Three steps to accelerate your journey towards sustainability

Stakeholder capitalism is here. Customers’ moral compass can leave you in the cold if you lose sight of the forests and the environment. This new way of sustaining the economy will require organizations to consider all the stakeholders who are impacted by the business, while giving them a voice and keeping them satisfied with the actions and outcomes.

Being socially responsible and contributing to a circular economy has always made good business sense. Environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) started way back in 2005, and today, more than 90% of the S&P 500 now reports on it. However, in the next decade, organizations will increasingly face strict compliance, regulations, and mandates that will lead to a transformation to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations’ 2030 agenda.

This is why a multifaceted and ambitious journey lies ahead for all businesses. There will be some obstacles and challenges to be overcome, but there’s also opportunities waiting to be discovered.

The U.N. SDGs are still in their early days, but the reality is such that the 2030 agenda has become a directive that requires serious time and collaboration to fulfill. In other words, continuous improvement and incremental innovation will simply not cut it. Extensive innovation — and, in some cases, reimagining a new future — will be required for organizations to have a chance of hitting the mark. An innovation revolution is to effectively communicate the grand challenge that lies ahead.

Here are three practical steps to spotlight sustainability and leverage the U.N. SDGs to amplify your innovation investments, according to Ludwig Melik, a Forbes Councils Member.

1. Create your SDGs power couple. A siloed sustainability team will help you in the process, but it has to work alongside the innovation team.

The SDGs require the organization to change the way it works in more ways than one, and what better way to start than by combining its innovation and sustainability teams at the hip to achieve alignment between corporate strategy and creative problem-solving.

Bringing together both teams can result in a value-creation relationship that delivers purpose-based solutions for the organization and society, a win-win in its purest form.

2. Treat the SDGs as nesting dolls. The aim of disruptive innovation is to create fundamental change. Instead of doing an extra effort to bring new ideas to life, smart innovators know how to make the most of what they already have. To create more impactful and valuable solutions, look for ways to unlock additional value from an existing idea.

3. Align emerging tech with the SDGs. On the one hand, you have the SDGs. On the other hand, you have the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) that’s characterized by the unprecedented pace of technological advances such as 3-D and 4-D printing, virtual and augmented reality, big data and the Internet of Things (IoT), to name a few.

Tech scouting initiatives usually suffer from two challenges — they don’t get enough support from executives, and they don’t connect to the business. The combination of emerging technologies with the SDGs can guide your tech scouting efforts to ensure your corporate venturing program is focused on delivering value that is easier to quantify and clearly aligns with the corporate strategy.

As Francois-Henri Pinault said: “Sustainable development is a fundamental break that’s going to reshuffle the entire deck. There are companies today that are going to dominate in the future simply because they understand that.”

Now is an opportune moment to take on a pioneering role in your industry and transform your organization — and the world — for the better. Your community and society at large, will thank you for it.

To build a more sustainable future for our children and the next generations, everyone’s participation is essential. That is why, at eSmart Recycling, we believe in partnerships between the public and private sector. We could not deliver equipment to at-risk kids and families in the same way if many players in the community were not involved; from our corporate partners, to our nonprofit partners. 

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