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Why the SDGs are commercially relevant to businesses

Launched in 2015, and endorsed by more than 190 governments, the SDGs (The UN Sustainable Development Goals) are a set of 17 global priorities, ranging from growth, sustainable cities and climate change, to poverty, health and education.

Taken together, the SDGs represent a global strategy for sustainable growth that provides business with a long- term direction of intent.

The commercial implications for businesses:

  1. Decrease of natural ecosystems, increasingly limited resources and climate-related impacts and shocks are likely to affect business models and continuity.

  1. Changing consumer expectations, preferences and lifestyles, accelerated by digital innovation, could disrupt many sectors.

  1. Stronger environmental regulation may affect current models of profitability but also create new opportunities for innovation and market growth.

Examples by sectors - Commercial outcomes of moving towards a sustainable economy by 2030:

FMCG packaging:

-Increasingly improved wellbeing represents one of the potentiallybiggest commercial opportunities, where healthier consumables using environmentally sound packaging can be expected to attract more revenue.

-Companies that have strategies based on bio-based materials and increasingly efficient business models stand to benefit from higher taxes on inefficient or conventional plastic products, especially compared with resource-intensive and fossil-fuel-based competitors.

-Environmental regulation and taxation will improve the comparative position of companies that offer a competitive low carbon product portfolio. They will also benefit from a race to the top to reduce their carbon footprint.


-Retailers will have the opportunity to expand their offerings into services that facilitate a sharing economy.

-New markets for growth will emerge for retailers that can use their scale and public reach, for example to mobilise the uptake of onsite renewable energy production.

-Economic inclusivity will give rise to new market opportunities and new sustainably-sourced products to service new, middle class consumers.

-A major health and wellbeing economy will emerge and provide opportunities for food, tech, healthcare and advice, as people take more control over their own health and wellbeing

For business to succeed, a more holistic approach is needed, whereby the SDGs are presented as a vision for the future of business, identifying opportunities for future growth, and framing strategy for problem solving.

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