CSR : Sustainable Development Goals Linkage – A MATCH WITH A CAUSE


 Source: sustainabledevelopment.un.org

Sustainable Development Goals - For the People and the Planet

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Endorsed by all 193 United Nations Member States in 2015, the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals focus global efforts and attention on 17 pressing issues.

These 17 Goals build on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals including new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities.

Reaching these goals is essential, and it needs distributed and equitable participation from various stakeholders that have an impact on the world and know the functions, be it from notable industries, non-profit sector, government bodies or mere individuals. However on the other hand for- profit industries, create a significant and much more concrete impact on economy, environment and culture, making them the core participants to perform responsibilities aligned with the SDGs.


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

CSR was introduced in The Companies Act mandating certain class of companies to spend 2% of the profits on defined social sector projects. This was intended to utilize the private sector expertise in designing, managing & measuring impacts which would impact society. The role that was primarily performed by the State & Non Profit sector was sought to be professionalized by the involvement of the corporate sector participation. This has brought into focus Responsible profits, Sustainable business practices and good corporate citizenship. This has also enabled changes in social enterprises, venture philanthropy and the way funding to the Non- profit is being channelized.

Fact: Environment, Sustainability & Governance are currently the buzzwords in Corporate India.

SDGs and the Private Sector

United Nations has been instrumental in delegating the appropriate roles that non-profits, academic institutions and the private sectors need to play in realising the goals of SDG. These three entities were essentially taken in consideration when SDGs were being designed and adopted. The 2030 agenda has given the private sector a significant role to play.

In many countries, the engagement of the private sector in the SDG implementation is part of official policies. Governments and the UN are striving for increased commitment of the private sector to finance the implementation of SDGs. Governments are also influencing corporates to bring about systemic changes in their business strategies to incorporate social and environmental awareness.



Why Linking CSR work to SDGs is essential?

Let’s get to the point. The SDGs are imperative to bringing about substantial changes in our global scenarios, impacting individuals. Organisations, institutions and individuals at different levels are responsible for the contribution they make to meet these goals.

India has been one of the few countries to mandate CSR to select corporates. The threshold limit of Rs. 50 million in profits has ensured that not only the large corporates include responsibility initiatives, but also the growing number of medium & small corporates. An analysis of  the CSR interventions areas reveals close linkages with SDGs. In fact, a single area chosen for CSR program could impact outcomes in multiple SDG goals. Education could impact outcomes in SDGs relating to Education, Gender Equality, Decent Work & Economic Growth, Reduced inequality etc.

A study of 218 companies by IIM Udaipur and Futurescape indicates that the companies are gradually incorporating SDGs into their responsible business actions. Around 35% companies at the aggregate level reported that they have mapped their goals with SDGs but only 30% shared their mapping. Of the 218 companies, 60 companies have mapped their responsible business actions to SDGs. Nine of the top 10 companies mapped their goals with SDGs. The leading sectors are IT, Telecom and Energy where majority companies have mapped.

In order to aggregate the outcomes and the impact it becomes imperative that all stakeholders collate the results and efforts in order to present the consolidated results. The government has a system in place to capture the data. However as SDG’s and CSR are also being impacted by efforts of the private sector, it is necessary to put in a framework which will facilitate credibility in any such linking and reporting.

We at Vardaan Advisors Pvt Ltd ( www.vardaan.co) seek to assist in linking the CSR activities of an organisation to these SDGs which in turn will provide the strategic inputs to plan, map & undertake focused interventions resulting in better impact and  ensure a better social return on investment, at the same time enabling the nation to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.