Date of the event: 29 June 2017

Location: University of Sussex

Event description:

The proceedings began with a presentation of several short films produced by Project Everyone to help raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals. The films can be found here.

Making Global Goals Local Business – Brighton was formally opened by Andrew Stirling, Professor of Science & Technology at the University of Sussex’s Policy Research Unit. Professor Stirling welcomed attendees and gave a brief description of the University’s wide-ranging interest in sustainability. He was followed by Kate Thorpe, Business Liaison Manager (Business, Management & Economics School) who also welcomed attendees and gave a very brief preview of the agenda. The welcome session was concluded by Steve Kenzie, Executive Director, UN Global Compact Network UK who presented some information about the SDGs Roadshow and why it had been undertaken, including a Eurobarometer survey that looked at awareness of the SDGs across Europe and found it was lowest in the UK. He also introduced attendees to the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative.

After the welcome session, Steve Kenzie began the main event with a presentation on What are the SDGs? He gave a brief account of how the Goals came into being and an overview of the Goals. He then did a deep dive into Goal 2 to demonstrate the importance of looking at the targets that underpin the Goals to understand their scope and richness. Steve Kenzie’s slides are included in the main deck available below.

Steve’s presentation was followed by Emily Lydgate, Academic Fellow, Environmental Law who talked about The Global Goals in a period of uncertainty in the UK. Emily spoke about the extraordinary complexity of the Brexit negotiations and how they might affect action on the SDGs in the UK.

The next speaker was Shelaine Siepel, Sustainable Business Partnership CIC. She presented three impressive examples of businesses that have improved their sustainability. For all these initiatives, she noted the main motivating factors which included personal commitment of staff and leadership, cost savings and competitive advantage. Shelaine’s slides are available in the main deck at the end of this report.

Mark Fisher, Senior Teaching Fellow at the University of Sussex talked about Business as Social Enterprise (rather than charities). He made a very strong case that the social enterprise approach might be more sustainable for many organisations seeking to make a positive impact in the world. Mark spoke without slides.

Andrea Smith. BMEc (SPRU) Ph.D. Student gave a brief presentation about her research into business responses to climate change. She spoke about how corporations are significantly reducing their carbon footprints by utilising energy attribute certificates for renewable energy. Andrea’s slides are available in the main deck at the end of this report.

Steve Kenzie closed the first part of the event by explaining, “Why should business be engaged?” His main point was that the SDGs are a business-friendly agenda because peace, stability, and a healthy, educated workforce are all good for business. Furthermore, he described how the transformation the Global Goals will bring about means opportunities for business. He referred to a report, Better Business Better World, and he provided some specific examples.

Attendees were next invited to take part in a ‘Dot Voting’ exercise on the SDGs. They were asked to place black and white “dot” stickers on posters of the SDGs to indicate which of the Goals represented business opportunities for their city today and which would be opportunities in five years. The results of the exercise are shown in the right-side chart (click image to view full size).

SDGs Dot Voting – Brighton

After the break, Steve introduced the second part of the event, “How can business get involved? He presented three useful tools – SDG Compass, Global Opportunity Explorer and the SDG Industry Matrix – to help companies finding opportunities to achieve the Global Goals.

Three business case examples were then presented to further explore the role of business in achieving the Global Goals:

  • INTCAS: Incorporating Global Goals in BusinessZakaria S. Mahmood. Managing Director. INTCAS. INTCAS is a global technology platform where students from across the world can work collaboratively with the global education industry to build their careers. Zakaria focused in particular on the role of the platform to promote basic human rights. More information on INTCAS are available here.
  • Ethical Fashion Group – Alex Wyatt. The initiative, funded together by graduates of the University of Sussex, aims to raise awareness about the damages caused by the fashion, beauty and lifestyle industries to the planet and promote ethical and sustainable fashion. To learn more click here.
  • Bioregional: Incorporating Global Goals in Business Anthony Probert, Bioregional. Bioregional participated in the negotiations that led to the SDGs to make sure that SDG 12 was properly recognized. By working with partners, Bioregional promotes sustainable living using ecological and carbon footprinting as indicators. Anthony Probert’s slides are available in the main deck at the end of this report. For more information on Bioregional, please click here.

The programme resumed with a panel discussion with all the speakers on How can business get involved? facilitated by Kate Thorpe. The lively discussion that ensued covered a wide range of issues:

  • Are companies expected to address all of the goals? Only if they’re have material impacts across all of the Goals and/or they see business opportunities in all of the Goals.
  • Is it okay for companies to use their engagement around the Goals in their marketing? Could they be using their positive actions in one area to distract from deficiencies elsewhere? Yes and yes. It is inevitable that CSR/Sustainability related activities may be linked into marketing. In fact, this is often an integral part of the business case for these activities.

Steve Kenzie brought the event to a close thanking the speakers and attendees for their support.

Further resources:

  • Download the event slides here.
  • Download a .pdf 2-pager listing all the SDG targets here.
  • More details on the Global Goals can be found here.

For further information please contact the UK Network Secretariat:

This SDG Roadshow event was supported by: