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SDGs and the development of Chinese enterprises

2018-05-11China WTO Tribuneadmin0010

In September 2015, the UN Sustainable Development Summit adopted Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and set the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs clarify the course for the development of human societies before 2030 and identify the prior areas for sustainable development. The achievement of SDGs will solve the most urgent challenges facing us, including ending global poverty, protecting the earth, and enabling everyone to live a decent life.
SDGs outline a bright future. It's an ambitious objective and its achievement requires contributions of all sectors of the society. Among these, enterprises play a unique and essential role. They can implement SDGs actively from two aspects: firstly, reducing negative impacts of enterprise management on human and the earth and at the same time maximizing positive impacts; secondly, taping sustainable development issues covered by SDGs further, seizing the opportunities that SDGs provide for enterprise development based on their main business, thinking innovatively to adjust to the business pattern in the new era, providing new solution and creating shared values.
Compliance, the foundation for responsible operation
Enterprises should operate in compliance. In order to contribute to the achievement of SDGs and to achieve sustainable development, it's important for enterprises to operate responsibly. Compliance is the foundation for responsible operation. It is not only the inevitable requirement for enterprises to compete in global market, but also the only road enterprises must take in order to develop and grow. The achievements won through non-compliance behaviors are just like castles built on the sand beach, which will vanish completely in a compliance storm. Once there is a scandal like "Exhaust Emission Gate" that happened in Volkswagen Group in 2015, the commitments and contributions that enterprises make to sustainable development will be doubted, and enterprises will suffer huge economic losses. Especially, most excellent enterprises will make specific commitments in relevant areas to show their supports to SDGs. These commitments must fit in with the sound development of enterprises, which are not the more, the better, nor the higher the target, the better.
Mapping SDGs based on their own business
Enterprises should analyze the relevance of SDGs to them to decide priorities. Since the launch of SDGs, some enterprises have conducted the mapping to the 17 goals, and some enterprises have gone over their business according to the 17 goals. Seeing from these activities, we can learn that the business and activities of most enterprises are related to these 17 goals. However, for most enterprises, only parts of these goals are highly related to them. Therefore, enterprises can make targeted contributions to achieve these goals based on their own business. As the impacts of enterprises on SDGs are not limited in their own business scopes, enterprises should take the whole value chain as a starting point to conduct business impact evaluation, which requires enterprises to analyze each section of the value chain so as to identify the existing and potential impacts of enterprises' core competitiveness on SDGs. Meanwhile, the activities and actions which exert negative impacts on SDGs in the whole value chain should also be analyzed.
After identifying the highly affected field, enterprises can concentrate on effective resources to deal with the most urgent things. Enterprises should make indexes which can fully represent activities of enterprises and their impacts on sustainable development and collect relevant data in these fields. It would be better if these indexes are set according to the existing most widely used and recognized indexes in the globe. Then enterprises may decide the priority of SDGs based on this. After completing impact evaluation and deciding the priorities, enterprises can make specific, measurable and time-bound sustainable development goals. These will ensure that the goals of enterprises not only cover their own business, but also create opportunities for the improvement of the whole value chain.
After the overall goals are set, enterprises should make specific key performance indexes and goals targeted for these priorities. To achieve these goals, enterprises should integrate sustainable development into their core so as to ensure that sustainable development is integrated into their strategy, culture and operation and that all departments implement specific tasks. During this process, a cross-department sustainable development council or committee will be a good choice. It's worthwhile to build a sustainable development committee of board-level which focuses on the strategic discussion of sustainable development priorities in the early stage of business integration. Integrating sustainable development is conducive to promote the overall transformation of enterprises' core business, including products, services, client domain, supply chain management, selection and utilization of raw materials, transport and sales network.
Taking SDGs as a framework to seize the new opportunities
Enterprises should strengthen effective communication with stakeholders on SDGs, and compile reports in the framework of SDGs and report according to SDGs.
Firstly, taking the aim as guide to display the operation and practical actions of enterprises and to show how they contribute to the sustainable development of the host country and the globe. The message that enterprises should send to stakeholders is that "We are responsible enterprises and our existence and operation make a contribution to the sustainable development both in the local and in the globe."
Secondly, facing the future. While reporting and summarizing practices having been done, enterprises should explore where to contribute their efforts according to the requirements of SDGs and the future goals they set and look into greater contributions that they can make to the future development of enterprises, to better implement responsibility and to sustainable development based on their actual situations.
Thirdly, highlighting the relevance of practice and sustainable development. Based on the common context and discourse system to report practices and performance of enterprises in the most concerned areas of sustainable development is beneficial to make the more precise and targeted reporting content of enterprises.
Fourthly, meeting the concerned prior areas. SDGs are the prior sustainable development areas decided through long-term fully discussion of many stakeholders. Reports built on the framework of SDGs can highlight remarkable contributions that enterprises' operation and practices make to global sustainable development, and help enterprises know well how to operate is most helpful to global sustainable development.
While contributing to SDGs, enterprises should seize the opportunities provided by SDGs to create economic value and achieve their own development in the process of facing challenges of the society and meeting social demands. The 17 SDGs are the prior areas to achieve sustainable development and areas with the most serious problems. The achievement of SDGs requires the government to make relevant policies, invest much capital in relevant areas and develop new technology and products continuously, which provides enterprises new opportunities for development. Global Opportunity Report 2017 summarizes six golden global goals which are highly potential for enterprises. They include decent work and economic growth, good health and well-being, life on land, affordable and clean energy, quality education, industry, innovation and infrastructure.
As a local network officially authorized by UN Global Compact and built in China, Global Compact Network China devotes to introducing international advanced concepts and tools into China, strengthening communication and cooperation between Chinese enterprises and international societies, driving enterprises to assume social responsibility, and promoting the sustainable development of Chinese enterprises in the background of economic globalization. Since 2013, UN Global Compact has organized Global Compact China Summit annually to assembly domestic and foreign experts and scholars, to study opportunities and challenges facing enterprises while achieving sustainable development, and to seek solutions. In 2016, the first year to implement SDGs, China Summit took achieving SDGs as the theme and chose 16 pioneer enterprises, which improved enterprises' understanding to SDGs. In December 2017, China Summit kicked off in Beijing. The best practices of Chinese enterprises in the field of SDGs in the last two years were summarized. Also, the meeting introduced the great contributions that Chinese enterprises have made to achieve SDGs to domestic and foreign stakeholders.
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