Engaging with the Sustainable Development Goals: A Business Opportunity

October 2019

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are increasingly at the heart of businesses’ sustainability strategies. Today, businesses cannot focus solely on the bottom line but must create value at all levels, including for wider society, with more companies engaging with the global goals.

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Key Findings

Sustainability can boost reputations

Environmental pressures, such as climate change, pollution and water scarcity, are sparking new levels of global concern, shifting consumers' values, preferences and behaviour. In response, businesses are starting to consider the idea of purpose beyond economic profit. As more companies design products with sustainability in mind, it will become vital to understand where the greatest needs and most significant investment opportunities lie.

Circular economy to fight resource scarcity

“Doing more with less” is the mantra of circular businesses that aim to make the most of the available resources, either extending products’ use or giving them a second life. There is an explosion of new business models based on sharing, reusing, renting and repairing, along with new end of life solutions (ie recycling, composting and repurposing).

Climate positive to turn the tide on climate change

Climate change is back in the spotlight, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report calling for “urgent and unprecedented changes” to avoid catastrophic consequences. Businesses are joining global climate strikes for the first time, and investing in innovative climate positive products and technologies that help fight global warming.

Waterless products to navigate the water crisis

Most products require water to be produced and/or used. As water becomes increasingly scarce in some parts of the world, consumers and businesses are facing the consequences of water shortages. Companies are launching products that make more efficient use of this resource, from waterless formulations to products that require less water to be rinsed off.

Products to clean the air

With air quality deteriorating in urban areas, companies are developing new products that either help consumers to improve indoor air quality or protect them from pollution.

Introduction

Scope
Key findings

The Business Case for Sustainability

What is sustainability?
Sustainability makes business sense
Brand reputation is driving sustainability
Global companies lead in SDG engagement
Businesses stepping up to fight climate change
CEOs becoming activists in sustainability

Sustainable Development

What are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?
Connecting the dots: SDGs and global challenges

Environmental Risks and Opportunities

Turning environmental risks into opportunities through the SDGs
Four environmental risks identified by the SDGs
SDGs opportunities behind environmental risks

Case Studies

Anti-pollution: cleaning up the air
New textile technology to fight indoor pollution
The US, China and Germany key markets for IKEA’s anti-pollution curtains
Waterless: navigating the global water crisis Navigating the global water crisis
A waterless bath premium solution to water scarcity
The Middle East and Africa, an oasis of opportunity for waterless bathing
Climate positive: turning the tide on climate change
Ice creams grown in the lab to fight climate change
Lab grown ice creams a booming market in light of climate change
Circular economy: winning the fight for scarce resources
“Too good to waste” washing up liquid made from beer waste
Washing dishes with waste

Takeaways

Sustainability goes beyond brand reputation
The way forward
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