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The role of business will be to lead innovation in reducing environmental impacts and improving the quality of life of all actors in their supply chain. There will undoubtedly be commercial advantage for businesses developing solutions to the SDGs including low carbon, resource efficient technologies and products that improve health. The commitment of governments around the world to the SDGs can be expected to provide funding and tax relief to businesses contributing to their delivery. If the business sector does not support their delivery on a voluntary basis, then it is likely to face additional legislative burden.
Companies should develop their sustainability strategies with reference to the SDGs and will need systems in place to monitor and report on their delivery. Many organisations are currently reporting on corporate social responsibility through voluntary standards including the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). From 2017, certain large companies across the EU will be required to report on environmental impacts, human rights and corruption under Directive 2014/95/EU. Guidance, expected to be issued in 2016, is likely to include reference to the SDGs.
The delivery of the SDGs is also an opportunity for further collaboration with NGOs and other stakeholders as partnership working for sustainable development is in itself a SDG. The SDGs are therefore likely to impact not only a business’ operations, but also its understanding of itself as global citizen with a shared responsibility for improving the health and wellbeing of people and the environment.