Supporting Sustainable Development Goals Is Easier Than You Might Think

Companies and investors are being asked to support the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 — what some have described as “the closest thing the Earth has to a strategy”— since the public sector alone does not have the resources to do so. At the same time, companies must create value for their shareholders to create the returns they need for their ultimate beneficiaries. In essence, both are being asked to do good and do well at the same time. This raises a number of obvious challenges:

  1. Unlike with financial performance, there are no universal standards for how to measure a company’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance.
  2. As a result, there is a large ecosystem of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and data vendors attempting to solve this problem—so many that both companies and investors struggle with which ones to use.
  3. Companies remain skeptical about whether their shareholders will reward them for ESG performance over the long term.
  4. The 17 SDGs, which have 169 “business indicators,” are about improving the planet, whereas ESG metrics are about a company’s performance. What is missing is a way to show how these are related to each other.
  5. Investors remain frustrated with companies that do a poor job of explaining how their ESG performance contributes to financial performance.
  6. Without strong support from the investment community, the corporate community cannot make the contributions necessary to achieve the 2030 goals.

These challenges are surprisingly manageable. The key lies in leveraging the work of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) in the context of the SDGs.

Materiality

The concept of “materiality” is central to linking ESG outcomes to their impact on SDGs. In financial reporting, material issues are those that are important to investors. Increasingly, these material issues include ESG issues. SASB has identified the material ESG issues in 10 sectors (subdivided into 79 industries) and, through its “Provisional Standards,” has recommended key performance indicators (KPIs) for reporting on them.

While SASB’s industry-level KPIs represent a company’s ESG outcomes, these outcomes also have an impact on organizations and people outside the company, which to varying extents contribute to SDGs. Thus, a relationship between ESG outcomes and SDG impacts exists via the concept of materiality.

The central idea is that we can advance the achievement of SDGs by improving ESG outcomes through this three-step process:

  1. Understand which ESG outcomes are material for a company.
  2. Determine how performance on these outcomes contributes to one or more SDGs.
  3. Track improvements in performance on these ESG outcomes that impact the SDGs.

For example, job creation by a company is an ESG outcome, and the SDG impact would include greater literacy (SDG No. 4 on quality education), since more children can finish school instead of working to support their families. A company’s carbon emissions are relevant to SDG No. 13 on climate action. In what follows, we analyze the relationship between material ESG issues and the SDGs, but we first examine the relationship between all ESG issues and the SDGs.

Material ESG Issues and the SDGs

In order to understand the relationship between ESG outcomes and SDG impacts, we first did a high-level mapping of SASB’s 30 generic ESG issues to the SDGs using a model developed by Himani Phadke and Lauren DeMates of TruValue Labs. We then mapped the material issues identified for each of the 79 industries to each of the 16 SDGs (excluding SDG No. 17). This is the specific guidance corporate leaders will need to understand how they can create value for shareholders and contribute to the SDGs. We computed an Industry SDG Impact Index (ISII) using the ratio between the number of industry-specific material ESG issues relevant to that SDG and the number of all material issues relevant for that SDG times 100. We then calculated a Sector SDG Impact Score (SSII) by averaging all of the industries in that sector. We also calculated this index for all 16 SDGs as the average for each of them (ASSII). In essence, the SSII measures the extent to which a company doing well on the material issues for its sector is doing good by contributing to each SDG.

These calculations showed that for each sector, there are particular SDGs where it has high impact; for each SDG, there are particular sectors that have a high impact on it; and some sectors are more important to the SDGs in aggregate than others. As an example for the first point, the Consumption sector has a particularly large impact on SDG No. 2 (end hunger), No. 4 (inclusive and equitable quality education), No. 13 (combat climate change), and No. 15 (sustainable ecosystems). “The Three Most Important SDGs for Each Sector” shows for this sector the top three SDGs for which it will have the most impact. For point 2, Consumption and Resource Transformation are particularly important to SDG 13. “The Three Most Important Sectors for Each SDG” shows which sector has the most impact on each SDG.

