On 22 May, we co-hosted a one day workshop with UKSSD partners DNVGL to explore what more is needed to move business from talk to action on the delivering the Sustainable Development Goals.

The workshop convened a variety of businesses and UKSSD partners to explore how they had approached the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and what further opportunities we could identify for collaborative action.

Delegates heard from Peter Hughes, Director of Sustainability at Pearson, about the impressive work they have done to use the SDGs as a starting point for internal consultations, mapping and the production of a new sustainability strategy. The process Peter outlined demonstrated that engagement at senior levels is beneficial integrating the SDGs within business but that consultations and staff workshops also help to create internal interest. Like many organisations Pearson’s strategy started from the goals and issues that are material to them and evolved from there. Pearson have now adopted the sustainability strategy as the starting point for their new business strategy – one of the only examples we’ve seen of the SDGs being embedded in a business of their scale in this way.

We also heard from Dr Richard Spencer, Head of Sustainability at the ICAEW. Richard shared his experience of working collaboratively with other organisations through the Natural Capital Coalition (NCC). He emphasised an important point that the targets and indicators for the goals can act as a barrier or restrict engagement within business - to counter this we must focus on the vision of the world presented by the SDGs. The NCC and other initiatives demonstrate that effective collaboration needs a common purpose to unite organisations with different interests and skills.

After lunch delegates were given the opportunity to select their afternoon workshops. We hadn’t anticipated that the most popular was on mapping and strategy but it was evidence that many businesses are still grappling with getting started on this. It was also clear that there are several tools to support business with this process but  more can be done to share experiences and processes in non-competitive forums like our own.

The two smaller workshops looked at the themes of planet and prosperity within the SDGs and explored collaboration opportunities. One of the outcomes of these sessions was the idea that UKSSD could coordinate a campaign to shadow report on progress against the SDGs to support better understanding of what progress means for the UK.

While the day itself was filled with discussion, it was summed up perfectly by Jason from DNVGL when he said he was a bit disappointed that there is still so much to do. It also showed us that UKSSD partners tend to be much more open to collaboration because they already have some understanding of their own role, offering and capacities to work with others on the SDGs. The challenge for UKSSD is how we can work to get more organisations to the stage our partners are at while facilitating action and collaboration for those who are ready to act.

UKSSD partners are given priority places at most of our events, if you would like to hear about open events please join our mailing list or visit our events pageIf you would like to become a partner please contact us