ComplianceESGMay 11, 2017

How these 5 key industries can advance sustainable development goals

Are you familiar with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals? Adopted in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs), officially known as “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, include 17 goals designed to achieve a better future for the planet and humanity. Each of the 17 goals has specific targets regarding sustainable development issues.

What can responsible businesses do to advance SDGs while remaining profitable? A company that does not generate profits would cease to exist. But making the world a better place and making a profit do not have to be mutually exclusive concepts. This is what responsible companies know and have successfully shown.

In an effort to showcase industry-specific examples and ideas for corporate action related to SDGs, the UN Global Compact and KPMG have published SDG Industry Matrices for various verticals. Each individual Industry Matrix profiles opportunities that companies can take to create value for shareholders and society.

In this post, we highlight specific opportunities that companies from five key industries can take to advance SDGs while making their businesses more profitable and resilient. These opportunities create shared value both for the company and society.

Food, Beverage & Consumer Goods

The SDG Industry Matrix highlights the following opportunities for shared value:

  • Provide training and best practice guidance to small scale producers and retailers, including women-owned businesses, to improve the productivity, capacity, logistics and market efficiency of their operations.
  • Reduce natural resources and energy used in agriculture and raw material production, processing, packaging and distribution.
  • Reduce waste and emissions by reducing chemical byproducts.
  • Embed sustainability criteria in procurement processes and project evaluation.
  • Find alternatives to palm oil.
  • Take steps to measure, reduce and report climate exposure, and set measures of accountability for all parties involved in supply chains.
  • Understand end-of-product use and disposal impacts.
  • Monitor and reduce food loss and waste throughout the value chain.
  • Develop consumer knowledge around sustainable agriculture and consumer products, and encourage recycling and sustainable disposal of products.
  • Increase organizational awareness of the sustainability aspects of products, including product design, use and disposal.

Healthcare & Life Sciences

The SDG Industry Matrix highlights the following opportunities for shared value:

  • Develop innovative micronutrient supplements and food fortification solutions to reduce vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
  • Increase the proportion of people attending regular health checks.
  • Continue improving early diagnostic techniques.
  • Develop affordable preventive, diagnostic and curative healthcare solutions for neglected tropical diseases and other health challenges in low and middle income countries.
  • Invest in telehealth and telecare to reduce patient travel and improve quality of care.
  • Increase proportion of energy from renewable sources and increase energy efficiency in hospitals, healthcare centers, production plants and across the logistics value chain.
  • Replace cold chain hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and derivative chemical refrigerants with natural refrigerants.
  • Design medical devices with lower power consumption and improved end-of-product lifecycle recycling.
  • Develop and implement improved processes to reduce, reuse and recycle water, raw materials, non-renewable minerals, energy, other inputs, by-products, hazardous waste, nonhazardous waste and packaging.
  • Build environmentally sensitive hospitals, primary healthcare centres and production plants.

Industrial Manufacturing

The SDG Industry Matrix highlights the following opportunities for shared value:

  • Develop more resource efficient machinery that generates less effluent, waste and pollutants.
  • Apply a circular economy mindset when designing products so that there is improved end-of-product lifecycle reuse and recycling.
  • Incorporate innovative technologies, such as 3D printing, into manufacturing processes to reduce waste from long-run production and prototyping.
  • Develop and implement improved processes (e.g. closed loop manufacturing) to reduce, reuse and recycle water, raw materials, non-renewable minerals, other inputs, by-products and waste.
  • Source materials from sustainable sources (e.g. forestry products) and components with lower embedded energy.
  • Increase energy efficiency in industrial manufacturing plants and across distribution networks.
  • Increase the proportion of materials and components that are sourced locally in low and middle income countries.
  • Build the resilience of suppliers in emerging economies to reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters.


The SDG Industry Matrix highlights the following opportunities for shared value:

  • Develop innovative transportation solutions, including pooled freighting services, which facilitate cost-effective movement of goods.
  • Extend freight transport to underserved areas, for example, developing inland marine access points.
  • Increase the energy efficiency of vehicles, vessels, rail rolling stock and aircraft, and accelerate the transition to transport powered by renewable energy (including development of next generation biofuels).
  • Achieve zero defect production in order to minimize resource wastage and costly product recalls.
  • Replace hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) with natural refrigerants for transportation of food, vaccines, pharmaceuticals and other products requiring refrigeration.
  • Reduce injuries, fatalities and losses from road traffic and railway accidents through the improved design, maintenance and operation of vehicles and trains (including autonomous vehicles), improved infrastructure, and road safety programs.

Energy, Natural Resources, Chemicals

The SDG Industry Matrix highlights the following opportunities for shared value:

  • Collaborate with governments and other stakeholders to extend electricity grids to underserved communities including fragile states.
  • Provide off-grid communities with access to affordable renewable energy (e.g. through low-carbon micro-grids or low-cost community solar systems).
  • Develop and scale breakthrough technologies to accelerate the transition to a higher share of renewable energy (solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and biomass) in the global energy mix.
  • Collaborate with industrial manufacturers to substantially increase the capacity and efficiency of power storage systems.
  • Reduce and eliminate routine flaring in oil production.
  • Reduce methane emissions along the gas value chain.
  • Develop and implement improved processes to reduce inputs, i.e. raw materials, water, nonrenewable minerals, etc.
  • Source materials and raw inputs with lower embedded energy.
  • Minimize waste and effluent resulting from production, and improve recycling and reuse of outputs.
  • Invest in research and development to expand the application and cost-effectiveness of chemical bio-alternatives (e.g. to replace single use plastics).
  • Develop and scale new energy technologies, chemicals and production methods that reduce contamination and air and water pollution.
  • Ensure mines and production facilities are resilient to extreme climatic events.
  • Share health and safety innovations and best practices with other industry stakeholders to minimize the risk of injury, illness and fatality from hazardous chemicals, air pollution, road collisions, mine collapses and other industrial accidents.
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Content Thought Leader - Wolters Kluwer Enablon

Jean-Grégoire Manoukian is Content Thought Leader at Wolters Kluwer Enablon. He’s responsible for thought leadership, content creation, and the management of Enablon insights articles and social media activities. Jean-Grégoire started at Enablon in 2014 as Content Marketing Manager, and has more than 25 years of experience, including many years as a product manager for chemical management and product stewardship solutions. He also worked as a product marketing manager.

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