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Make it your business: 7 steps to make your business and community better

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people in trainingNational stakeholders receive expert training to promote sustainable development in Papua New Guinea. Photo: UNDP Papua New Guinea

2016 is a momentous year for change worldwide. It can be pivotal year for us to turn the tide and act on the major social, economic and environmental issues we face.

As leaders in business, how can companies best contribute to positive social impact and help countries achieve development?

The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be a starting point. Businesses around the world are already starting to focus on the SDGs that are most relevant to their businesses goals and embedding them in their operations. And they are finding it to be commercially beneficial.

Michelin has created an innovative business model to recycle tires,   creating additional revenues and facilitating better resource use. (SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production)

SAB Miller in South Africa engaged with local communities through a ‘beyond the breweries’ approach that helped the company to reduce its water usage by 23 billion liters over a few years. (SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation)

TNT is partnering with the UN in Pakistan and other countries to help reduce hunger through transport, logistics, and warehousing support after earthquakes. (SDG 2: Zero Hunger)

So as a business leader, where might you begin?

1. Start local
Consider the core issues that face your community. For example, many industries in Papua New Guinea lack a trained and skilled indigenous workforce. This prevents citizens from accessing the job market and increases the costs of human resources for companies. International companies operating in the country need to train locals better and transfer more knowledge to communities and workers so that they can find employment opportunities.

2. Select the SDGs that address the issue

Sticking with the labor example, SDG 4 (Quality Education) sets out to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” Target 4.4 provides a useful objective to plan around: “By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship.”

3. Determine how your business can influence the issue
One way to respond? Set up training centers that will equip students, youth, and others with specialized skills. This can be done through private and public sector collaboration, working together with vocational centers and other educational programmes.

4. Involve your team in planning and execution
Determine who in your company or industry can help you achieve your goal. Bring them together to help formulate a sustainable strategy to deliver more effective results. Consider that you will probably be the first to do this, which gives you an advantage and benefits your business reputation. Also think about how to tap into existing models to save costs of production and marketing.

5. Find your partners
Get the word out to relevant stakeholders, including the Government, international organizations, and civil society groups. Host an event to engage with key stakeholders. Contact partners in the UN , who can help you with expertise, contacts, and strategies.

6. Assess impact and progress regularly

As with any business development endeavor, evaluate your progress, learn from mistakes, and tweak your approach as needed. The pressure on companies worldwide to operate sustainably is increasing. Making the business case for using the SDGs to build commercial models that align with international development targets can be more persuasive.

7. Celebrate your success!
Make it public. Inform your clients, employees, community, and peers in the industry and celebrate together with them. Make it a business case and show your wins. Be proud of yourself and your team.

As the UNDP, we stand ready to support you and your business in this journey.

Assel Tleof Roy Trivedy Blog post Sustainable development Development Effectiveness Effective development cooperation Private sector partnerships business partners Partnerships Private sector Asia & the Pacific Papua New Guinea

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