Sustainable Development Goals: From obligation to sound business

With businesses such as Novozymes playing a key role, the world makes history this week when leaders meet in New York to adopt the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and kick-off a global campaign to improve lives everywhere and protect our planet.

Representatives of more than 190 countries will meet at the United Nations’ annual summit this week to agree on a global agenda, which includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The goals reflect the fundamental changes the world needs now and in the future to tackle poverty and climate change, and grow sustainably and equitably. Over the next 15 years, countries are expected to use these goals to frame policies, allocate financing and drive changes that will help build a more fair and sustainable world – for all.

Along with a number of other companies, Novozymes will also be present at this momentous occasion, with CEO Peder Holk Nielsen among the business leaders scheduled to speak at the summit.

A framework for good business
The goals aim to unite governments, NGOs, companies and communities to work together to drive the sustainability agenda for the greatest impact. Businesses play a key role and bear a big responsibility to be more sustainable and focus on sustainability. At the same time, the goals point towards the many opportunities for companies that spring from the global sustainability agenda.

“We are witnessing a truly fascinating, global shift in terms of the role of businesses,” says professor Claus Stig Pedersen, Head of Corporate Sustainability at Novozymes, who has been leading the company’s work around the SDGs. “Sustainability is simply no longer an obligation – it is sound business. A realization is now kicking in that some of the world’s most pressing problems – climate change, dwindling natural resources, rising population – represent opportunities, and by working with the SDGs, we can better identify and help solve these problems.”

Inspiration for decisions
Novozymes’ groundbreaking technology in bioenergy, detergents, food, and feed makes the company well-positioned to help achieve particularly the SDGs relating to food security, sustainable consumption and sustainable agriculture and energy.

“Throughout, we will partner with customers, governments, NGOs, academia, and fellow travellers in biotechnology to support achievement of the SDGs,” says professor Pedersen. “The goals provide a framework that could inspire the future business decisions that will help Novozymes fulfil its purpose of finding biological answers for better lives in a growing world. They will help companies like ours to consistently deliver solutions that contribute to sustainable growth.”

Assessing the pipeline of innovations
Going forward, Novozymes will look to include the SDGs in company management processes. A first step will be assessing the pipeline of innovations and partnership opportunities on factors including their potential contribution to the SDGs.

“That will inspire us, help prioritize our activities, help open doors and attract the right partners,” professor Pedersen concludes.

Novozymes is also in the process of developing a systematic approach to measure the company’s contribution to the SDGs, which builds on its many years of experience with Life Cycle Assessments that have successfully been used to measure the effect of biological solutions to the environment.

After the SDGs are agreed at this week’s summit, U.N. member states will begin adopting measures and actions to achieve the goals in their countries. ​