5 Ways to Implement the SDGs in Your Organisation

Posted on the 23rd July 2019

The United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda is one of the world’s most recognised and profound commitments to global sustainable transformation. At its core are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which have become the foundation of organisational strategy for many. 

Navigating through the vastness of the SDGs, and their various 169 targets, can be an intimidating task – with actions that are either irrelevant or impractical for organisations to realise. 

However, that does not mean there are no opportunities to scale up on the initiatives that are achievable. There are multiple options and avenues to deliver on the expectations of the SDGs to mitigate the social and environmental impacts of everyday business … like these 5.

Governance & Policy Making

Ideas for change are conceptualised and realised throughout the organisation, but ultimately require sign off from the top. Given the ambitious 2030 deadline for the SDGs; there is a need for urgency on behalf of the decision makers to formalise policies that accelerate SDG implementation. Senior members of staff have the oversight, authority, and the responsibility to build internal capacity to deliver meaningful change. 

Working towards a common goal is needed if the SDGs are going to be delivered efficiently. A clear agenda needs to be established to set the standard, and centralises your business mission. Set real objectives with fixed timeframes, and work towards them.

Examples SDGs you can align with:SDG1

1.b: ‘Create sound policy frameworks at the national, regional and international levels … to support accelerated investment in poverty eradication actions’.



: ‘Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels.’



: ‘Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment.’


Stakeholder Culture

To reinforce the agenda from the top, you need to convince your internal stakeholders – your staff, students, customers, or end-users – about the significance of their everyday impact. So, it is worth creating a culture that is aware of sustainability and considerate of their own impact. 

That being said, motivating and engaging your internal stakeholders has proven to be one of the greater challenges in SDG adoption, as (naturally) people’s time is consumed by work. 

To address this, start with the basics, as transforming a business’s attitude to social value won’t be an overnight process. Focus on implementing changes that won’t add to their workload – these are the fundamentals such as removing plastic items, putting recycling bins in place or using more environmentally friendly transportation.

You can also inspire employees to do more by getting competitive. For example, set up a leader board and offer prizes as incentives. Motivate employees by appealing to their competitive nature.

Examples SDGs you can align with:SDG10

10.4: ‘Adopt policies, especially fiscal, wage and social protection policies, and progressively achieve greater equality.’





12.5: ‘By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.’




: ‘By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally.’


Democratise processes

As noted, to embed social value into a business you need to work towards a culture whereby social impact is created fluidly. Align with the organisation’s mission or vision with the values of stakeholders – open the conversation to your staff and listen to their feedback.

For example, let employees choose your charity partner. While having a ‘charity of the year’ is the norm in corporate circles, asking staff to nominate a chosen charity can help make this process more democratic. Allow staff to vote from a list and partner with the winning charity – this will help with engagement.

You should also listen to their requests when developing employee initiatives. Open the floor to suggestions, allowing employees to make recommendations that are important to them. The most popular ideas are often the most successful.

Examples SDGs you can align with:SDG10

10.3: ‘Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome by eliminated discriminatory laws, politics and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard.’


: ‘Develop effective, accountable, and transparent institutions at all levels.’





16.7: ‘Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels.’



Research & Learning

Proactively support staff by providing them with the skills and knowledge to more substantially have a social impact. Invest in carbon literacy programmes, host SDG workshops, and educate them about sustainability – empower them to become self-motivated sustainability champions.

Take advantage of the various sources of information and technologies to help underpin the implementation of the SDGs. By providing this foundational knowledge behaviours will begin to change both inside and outside the workplace. Allow them to become sustainability advocates in their own right, and they will naturally disseminate their expertise to their peers. 

This will influence their behaviours and will result in business ideas, solutions and innovations that are conscious of sustainability practices, further contributing to the SDGs. 

Examples SDGs you can align with:SDG4

4.7: ‘By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development …’



12.8: ‘By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature.’




13.3: ‘Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning.’


External Authority

Celebrate your achievements, share your experiences, and communicate how you overcame challenges. SDG 13.3 stipulates the need to ‘improve … awareness-raising’ so by simply sharing knowledge, you are inherently contributing to this SDG – an easy win. 

As an extension to this, be open to partnering with social enterprises, charities, or other pro-social companies at all stages of your organisation. Learn from each other, offer solutions and network with like minded people.

Insist that your partner organisations consider and act on the SDGs too. This is the norm in public sector contracts and is becoming more familiar across a wider range of sectors. It is a sure-fire way to help organisations stand out in business circles.

Examples SDGs you can align with:SDG12

12.7: ‘Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities.’


SDG1717.16: ‘Enhance the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development …and share knowledge, expertise, technology and fiscal resources, to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in all countries, in particular developing countries.




17.17: ‘Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resources strategies of partnerships.’


Final thoughts

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve already aligned with 10 out of the 17 SDGs. Aligning with the SDGs is an ever-evolving challenge, but one that will allow you to contribute to the global ambition, effectively. If you need more information of reporting against the SDGs, check out this page on how we can help.


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