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How to translate the Sustainable Development Goals into a global language for good

Interview with Mitra van Raalten & Frédérique Moolenbeek.

We need change. Since the introduction of the Sustainable Development Goals - a collection of 17 global goals designed to be a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all -  by the United Nations, it has become ever so clear that it is time to steer our society in a new direction. But the goals set by the UN are large and therefore hard to grasp. This is why the SDG Impact Collective was born, bridging the gap between the SDGs and human understanding of how to reach those. Initiated by James Veenhoff and Mitra van Raalten, Frédérique Moolenbeek and Mitra are the steering forces in this collective towards a sustainable future. 

“We aim to move beyond setting goals; we want to help companies become the pioneers in their industry and inspire not just their customers, but also all other stakeholders.”

What makes the SDGs so important?

Mitra: “The SDGs are broad and super extensive, they consist of 17 goals and 169 unique indicators varying from nature preservation and sustainability to inclusivity and global well-being. That is why a lot of people and companies are currently lost, but the mission ‘to leave no one behind' has a beautiful and inclusive shape that people can connect to. The SDGs, when made more tangible, will become a global language for good.” 

To understand the language of the SDGs, we have to overcome two challenges. 

  • Redefining our meaning of sustainability. It is not just about climate anymore. In the past, ‘sustainability’ was open to everyone’s interpretation, now the SDGs introduce scales to measure it and to challenge yourself. 

  • Being respectful of the time it takes. Companies can not start better performing within a week, to become sustainable it is necessary to go back to the mission and vision of the company and redefine brand and purpose-driven strategy. 

Every business should start with a baseline measurement, a zero benchmark, and begin setting concrete goals through the SDG indicators that fit the company best. Frédérique: “If you set measurable targets, you challenge yourself ánd others. The more people do this and talk about it, the more people start to understand what it means and how it can help us.”  

Working this way, the SDG Impact Collective functions as an open platform, actively involving a diverse group of people from different generations, backgrounds, and expertises. An inclusive Collective that constantly expands the circle of collaboration.

What is the SDG impact collective, and what are you doing to help companies understand the SDGs?

The SDG Impact Collective is an ever-growing team with a diverse set of SDG expertises. These diverse experts collaboratively help a company in every step towards understanding and realising the relevant SDGs for their projects, while involving the people in the company along the way. 

Mitra: “We are creating a platform to train people within companies on SDGs. The platform allows you to take your time, because it needs time to let it sink in. It starts with a vision and a mission, a brand strategy and a purpose-driven strategy. What do you want to do as a meaningful entrepreneur or company? The exchange of ideas and knowledge is an important part of the collective.” 

Frédérique: “Our way of working is to start understanding the world, five years ahead. What is the brands’ or company’s role in that future and which SDGs fit best? The combination of different fields of expertise for different parts of the process is where we want to work towards.”  

This is the core strength of the SDG Impact Collective, the collective has been developed from the start to constantly be open for growth and new directions. 

Mitra: “But it all starts with creating clear first steps and defining relevant metrics. We will help you to answer the relevant first questions: what is your current impact and what are the goals you want to set in the future? Together we will find those answers and make sure that the SDGs are not just big abstract goals. The SDGs are chopped in realistic and clear steps that everyone understands and can be measured in their progress, so that we can start creating a positive impact.”  

The SDG Impact Collective has started its first projects and is now helping the clients to define specific goals for these companies based on the SDGs, but this is only the start. In the near future the collective wants to go beyond just creating a strategy. 

Mitra: “We want to combine thinking and doing, that is the force we bring to improve a business. If we have fulfilled the impact cycle together, then it is time to act. That is why these collaborations can take years, the collective will help you create focus on going where you want to be. If you are collaborating you can also start sharing the knowledge you learned so others can learn. It is time to exchange experiences!”

Ready to co-create impact

The process has already started, while we are working on defining strategies for the SDGs, partnerships are created to combine thinking and acting. In this way, it is only a (short!) matter of time before diverse expertise will co-create in the impact cycle. Let’s translate the SDGs beyond a global language, let’s use them as a foundation for our new society.  

Interested in getting in touch or learning more about the SDG Impact Collective? Send us a message, we are curious what you think!


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