The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out the UN agenda for people, planet and prosperity by year 2030.
The 17 goals and 169 targets adopted in September 2015 aim to stimulate action in areas of critical importance to humanity and the environment.
Businesses can also use the SDGs to arrive at sustainability, which is the aspiration of many companies by balancing profitability with social and environmental impacts.
SDGs also provide a framework for increased investment in new markets, using them as the ‘common language’ for the progressive enterprise, and an opportunity for long-term partnerships with the government and others.
This chain secures the future of the planet and generations.
Tying SDGs to business strategy affords the establishment an opportunity to meet societal needs and social development while minimising environmental impact.
The goals will enable the companies to align to important external standards, such as those of the International Labour Organisation.
Companies must realise the market landscape is constantly changing, partly with the dwindling natural resources, climate change, unsustainable supply chains, and poor waste management that require continuous innovation.
A continuous assessment of the value chains to identify gaps will help companies to thrive and deliver value not only for shareholders and customers but also the rest.
Business needs the SDGs for they present a compelling growth strategy for enterprise in general and the world economy.
There are opportunities when companies invest in delivering innovative solutions and transformative change.
If the SDGs are achieved, 380 million job opportunities will be created as well as unlocking at least $12 trillion in opportunities for businesses by 2030.
These opportunities favour businesses that are taking action instead of those that take a back seat on integrating the SDGs in their strategies.
Consumer demands are changing as a result of demographic alterations and consumers are becoming more responsible in terms of production and consumption.
For instance, 74 percent of Kenyans believe that business has a key role to play in achieving these UN targets.
Business must, therefore, demonstrate a clear and credible commitment to sustainability to maintain the loyalty of Kenyans as customers and employees.
For any business manager, risk management is a key component for no enterprise can succeed if the various risks facing it are not managed.
Over and above the risks domiciled within the company, external risks, especially issues such as climate change, poverty, gender equality in a society need to be managed and addressing these UN goals will help in tackling such critical issues and secure resilient supply chains and stable markets.
The SDGs are also tied to cost reduction through a more efficient use of resources within companies.
It is expected, for example, that by year 2030, renewable sources of energy will replace fossil fuels.
The renewables such wind and solar are becoming cheaper than coal or gas in countries like India, the UK, Denmark and will soon be the case for more countries, including Kenya.
With the inevitable transition from fossil fuels, it makes long-term economic sense for companies to begin the movement now, hence the recent announcement by many car manufacturers around the world that they are phasing out petrol and diesel-fuelled cars.
Leading companies like IKEA, H&M, and Google have committed to using 100 percent renewably-sourced electricity within the next 10 years.
Investing in renewable energy helps companies to manage costs against fluctuating fossil fuel prices, ensures a stable supply of energy as well as building on the corporate reputation.
Companies are also investing in more efficient water management as well as innovating around circular economies which can reduce waste.
The bigger question remains, though.
Is your business strategy linked to the SDGs? And, what are you doing to ensure that the integration is beneficial to both the company, the society and future generations?
All businesses should strive to ensure that they are engaging with the SDGs as a win-win strategy.
The writer is CEO, Kenya Climate Innovation Centre.