also weighed in on the action, emphasizing how sustainable business is smart business. “It’s good business to be fit for the future and consider long-term prosperity alongside the well-being of generations to come. Our current business models too often plunder and pollute the world’s natural resources with devastating consequences for our planet…By developing more sustainably, the UK can play an important international leadership role – and UK businesses are natural leaders.”
The letter sends a clear message to the government that companies across the UK are ready to step up and play their part in the crusade for a more sustainable, circular economy. The hope is that by working together to achieve the SDGs, businesses and governments will be able to transform the current business-as-usual landscape and deliver a future in which people and the environment thrive.
A similar effort has taken shape in the U.S., where 530 companies and 100 investors — from Fortune 500 firms to small family-owned businesses — recently called upon the Trump administration and Congress to support policies to accelerate a low-carbon future. But unlike their counterparts in the UK, US enterprises might have to bear the burden of transitioning the economy on their own.