The 17 UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) were adopted in 2015 and have truly become goals that countries, companies and institutions adopt and want to work with. But how are we to determine and measure the sustainability impact of different solutions? A new tool aims to help act out the many good intentions.
Even though many countries, companies and institutions support the UN SDGs, many are yet to translate them into concrete plans that can push the global development in a more sustainable direction. Developing a tool for measuring how sustainable initiatives are will help change that.
“It’s a complex task to work with 17 goals and 169 targets. So, we need to make working with SDGs more tangible, measurable and action-oriented,” says Project Manager Susanne Vedel Hjuler, who is developing the new impact measurement tool in cooperation with COWI colleagues and DTU Management, the Division for Quantitative Sustainability Assessment.
In Denmark for example, a Deloitte analysis shows that more than 50 per cent of the major municipalities are talking about the goals on management level, and 44 per cent believe that the goals are important or very important to the municipality.
But the municipalities and others need assistance to act out their words, says Susanne Vedel Hjuler.
"The project aims to develop a simple and scientific tool that can deliver measurable and understandable results for how companies and institutions affect the SDGs. This will contribute to more incorporating SDGs in their strategies and daily activities,” she says.
Priority will be given to the SDGs and targets that are most challenging to Denmark, and to the SDGs and targets where Danish companies and institutions – including municipalities and utility companies – have the largest potential for contributing to a more sustainable development.
“It’s very much a matter of reducing resource consumption. That’s the burning platform we’re facing in Denmark and other affluent societies that boast a high consumption of transport, electronics, clothes and other material goods,” says Susanne Vedel Hjuler.
A vital part of the project involves establishing dialogue with companies and institutions on their wishes and needs regarding measurement and reporting of SDGs. This dialogue will, along with test application on selected projects, ensure the tool’s usability and value, thereby contributing to the best possible consultancy services on sustainable solutions.