It was the event of the decade, and yet many were disappointed.

Did our leaders fail us at COP26? Perhaps.

But as we often say, a sustainable future is up to us all. Companies large and small, and the public equally, all have a role to play in ensuring the planet’s sustainability.

In light of the recent release of the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) Victoria’s Australian handbook for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we’re sharing some ideas and learnings from our own experience as sustainable development advocates, to demonstrate how you too can navigate SDG alignment for your organisation to address the world’s most pressing challenges.

The journey is not linear

Lesson #1: If you are beginning a process for SDG alignment, it’s important to remain open to change, and continue to seek out meaningful ways to align your organisation to the Goals.

Below is a brief timeline of Spatial Vision’s SDG journey to date. This represents a snapshot of our corporate initiatives, but it’s worth noting we’ve gone through three iterations of our plan in order to reach these milestones. And still, it doesn’t end there. As new information and approaches become available to us, we are evolving and adapting to suit.

2020 milestones

📍 Jan Spatial Vision introduced the SDGs as a strategic area of alignment
📍 Apr Began developing a Company SDG plan using the SDG Compass; promoted our support for the SDGs publicly for the first time
📍 Jun Ran our first internal value chain workshop to understand our company’s existing SDG impact
📍 Aug Established an SDG Working Group to evolve the plan to our Company SDG Ambitions (current)
📍 Dec Secured our first partnership for the SDGs

2021 milestones

📍 May Produced our first SDG report card
📍 Jun Joined the UN Global Compact
📍 Sep Ran our first company-wide SDG campaign for Global Goals Week
📍 Oct Contributed to our first journal article on industry partnership for the SDGs
📍 Nov Released our latest Climate Change Statement

You can make a real impact in just a year

Lesson #2: Don’t be afraid to “start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can”, as is so famously quoted. You will learn so much along the way.

Once you’ve established a plan, it doesn’t take much to get started. Just nine months into our plan, we began taking our first actions towards the SDGs. As we close out 2021, here are some of the actions we’ve been able to take in the last year in line with our ambitions.

  • Started conversations internally with a company-wide Global Goals Week awareness campaign
  • Empowered staff to integrate SDGs into their presentations
  • Incorporated SDGs into our project processes, inviting clients to consider collaboration for the Goals
  • Developed and submitted our Reconciliation Action Plan for review, to be worked through in the coming year
  • Published our first public report mapping our activities against the SDGs
  • Prepared a strategy to develop partnerships for the SDGs
  • Surrendered SV Maps print product production and introduced print-on-demand and digital options
  • Welcomed two new female staff to our IT team at Lapis
  • Audited recruitment copy to increase gender-neutral language and encourage greater gender diversity

Transparency is key

Lesson #3: If you’re making a genuine commitment to improve your organisation’s sustainability, aim for progress over perfection, and remain honest with your customers, suppliers and stakeholders.

Greenwashing is a serious risk in any corporate sustainability program, and it’s not difficult to create an impression of doing so despite good intentions. At Spatial Vision, we don’t have a perfect answer for this. However, our hope is that by being honest and transparent about our journey—inviting accountability where we can—we can avoid these risks, and continue striving for change.

How do I get started?

  • If you’re in Australia, the UNAA handbook contains some valuable insights and resources
  • The SDG Compass is a useful tool for businesses of all sizes – it helped us align our existing value chain(s) to the SDGs
  • Already aligned to the SDGs? Download our SDG Report Card Template (docx, 0.322MB) to start reporting on your progress
  • Looking to run internal workshops? Copy our SDG Trello Template and make it your own

Making a difference on the SDGs?

We’d love to hear how your organisation’s approaching it.

Tell us about your journey, and take a look at ours here.

Amelia Lazarus