None of these findings is surprising, since it would be expected that some sectors would be more relevant to some SDGs than others and, following from this, some sectors are more relevant to a particular SDG than others. What is more surprising is that a few sectors really stand out in terms of their impact on the SDGs and that some ESG KPIs have a larger impact on certain SDGs than others. The former means that the success of a few sectors will largely determine whether the SDG goals are met. The latter means that while some SDGs will substantially benefit from the private sector “doing well,” others will benefit to a lesser extent.

As shown in “Top-Ranking Sectors for SDGs,” the sectors that are particularly important to the SDGs are health care and consumption, followed by resource transformation and nonrenewable resources. Transportation, services, and financials are less important, although in the case of the latter, our methodology does not capture their role in financing companies and projects that support the SDGs.

We hope this analysis is helpful for two broad audiences. The first is the corporate community, which can use SASB ESG key performance indicators to determine how to do well and good at the same time. The second is investors and NGOs, those focused on a particular SDG or group of SDGs. This analysis will enable both audiences to identify which sectors are most important for investment and collaboration through Public-Private Partnerships, the focus of SDG No. 17.


MIT Sloan Management Review

Building a Sustainable Community Network in Sarantaporo Greece

For over a year now we in the Sarantaporo.gr Non Profit Organization have been in contact with Internet Society in meetings, over online interactions, and through in-person collaboration with people of the organization who visited our village last summer. From the beginning we saw that Internet Society is an organization which we share a lot of common elements with in terms of vision, and that its network is a natural space for our Community Network to be a part of.

In September 2017 we applied for the Internet Society Beyond the Net Funding Programme to approach the organization more closely and pursue funding to finance our Community Network. We are very happy to announce that our proposal was successful and will be funded with $ 30,000 USD through 2018 and 2019. This grant arrives very timely, in a period of transformation for our Community Network.

Continuously growing since 2010 to expand from Sarantaporo to even more villages in the region, today Sarantaporo.gr Community Network has reached a point where it is no longer possible to keep growing under the previous model, which was heavily dependent on the volunteering work of the nonprofit’s core team. Local inhabitants need to step in and take responsibility of their villages’ local community network. Towards this direction we have been working very hard for the past few months to plan and start implementing a new sustainability model which will guarantee the Community Network’s quality, longevity, inclusivity, and open access for all.

The Internet Society support will help us address three main challenges, which are an integral part of our sustainability model:

  • The technical challenge. Replacing aging legacy equipment with equipment that is modern, much more effective and robust, will enable us to provide higher quality service of improved bandwidth and stability and much better experience for the end users. We have already witnessed that this results in increased interest from locals not only to use Community Network, but also to actively take part in running it.
  • The training challenge. While infrastructure and access are the basic prerequisites, training is the second pillar towards bridging the digital divide. Training extends from basic computer usage for the local inhabitants of the region to advanced networking issues for members of the Sarantaporo.gr. A number of training workshops have been planned and will be delivered in the coming period. At least 80 people from the region will be trained. Of great importance to us is the sustainability aspect: training people who will be able to train others in their village or neighbouring villages.
  • The community building challenge. Our intervention in the region has provided local communities with a modern communication infrastructure as a commons, which strengthens the community bonds with remote relatives and friends. At the same time the Community Network is a Community per se, which needs to be nurtured to sustainability. Building together our Community Network, sharing knowledge, and planning in a participative manner are the building blocks of our approach to achieve this.

A significant added value in working with Internet Society is that we are joining a global network of Community Networks. In our recent trip to Geneva to participate in the 12th Internet Global Forum 2017, we worked with Community Networks from all over the world to found the global CN Special Interest Group, which serves as a vehicle to develop, strengthen, and promote the Community Network model, draft common strategies, share experiences and expertise, and debate policy and regulatory issues.

Since the beginning of the new year 2018 we have already started our first steps in our roadmap by acquiring and deploying the first two batches of new devices. The results are promising already: more people are joining our local teams, quality of service is improving, and it seems that a significant dynamic is being built up that facilitates our next steps. In February we will visit the villages for the New Year’s “Vasilopita”, in beginning or mid March we will organize our first workshop along with other events and in April we are planning our first “guerrilla” network node deployment in the village of Tzoumerka, where we will deploy the community Internet and share our knowledge with a group of locals. We are confident this will be an exciting journey for our community!

