Delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals: The inclusive business approach

A business lens on the Sustainable Development Goals

In September 2015, world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and committed to 17 goals to eradicate poverty, promote peace and equality, fuel inclusive growth, and protect the environment.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) advocates that the SDGs present a historic opportunity for businesses to engage more deeply as a strong and positive influence on society.

As an engine of economic growth  and employment and a source of technology and innovation, business has a critical role to play and a self-interest in contributing to delivering the SDGs. First and foremost, business cannot succeed in societies that fail and therefore has a vested interest in stable and prosperous societies. By developing a better understanding and proactively addressing the SDGs, companies will be able to better manage their risks, anticipate consumers’ demand, secure access to needed resources, differentiate themselves from competitors, and strengthen their supply chains.

In essence, the SDGs can help to connect business strategies with global priorities. Companies can use the SDGs as an overarching framework to shape, steer, communicate and report on their strategies, goals and activities, allowing them to capitalize on a range of benefits such as identifying future business opportunities; enhancing the value of corporate sustainability; strengthening stakeholder relations and keeping pace with policy developments; stabilizing societies and markets; and using a common language and shared purpose with stakeholders.

The WBCSD is strongly engaged in translating the SDGs’ ambitions and words into business action underpinned by business solutions: business-led ventures that are impactful, scalable, measurable, replicable, and going beyond business as usual.
A tangible example of a solution is inclusive business, a term coined by the WBCSD in 2005 referring to ventures that go beyond philanthropy by integrating low-income communities into companies’ value chains as customers, suppliers, retailers, and distributors. 

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"Pursuing sustainable development makes companies more competitive, more resilient and adaptable in a fast-changing world, and more prepare for the future."