How your banana peel can help us reach the Global Goals

E_2016_SDG_Poster_all_sizes_without_UN_emblem_Letter.pngIt’s coming up to the second anniversary of the SDGs and it seems like every other business is doing something to show how they are working towards the goals of the biggest global movement for sustainable development.

Yes, we are joining this bandwagon.

(Skip straight to our report on how Do Nation connects to the SDGs).

Ever since the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs or Global Goals) were agreed in September 2015, we’ve been keen to use Do Nation to raise awareness and increase action towards them. Given that each of our 56 Do Actions supports at least one of the Global Goals, it seems a bit remiss not to have publicised this already. We’ve already helped over 10,000 people to take over 26,000 actions towards the SDGs. It’s time to start shouting about that.

But first, why should we bother? What role can individual’s actions play in achieving the huge global ambition of the SDGs? When the bar is set at the likes of “ending poverty in all its forms everywhere” and “combatting climate change and its impacts”, how much impact can I have by putting my banana skins in the compost bin?

It’s the action of governments, NGOs and businesses that are most critical in achieving the goals – that much is widely accepted. And thankfully many businesses are already stepping up and taking action, aligning their strategies and practices to the Global Goals. They’re using them as a framework through which to plan, measure and report on impact at a corporate level.

This is fantastic. However, businesses and governments are all made up of people. And at Do Nation we experience daily what can happen when employees and customers are also engaged in taking action on a personal level. As a result, we passionately believe that we must all personally support this positive impact, and that action can’t be left to policy makers, sustainability departments and business leaders alone..  

Why not?

Firstly, if your people aren’t personally bought in to your plans and policies, you’ll be limited to how much you can achieve. It’s rather like an army going to war (although only in the metaphorical sense, of course – if SDG 16 goes to plan there will be no more wars to fight!). In the battle for sustainable development, we don’t just need powerful and well informed leaders – we also need an empowered and passionate army to fight for this positive change.

In order to have vigour and resilience to keep going when the going gets tough (because this isn’t going to be an easy ride), our soldiers need to believe in the reason for this battle and have faith that we can win. There’s no better way to achieve that than through direct personal experience – the small wins that we can achieve in our lives give us faith and hope that we can change the status quo, that progress can be made.

And no matter how well you plan your strategy, you never know where opportunities to advance will arise until the battle has commenced. If your soldiers understand and support the battle plan, when out in the field they’ll be able to help spot opportunities that may never be visible from back in camp, enabling a far swifter and safer advance.

So to put it bluntly – if the people that make up your organisation don’t support your mission for tackling the SDGs, you’re fighting a losing battle.

Informa quote proud.pngSecondly, if you are doing good work on the SDGs but not regularly making your colleagues aware of it, you’re missing a big trick. Even if they can’t play an active role in every project, by simply making your people aware of what action your business is taking towards the SDGs you will also help to build pride amongst your workforce. They are likely to become more loyal employees and better advocates for your company.

This in turn will get the marketing and HR teams behind you, helping to strengthen the business case for action and ensuring its own sustainability.

There are many ways to raise awareness of initiatives, but in my experience few methods beat peer-to-peer communications. People love to talk about personal achievements, so give them a way to act on the SDGs and they’re far more likely to talk about them – and by extension, the work you’re doing around them.

On average, we see that people talk to over 6 others about their pledge on Do Nation and sustainability (and interestingly, this is higher amongst men!). I’d love to see those conversations develop into discussions around the SDGs and what can be done to further them, both within their lives and the business as a whole.

Finally, actions are worth 1,000 surveys. If you really want to know which SDGs your staff are interested in – take a look at which ones they act on.

So if you’re interested in hearing how you can use Do Nation to encourage your people to take action on the SDGs, download our overview of Do Nation and the Sustainable Development Goals, then drop me a line.

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