 

Do you have a great idea? We are interested in your project! We’re looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make their community better using the Internet. Internet Society Beyond the Net Funding Programme funds projects up to $ 30,000 USD.

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Internet Society

Connecting Nepal’s Earthquake Affected Communities with a Sustainable Model

Beyond the Net Journal

Nepal’s rural population remains largely disconnected from the Internet. The problem is further aggravated by the devastating 7.8 Richter scale earthquake and the subsequent aftershocks that have been shaking Nepal since April 2015 and that left nearly 9,000 people dead.

The Internet Society Nepal Chapter, in partnership with the NPO “Forum for Digital Equality“, led a successful project to reduce the digital divide by facilitating the establishment of three Community Learning Hubs. The project, supported by The Internet Society Beyond the Net Funding Programme, set up the centers in three Nepali districts that were badly affected by the earthquake: Dhading, Sindhupalchowk and Dolakha.

Each Hub is being visited 100/day by community members. More than 1500 more people are now accessing the Internet for free. To ensure a sustainable model for the project, services like printing and scanning are charged. The raised revenue is used to pay for operator salaries, repair and maintenance services.

Goma Shrestha, community ITC operator, proudly explains, “We started “eSewa”, an online payment gateway. Villagers used to go to the market to recharge their mobile and cable service, but now we have facilities in our own community”.

The digital divide between Nepali rural and urban areas has negative consequences when it comes to education. For children in low-income school districts, inadequate access to technology can hinder them from learning the skills that are crucial for their future. In collaboration with government institutions, the Nepal Chapter installed free and open content in the computer laptops provided to the learning hub. The project trained 6 ICT operators to help local students learning new skills.

“I come here to learn computer,” a 15 year old boy, Pradip Waiba, says with enthusiasm. “I have learnt how to type and use programs like Powerpoint, Excel and I talk online with my dad and uncle that are abroad.”

The Chapter has started a discussion with the Department of Information Technology of the Nepal government and with some organizations that are developing online courses for the school and digitizing hundreds of Nepali books. The educational content will not only be useful for students but also for the community members to expand the horizon of their knowledge.

“The project model could be transferred to others districts. Different rural communities are interested to collaborate with us.” says Suraj Adhikari, treasurer of the Nepal Chapter. “We received support from the popular Nepali comedians Dhurmus and Suntali. They started a foundation to rebuild the houses destroyed by the earthquake in the same village where we were establishing a computer hub. They provided us a room to setup the center.  Most of the people are using Internet for the first time because there was no such infrastructure before.”

Watch the video to hear from their voices.

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Do you have a great idea? We are interested in your project. We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet. Internet Society Beyond the Net Funding Programme funds projects up to $ 300.00 USD.

The post Connecting Nepal’s Earthquake Affected Communities with a Sustainable Model appeared first on Internet Society.

Internet Society

Keeping it green: IoT for sustainable retail

Stuck for a New Year’s resolution? Shopping more sustainably might be a good one. Especially if you’re suffering pangs of guilt following a Christmas plastic binge (think Christmas cracker toys and disposable cutlery, for instance.) Sustainable retail means many things, from opting for responsibly farmed produce, to keeping an eye on your carbon footprint. And retailers themselves have a part to play, by managing their stores with waste reduction in mind. With all this, the IoT can help. Let’s take a look at some sustainable shopping practices that might find their way into 2018.

Reducing waste in the retail store

Traditional stores and shopping malls face a challenge when it comes to operating sustainably. That’s due partly because a large physical footprint, temperature controlled interiors and lighting are somewhat unavoidable. Such a composition makes for high energy consumption because of sheer size and long opening hours.

As there are so many variables around how a store is used. From the number of people who are inside, to the weather outside, it can be difficult to apportion energy appropriately. It’s not easy to plan which parts of the store will be most visited, and which unused, at what times.

Then, there’s the equipment to maintain. Factor in a fridge with a door that refuses to close, and suddenly there’s yet more wasted energy. The fridge has to work harder to keep its contents cool. And the heating system has to compensate for the sudden drop in temperature.

