The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (aka Global Goals) are viewed by most in the sustainability community as the biggest opportunity yet for the world to shape a new and better way of doing business while shaping a new and better world.
From now until 2030, governments, NGOs and companies will be working together to change business practices, build infrastructure and shape society so we can adapt to the challenges posed by climate change, resource scarcity, new technologies, an emerging-economy middle class, greater urbanization and shifting demographics.
All too often, sustainability work remains buried within a company because the marketing or comms department doesn’t think it worthy of a campaign, or doesn’t think a consumer audience will want to know about it. Meanwhile, the sustainability marketing that does take place often makes sustainability professionals uncomfortable because the storytelling pushes the boundaries of what they feel comfortable defending through data and actions.
Aligning sustainability reporting with the Global Goals could address these concerns by delivering concrete metrics and examples within the organization of how companies are approaching individual goals. This reporting would then provide a research platform for the comms and marketing department to develop sustainability storytelling that brings these metrics to life. The entire process would be trackable and transparent. What’s more, marketing campaigns could guide interested consumers back to the core sustainability reporting to demonstrate the company’s authenticity and commitment to the goals.
What type of Global Goals stories should companies be telling, then? In our latest Sustainly Trend Briefing, we consider the 17 goals and match them to recent sustainability initiatives and campaigns undertaken by major companies and brands. The case studies include Walmart’s work to reduce poverty through empowering women, adidas’ collaboration with Parley for the Oceans to protect life below water, Pearson’s global efforts to deliver a quality education for all, and Stella Artois’ support for clean water projects.
None of these campaigns and initiatives were developed specifically with the Global Goals in mind. But by showing how current sustainability storytelling mirrors the Goals’ targets, we hope to demonstrate how identifying with them can help companies connect with society.
All of the examples we’ve chosen had real-world implications - i.e. the companies backed up their words with actions. In doing so, they created credible storytelling around issues that will increasingly have an important influence on society and their own companies.
You can read the full Global Goals Trend Briefing at Sustainly.com