Published 2017
Business and the Sustainable Development Goals: Why it matters
By Sahba Sobhani and Robert de Jongh

Sahba Sobhani is a Private Sector Programme Advisor at UN Development Programme, Istanbul. In this capacity, he provides programme support and policy advice on private sector development issues and technical oversight for UNDP’s multi-stakeholder initiatives.

Robert de Jongh is a Specialist Leader of Social Finance at Deloitte Consulting. In this role he supports clients from the public and private sectors leverage and deploy capital for social impact alongside commercial returns.

This article has been adapted from ‘Uncharted Waters: Blending Value and Values for Social Impact through the SDGs’—a joint collaboration between UNDP, the Istanbul International Center for Private Sector in Development, Business Call to Action, and Deloitte US, 2017.

In an increasingly interconnected, complex and turbulent world, business is navigating uncharted waters. Amidst this uncertainty, the global community came together in a global call to action to guide all stakeholders– including business– in building a more sustainable, equitable and inclusive society. While the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were designed for and approved by governments, they also constitute a global framework for measuring business contributions to society – how companies can ‘win with purpose’. According to a recent survey, more than two thirds of participating companies said they were already planning to engage with the SDGs, but less than half plan to embed them into their business strategy in the next five years.1 As the United Nations Global Compact 2016 CEO Survey notes, only 59% of companies report that their company is able to accurately quantify the business value of their sustainability initiatives.² Therefore, the central question is: Should the SDGs really matter to business?