Webinar Blog: Business & the SDGs: What do Canadian businesses need to know & What can they do?

Business & the SDGs

On September 29th 2015 – just two days after the Sustainable Development Goals were officially adopted by 193 countries – the Global Compact Network Canada (GCNC) hosted a webinar regarding the comprehension and business possibilities related to the 17 new goals, with inputs from expert speakers: Business & the SDGs


  • Helle Bank Jorgensesn  –  President, Global Compact Network Canada
  • Ole Lund Hansen – Chief of Leadership Programs, UN Global Compact
  • Claus Stig Pedersen – Senior Director, Head of Corporate Sustainability, Novozymes
  • Tania Carnegie – MBA, CPA, CA, Leader, KPMG Impact Ventures


In her introduction Helle Bank Jorgensen outlined how the SDGs present an opportunity for a concrete framework to align the Sustainable Development Goals and Long Term Business Goals in order to help solve global challenges. The Global Compact Network Canada will help translate the SDGs for businesses in Canada and help companies understand how they can leverage these goals to drive good practices, growth opportunities, and capitalize on numerous benefits. Business & the SDGs

Some of those benefits were elaborated by Ole Lund Hansen, who specified that the main characteristics of the SDGs are their inclusive background (more than 1500 companies were consulted since 2012), their dimensions (combining social, economic and environmental issues) and their universality (they address and are meant to be acted upon by developing as well as developed countries such as Canada). While outlining the important roles of the UN, governments – who have to overcome the silo-approach and coordinate initiatives instead, development banks, foundations and NGOs, Ole emphasized the opportunity for the private sector. He encouraged partnerships across sectors with the use of the “SDGs as a common framework and common language”. Further Ole introduced the SDG Compass, a guide for business action on the SDGs that was launched during the summit. This Compass is planned to become the “Wikipedia of SDG related business tools” through an inventory of existing and new business tools, online business indicators mapped against the SDGs as well as a 5 step-guide to implementation:

  • Understanding the SDGs – Defining Priorities – Setting Goals – Integrating – Reporting & Communicating

Partnering for Impact Business & the SDGs

Following Ole’s presentation, Claus Stig Pedersen announced that Novozymes has made sustainability not only the strategy but the purpose of the company. The company also uses its sustainability strategies to improve its business and revenues. The SDGs have served as an inspiration for the company’s targets for 2020, which are set up as “outside-in targets” – therefore setting goals not measured by its own company’s past or benchmarks, but oriented towards global needs of sustainability. Novozymes is developing a SDG assessment and management tool to enable maximized contribution to the SDGs by looking at products and business models through a “SDG lens” assessing their impact. According to Claus the keyword for success of the SDGs is “Partner” and exploring Public Private Partnerships. Business & the SDGs

Canadian Perspective on the SDGs Business & the SDGs

Tania Carnegie outlined the SDG Industry Matrix, which entails specific ideas and opportunities for the sector of financial services. She further emphasized the universality of the SDGs as also 1/7 Canadians is living in poverty and especially indigenous peoples are still facing problems. Companies need to undertake a gap analysis and align their action plans accordingly in order to take their business forward. Tania agreed with Claus by reassuring the need to expand existing relationships and create new partnerships.

The UN Global Compact is the largest and most global platform for business engagement on the SDGs. To help companies in aligning their strategy and operations to the SDGs, the Global Compact Network Canada plans to launch targeted working groups, roundtable discussions and issue based workshops that will lead towards the concrete implementation of the 17 SDGs for its Canadian signatories.  For further information please contact Aparna Venkatachalam (aparna@unglobalcompact.ca). Business & the SDGs