Serena Brown: The SDG Industry Matrix - Opportunities and Inspiring Examples for 7 Industries

By Serena Brown, Project Lead, KPMG International

Over the last few years I have been to many meetings where companies have been brought together to identify ways they can collaborate in pursuit of sustainable development. The conveners have been varied - corporate responsibility networks, NGOs and various international bodies. The outcome has always been the same: zero action because (despite multiple meetings) companies could not identify an issue and geography of common interest for which collaboration made business and development sense. 

Similarly, in the early months of private sector consultations to develop the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there was growing consensus on the need for the private sector to step up. However, to progress collaboration the conversation needed to get much more granular. A growing number of companies were breaking new ground, yet understanding remained patchy and vested in a minority of national and multi-national actors. It became apparent that analysing the private sector role through both an industry lens and a SDG issue lens would be enormously helpful, and hence the ‘SDG Industry Matrix’ was jointly conceived by KPMG and the United Nations Global Compact.

What is the SDG Industry Matrix?

The overarching purpose of the SDG Industry Matrix is to inspire and inform greater private sector action to drive inclusive, sustainable prosperity. We hope it will spark new innovative approaches, prompt companies to replicate successful activities in new markets, catalyse new collaborations and increase participation in existing collaborations. 

Recognising that the opportunities vary by industry, the SDG Industry Matrix includes a series of 7 industry publications which for each industry:

1. list some of the most significant good practice principles and initiatives;

2. describe some of the largest global multi-stakeholder partnerships and collaborations;

3. provide industry specific ideas for action for each SDG; and 

4. provide short practical company examples for each relevant SDG. 

The SDG Industry Matrix profiles “shared value” opportunities which in the context of the SDGs we define as ‘the coming together of market potential, societal demands, and policy action to create a more sustainable and inclusive path to economic growth, prosperity, and well-being.’ The Matrix is the outcome of wide-ranging international consultation and engagement; it reflects submissions invited from thousands of UN Global Compact signatories and other industry players, as well as perspectives from multi-stakeholder roundtables convened around the world. 

Timetable

The SDG Industry Matrix for Financial Services was launched on 25th September 2015, alongside the Summit to adopt the SDGs. The Matrix for Transportation will be launched in December 2015.  A further three (Industrial Manufacturing, Food Beverage and Consumer Goods, and Healthcare and Life Sciences) will be launched in January 2016, closely followed by Energy Natural Resources and Chemicals, and then Infrastructure and Real Estate. Please visit the UN Global Compact website for up to date information on industry consultations which are open for submissions. 

Cross-industry insights

Given the extent of the research and consultations which we have conducted so far, I can share six of my personal reflections on cross-industry insights to date:

1. Each industry can find opportunity in almost every SDG

2. Numerous good practice principles and initiatives, many of which are industry specific and address high risk issues (such as sustainable palm oil), are accelerating responsible business approaches;

3. In the last few years numerous multi-stakeholder partnerships have been created. These will be vital for delivering on the SDGs and they provide an obvious entry point for new actors. However, companies and other stakeholders are likely to need support in navigating their way through these partnerships – which often sound as if they have the same objectives (eg sustainable transport) – to determine which are likely to be the most effective and best fit for them.

4. Most industries’ approach to the environment and gender is more developed than their approach to socio-economic development. Companies often struggle to complement philanthropic socio-economic programmes with scalable business approaches;

5. It is incumbent on each industry to widen the net of enlightened companies engaged on this agenda;

6. Delivering the SDGs will require significantly more cross-industry collaboration.

 

I hope you find the SDG Industry Matrix inspiring, informative and engaging. Please do submit your company examples through the remaining consultations and feel free to contact me with ideas and suggestions (serena.brown@kpmg.co.uk / www.kpmg.com/globalgoals).

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