But this needn’t be the case. By making stores ‘connected’, retailers can more efficiently manage energy and utilities to meet actual demand and avoid unnecessary waste.

What “connected” look like

A connected store is instrumented with sensors that measure data like occupancy in real-time, and transmit it to an IoT platform. When the platform is connected to operational systems like heating and lighting within the stores, it becomes possible to automatically manage those resources according to actual, not anticipated, need.

IoT solutions can help fix our faulty fridge, too, in the form of predictive maintenance. This means that a flaw or fault is spotted as soon as it happens – or better yet, when it’s about to happen – so that it can be attended to. Sensors that detect flaws in the machinery can report to the IoT platform, and automatically trigger a work order for a technician to investigate the issue. There’s no reliance on manual investigation and word-of-mouth reporting.

Helping shoppers make wiser choices

Of course, sustainable retail practices go beyond the stores themselves. As consumers, we also have a choice about the products that we buy. We can choose produce resulting from sustainable agriculture practices, that promote animal welfare and limit use of pesticides and antibiotics, for example. We can opt to buy Fairtrade, or prioritize goods with a low carbon footprint.

It seems that people are generally willing to choose sustainable goods over unethically manufactured ones, even if they come with a heftier price tag. According to a survey by Nielsen, around 75 percent of Millennials and Gen Zers would be willing to pay more for goods that are sustainably sourced.

The spirit is willing, then. But the tricky part is getting the information to help us make these choices. Sure, some labels include small print that tells you where the stuff has come from. But who’s got time to read all that detail? Here, the IoT could help make the process more streamlined, especially when we enlist the help of a smartphone app.

Shoppers could adopt a point-and-shoot method – scanning smart barcodes to instantly pull up key information. You could even make it super simple, by combining various attributes into a 1-5 rating system. A score of 1 is bad, while 5 is good. The rating could take into account factors to form the final score. These could include mileage, carbon footprint, point of origin, and whether or not food produce comes from a farm with a good reputation for humane livestock husbandry.

Hundreds of data points could be combined to give a robust rating that fairly evaluates sustainability based on multiple factors. That way, shoppers can get the key information at a glance. No ploughing through the details. And they’re safe knowing the scores are the result of thorough research.

The future of sustainable shopping

While some of these solutions aren’t yet widely used, the connected store is fast becoming a reality. IBM and Honeywell have been working together to achieve this, as you can see from this video. Meanwhile, you can check out our website to learn more about our other IoT for Retail solutions.

The post Keeping it green: IoT for sustainable retail appeared first on Internet of Things blog.

Internet of Things blog

Assessing a sustainable IoT future: Why security and connectivity barriers must be overcome

What will the connected world look like in 2030? According to a new report from Wipro Digital, a sustainable future will be achieved but only if certain barriers are conquered first.

The report, developed together by Wipro and non-profit organization Forum for the Future, found that although 98% of business leaders are sure that data and connectivity will contribute to a sustainable future, only 50% of them utilise them to support such efforts.

According to the study, the future vision for an IoT driven connectivity can be achieved when business leaders overcome some barriers associated with IoT, data and connectivity. Some of the barriers highlighted in the report include security risks and lack of necessary governance for artificial intelligence and IoT.

The business leaders industry experts surveyed for preparing the report have highlighted some concrete examples in which IoT, data and connectivity can help in driving a sustainable future. These examples include the use of technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality to help in understanding global challenges and empathising in situations that are distant from the individual; and use of data to inform and empower citizens to express their views and ideas to create the future of their dreams.

Jayraj Nair, VP and global head of IoT at Wipro Limited, said: "IoT, data and connectivity are changing the way we live and work – disrupting industries and reshaping the social landscape. To ensure these advances have a positive impact on the future, grow our economies and drive sustainable efforts, we must successfully and efficiently harness these technologies. The Vision 2030 report imagines a world where we can do just that, and offers suggestions on how to make those visions a reality."

Elsewhere, a report from Navigant Research projected that the global combined cumulative revenue for IIoT devices, software and services will surpass $ 1 trillion by 2027.

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