We know we need to accelerate a sustainable economy, if we want to secure the future we want, the future that was designed through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We also know that we cannot achieve the SDGs without business - including Swiss businesses. Through their products and services, their value chains and their production sites, Swiss businesses can leverage the SDGs for regenerative and inclusive business models. How?
B Lab Switzerland developed a toolbox in cooperation with the Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE) to support Swiss SMEs on their journey to sustainability.
99% of Swiss businesses are SMEs - they are the backbone of the Swiss economy. They care about the future, they care about their business models, they care about leaving a legacy - a sustainable legacy. But typically, they lack the time and resources to further develop their business models in line with the SDGs and the corresponding expectations of customers and employees and the society. So we asked ourselves the question: How can we make sustainability more actionable and more tangible - also for SMEs? Two main challenges were to be addressed: Balancing complexity and simplicity while moving the needle from doing good to doing what is necessary:
Balancing complexity and simplicity
Through a number of iterations with the target group, we identified the success factors of the Toolbox Agenda 2030 for businesses. And - contrary to what we had expected - the main expectation was not to get as much context and explanations as possible, but that actionable information must be made available within seconds without being superficial - a balancing act difficult to master. As a result, the Toolbox provides a short and rapid overview about priority SDGs, goals and measures, but refers for deeper knowledge to tools and subject matter experts.
Raising the bar
On the other hand, we aimed to make sure that the information included provides insights into what is needed to achieve the SDGs and how businesses play a role in this. And not simply a mere information about regulatory requirements - which typically falls short of societal expectations. We know we are lagging behind to achieve the SDGs and we also know that business has a significant role to play. By having the SDGs and corresponding business objectives in mind as starting point - instead of incremental and continuous improvement - and aligning these objectives with representatives from different sectors allowed to backcast on the necessary actions to be taken.
As a results, we created a database with five areas we wanted to cover:
Pledges and actions aligned with the SDGs
Practical examples & good practices
Existing Tools & Standards
Strategic advice on how to embed sustainability in the business model
Plus, we customized the content for five specific industries: industrial production, gastronomy, financial services, construction and trade.
Planetary boundaries render sustainable business models the only option
The launch of the Toolbox 2030 for businesses is a piece of the puzzle to build the future we want, to create the economy we want, while there are many other pieces of the puzzle that still need to follow. Businesses that for a long time have been wanting to contribute to a future-fit economy but wondering how, can find through the low-threshold of the toolbox free guidance for sustainable business models. But what the development process of the toolbox also highlighted was that what business needs in addition, is a human connection and space to exchange, to connect, to collaborate beyond the boundaries of their businesses.
Do you want to learn more about the toolbox?