LEAD Action on the SDGs

Since the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012, companies in the UN Global Compact’s LEAD initiative have been deeply committed to the process that led to the launch of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Global Compact LEAD – a group of companies from across all regions and sectors working to advance corporate sustainability within their organizations and inspire others to do the same – has been spearheading sustainability strategies ranging from board engagement and oversight of sustainability to full integration across business functions.

Most recently, LEAD companies were among the first to start aligning their strategies and activities with the SDGs and contributed their knowledge and experience to the development of resources and tools intended to guide the implementation of SDGs by business, including the SDG Compass and the SDG Industry Matrix.

The examples below highlight some of ways that LEAD companies are helping to advance the SDGs through their core business activities and partnerships. Be sure to check back as examples will be added on an ongoing basis.

No Poverty

AVIVA plc is one of the largest micro-life insurers on the Indian sub-continent working with several microfinance companies and a host of co-operative banks. Due to its vast network of branches, Aviva is able to serve financially-excluded and rural customers quickly and at low cost. In one year alone, Aviva covered over 630,000 people through its microinsurance products and close to 500,000 policies were sold in rural India.

Zero Hunger

Yara International ASA is participating in the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania, a public-private partnership that aims to transform subsistence smallholder agriculture into a sustainable commercial farming sector, serving local, regional and international markets. Beyond increasing the demand for Yara’s agricultural products, the partnership’s ambition is to create at least 420,000 new employment opportunities within the agricultural value chain – and secure annual farming revenues for Tanzania estimated at USD 1.2 billion.

Good Health and Well-being

Sumitomo Chemical Company, Limited is expanding its investment in R&D to develop a full range of innovative vector control tools and technologies to limit the spread of malaria and other vector-transmitted diseases. The research seeks to achieve a world that is free or substantially reduced of vector borne disease and illness, improving the health and livelihoods of millions.

Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited launched a two year programme to support global health and empower working women. The company has partnered with BSR’s HERhealth programme and local NGOs to provide health education to 54,000 mostly female factory and farm workers across China, Ethiopia, India and Kenya. In addition to improving employee retention and productivity, the programme is expected to increase workers’ awareness of their general and reproductive health and rights, improve health behaviors and increase access to healthcare services.

Quality Education

Example in process, be sure to check back.

Gender Equality

Enel partners with Barefoot College through its Enel Green Power programme to empower women from electricity-deprived villages to install and maintain small photovoltaic systems. While growing new markets for solar products, the partnership develops the capacities of women entrepreneurs by providing them with technical training and bringing sustainable energy sources to their communities. The programme was expanded in 2015 to Kenya and Tanzania where it has helped to electrify more than 750 households in two years.

Clean Water and Sanitation

Netafim is introducing its efficient drip irrigation systems to commodity crops in California such as alfalfa, corn and rice, helping farmers become more resilient to drought. Drip irrigation is not yet a common practice for commodity crops, which are the largest consumers of water, but the market potential is very large. In a case where a dairy farmer used effluent wastewater to irrigate his corn, impacts included water savings, reduced GHG emissions and improved yields.

Affordable and Clean Energy

Iberdrola S.A. launched the Electricity for All initiative to provide affordable access to electricity to 4 million people in developing countries by 2020. In addition to helping Iberdrola enter large new markets, the initiative has brought electricity to over 1.4 million people since 2014, including communities in some of the most disadvantaged areas of Brazil. The company recognizes electricity access as a key driver for human development, leading to increased productivity, employment opportunities and overall improvements to the quality of life in communities.

Decent Work and Economic Growth

Nestlé S.A. developed an Action Plan on Women in the Cocoa Supply Chain in Cote d’Ivoire which creates equal opportunities, gives women a voice and increases women’s income. The Plan promotes local women’s associations linked to the company’s supply chain, and delivers high-yielding, disease-tolerant cocoa seedlings and technical assistance to increase productivity and income. These efforts have helped demonstrate how inclusive cocoa farming leads to positive impacts on families, communities and the country as a whole, while contributing to a more sustainable supply of cocoa.

Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

Deutsche Telekom AG sees its innovative telecommunications solutions as enablers for social and environmental impact across many sectors. For example, in Macedonia the company is supporting the development of an agricultural monitoring system called SmartWine, which provides grape producers with round-the-clock information about vineyard conditions. Smart agriculture applications like SmartWine can help farmers to increase their savings and improve crop yield through reducing their energy, water and chemical usage.

SK Telecom is providing energy efficiency enhancement solutions, such as Cloud Building Management Systems (BEMS), for buildings to reduce GHG emissions for its customers. BEMS involves cloud-based management and analysis of data on customer energy consumption collected in real time in order to identify areas for improvement in facility operation and optimization. In 2015, SK Telecom applied ICT-based BEMS and FEMS solutions to 17 business sites, including buildings and factories, to help customers achieve an average of 10% energy savings.

