Yesterday more than three hundred representatives from business, government, and non-governmental organisations gathered in Brussels at the European Business Summit to discuss the Sustainable Development Goals and their value for Europe. CSR Europe’s conference at EBS focussed on the role that businesses can play in bringing about positive societal impact while at the same time generating shared value. At the conference, new research was presented, along with a call for greater collaboration inside companies, between companies and at a multi-stakeholder level, based on the finding that business-as-usual cannot continue if the UN 2030 Agenda is to be met.
The study by Frost & Sullivan and GlobeScan on behalf of CSR Europe demonstrates that while the SDGs have already been embraced by many business leaders, middle-management remains disconnected from their narrative. The study warns that while progress has been made, collaborative efforts must be reinforced in order to meet the UN 2030 Agenda. The Sustainable Development Goals not only provide a common language for the private and public sector to communicate, they also offer Europe a critical opportunity to foster sustainable and inclusive growth and secure trust in Europe.
“CSR Europe will further develop its work to help companies transform their business. This research is a wake-up call to the importance of working together” said Stefan Crets, CSR Europe Executive Director. “Collaboration is fundamental to bring about the change that is needed and while it is the easiest thing to say, it is at the same time the hardest to do. This is why CSR Europe recently launched the Sustainable Business Exchange, with the aim to empower companies to take action and co-create sustainable growth models”.
Francesco Starace, Enel CEO and General Manager commented: “Implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals means supporting the prosperity of society, as well as ensuring the long-term viability of business. Those companies incorporating the SDGs into their business strategies give themselves the advantage of a clear roadmap to inform decision-making that will drive value for shareholders and for all stakeholders. It is for this reason that we have integrated the SDGs as a key driver of Enel’s industrial strategy.”
While the common denominator amongst the SDGs lies in the mandate for change, the opportunity to unlock benefits from the SDGs rests with businesses and with their ability to go beyond business-as-usual and establish concrete multi-stakeholder partnerships to realise the goals effectively.
In order to meet this mandate, CSR Europe will work through its network of more than 10,000 companies across Europe to promote business transformation through its Sustainable Business Exchange campaign.
Companies can get involved in the Sustainable Business Exchange in two ways:
- A learning network will help them embrace the circular economy, rethink the value chain, foster innovative partnerships and business models, as well as sustainable consumption and production.
- An SDG Incubator will facilitate pilot projects between companies, civil society and governments, to drive business contribution to the SDGs and tackle common challenges.
CSR Europe calls on all stakeholders, including the European Commission, to embrace the UN Sustainable Development Goals with practical action and opportunities for multi-stakeholder collaboration which is needed to spark Europe’s potential.
The conference also marked the signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Global Compact on the Sustainable Development Goals.