Better Retail Better World: the bridge to 2030

To announce their partnership with UKSSD, Leah Riley Brown from the British Retail Consortium shares their new initiate Better Retail Better World, a piece of work that brings together and scales the actions of retailers to support the SDGs.

The bridge to 2030 is still being built.

Work started nearly 18 years ago when the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were instated by the United Nations (UN). As of 2015, the MDGs were replaced with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the eight goals have become 17. A move which needs more companies, nation states and other stakeholders to work together to tackle some of the planet’s biggest issues.

Better Retail Better World is an initiative to help the retail industry on the journey to 2030. The BRC created this initiative using the SDGs as a framework to drive greater collaborative work by the UK retail industry and establish where the gaps are to do more. The primary aim of the initiative is collaboration; as the UN states, “no one can do this alone and we need partnerships and collaboration as never before.”

Over 25 retailers with a combined turnover of £150bn have signed up to Better Retail Better World, which focuses on:

  • Collaboration: signalling to the market the scale of demand for change.

  • Sharing best practice: helping all businesses hear the successful, and not so successful, actions to take.

  • Public disclosure: enabling everyone to judge progress and hold the retail industry to account.

So why is this so significant?

The retail sector is one of the first industries to take collective action in this way. The first stage of Better Retail Better World is multi-stakeholder collaboration. The BRC is currently working with its members as well as government and NGOs to unify action together. The BRC has also joined UKSSD to help bolster the calls to government and to help progress the SDGs in the UK.

Better Retail Better World is taking the journey to 2030 in manageable chunks. The first set of core actions stretch to 2020; at which point, industry actions will be reviewed and revised every two years to ensure the initiative keeps up with a rapidly changing world.

The initiative focuses on ten industry actions, which are based on five of the SDGs where retail has the most impact (positive or negative) and which demonstrate the huge breadth of retail operations and influence. Our ten industry actions cover a huge range of issues and demonstrate the scope both SDGs and the issues and challenges facing retailers (e.g. modern slavery, responsible sourcing, employment practices, climate change, resource efficiency and sustainable communities).

While individual retailers are leading the charge to build sustainable businesses and supply chains, the industry recognises scale is essential to drive change and has come together under our new and goals.

What’s next?

Looking ahead, signatories to Better Retail Better World will be supported by workshops, guidance (such as our SDGs member checklist) and ongoing discussions with our expert stakeholders. We’ll be regularly reporting progress and we want to establish an advisory council of leading experts from outside of the industry to ensure actions we take keep us on the right path.

Everyone needs to do their part from Government, private sector, civil society to members of the public. We all need to work collectively to get to the end goal of tackling the planet’s biggest issues. Better Retail Better World is just one initiative, but as more and more companies come together, the faster we will collectively get across the bridge.

To find out more about Better Retail Better World please contact Leah Riley Brown