Reduced Inequalities

LafargeHolcim launched the Shelter-for-Livelihood (S4L) project, leveraging the company’s core business to provide sustainable housing to low-income communities and reduce the housing deficit in Argentina. On a commercial basis, S4L equips families with skills to design, construct and maintain homes which are environmentally friendly, financially accessible, culturally acceptable and can contribute to creating self-sustaining businesses. S4L has reached 750 people and established four microenterprises, two production sites and seven marketing channels for products developed from the project.

Sustainable Cities and Communities

Novo Nordisk AS is a founding partner of the Cities Changing Diabetes initiative, a partnership platform for cross-disciplinary, cross-sector collaboration to respond to the dramatic rise in urban diabetes across the world. A joint effort among UCL, Steno Diabetes Center and C40, the partnership leverages Novo Nordisk’s expertise in treating diabetes to map and analyze root causes of urban diabetes – a symptom of unsustainable development – and will identify and scale up solutions to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing in cities.

Responsible Consumption and Production

Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd. operates a “closed loop” integrated recycling system for its products, in which products released to the market are collected back after use, and the parts are either reused or recycled, thus reducing waste sent to landfill. The company has introduced recycling systems and take-back programmes across Japan, Thailand, China, Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Since 2010, the company has maintained a recycling rate of at least 99.5% across its operations, which contributes to its goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 30% in 2020 compared to 2005.

Novozymes was inspired by the SDGs when developing its new company purpose and strategy, which emphasizes collaboration and core business contributions to advance the SDGs. The SDGs are used as a lens when evaluating and prioritizing innovations for future business growth. To drive progress Novozymes has set ambitious long-term goals for financial and sustainability performance: to have their biological solutions reach 6 billion people by 2020; to educate 1 million people about the potential of biology; to partner with key public and private organizations to catalyze five global partnerships for change; and to deliver 10 transformative innovations that change the lives of people and save 100 million tons of CO2 through customer use of their products by 2020.

Unilever's Sustainable Living Plan sets out ambitious goals. By 2020 it will help more than 1 billion people take action to improve their health and well-being and enhance the livelihoods of millions of people, and by 2030 it aims to halve the environmental footprint of the making and use of its products as it grows its business. In 2015, Unilever’s Sustainable Living brands grew even faster than they did in 2014. They also delivered nearly half of the company’s growth and grew significantly faster — in fact 30% faster — than the rest of the business. The Plan has enabled to company to make more than €200m of savings in one year alone through manufacturing, logistics, material efficiencies and research and development.

Climate Action

BASF SE has teamed up with other chemical companies in a Low Carbon Technology Partnership initiative to jointly analyze the potential of various game-changing innovations for carbon emissions reductions in chemical production. Also, recognizing that technological improvements have physical limits BASF looks for disruptive innovations for its production processes – with cross-sector cooperation playing an important role. For example, together with ThyssenKrupp and Linde, BASF is working on a new process for the production of hydrogen that is much more carbon efficient than the conventional process and at the same time delivers metallurgical carbon for use in the steel industry.

UPM-Kymmene Corporation has innovated and developed a production process to transform crude tall oil, a wood-based residue of UPM’s own pulp production, into a unique advanced biofuel called UPM BioVerno. It can be used in any diesel engine – car, bus or truck. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 80% compared to fossil diesel, and does not compete with food production. Based on results from the pilot production and testing, UPM Biofuels began commercial production of the renewable diesel in 2015.

Life Below Water

A.P. Moller - Maersk is dedicated to responsibly recycling all of its ships. More than 70% of all ships are recycled on beaches in a way that leads to negative environmental and community impacts, providing companies like Maersk with limited options for responsible recycling. In 2016, Maersk launched a project to engage with shipyards in Alang, India to make more responsible and cost-efficient ship recycling facilities available to the shipping industry, and to engage more ship owners on this issue.

Life on Land

Pirelli & C. S.p.A. partners with a supplier in Indonesia to improve the production of natural rubber, a key input in Pirelli’s tires. The programme trains rubber farmers – the majority of which are small-holders – on improved methods of rubber extraction, aiming to maximize productivity, enhance rubber quality and extend the life of the rubber trees. In addition to providing Pirelli with a more reliable supply of higher quality rubber, the initiative is expected to improve the livelihoods of farmers and reduce deforestation. In two years the programme has reached 6,000 farmers.

Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

Example in process, be sure to check back.

Partnerships for the Goals

ARM Holdings plc uses its network and expertise to convene the technology sector and develop innovative partnerships for development. For example, in 2015 ARM partnered with UNICEF to launch the Wearables for Good challenge to develop innovative, affordable solutions to make wearables and sensor technology that benefit women and children across the world. ARM will be partnering with the WHO, UNICEF, ITU and the FAO to deploy technology in an effort to support the SDGs, which has the potential to lead to impact across several goals, while generating new revenue streams for ARM Holdings.

Braskem S.A. has created the Fewer Losses, More Water Movement, a partnership which aims to reduce water losses in distribution systems by 2030. Water scarcity is a major issue in Brazil, and distribution losses account for up to 40% of all treated water amounting to approximately 6.5 billion m3 of water each year. With the support of the Global Compact Network Brazil, the project already has 50 participants, including private and public companies, local government authorities, NGOs and educational entities.