Raleigh alumni come together to discuss sustainable business in the UK

10th August 2018

On July 26th, over 30 alumni attended Raleigh’s latest business networking breakfast to hear from Farooq Ullah, Co-Chair of UK Stakeholders Sustainable Development (UKSSD) organisation and Executive Director for the Centre for Development Results (CDR). Farooq discussed the progress the UK had made towards achieving the UN’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs), and the challenges facing British business in contributing to the SDGs. Here, we share some key points from the morning about what Raleigh alumni can be doing in their own businesses to help achieve the SDGs and move the UK towards a more sustainable future.

Every quarter, Raleigh alumni are invited to attend Raleigh’s Together in Business breakfast networking event. Raleigh’s professional alumni network is designed to help create the connections which can help you make lasting change through business. This event was kindly hosted by Arup Group through an alumni contact.

 

Farooq Ullah, spoke about how common misconceptions around what ‘sustainability’ means often act as barriers against real change and progress, particularly among those in the business community. Mis-held beliefs, such as that sustainable development is all about the environment, or that it is a ‘population problem’, can easily put people and companies off-track.

Also highlighted by Farooq was the fact that responsible companies need to map both their positive AND negative contributions to the #GlobalGoals in order to create truly sustainable businesses. Otherwise how can we really know own contribution?

Farooq pointed to a shift in attitude that is required in developed countries and the businesses communities in those countries, including in the UK. He posed the question about whether developed countries and businesses see the SDGs as something they themselves have to do or something they have to help developing countries do? It’s supposed to be both – and this needs to be reflected in business practices.

“Sustainability is much more about fairness. The SDG’s provide us with a universal framework for achieving a green and fair future for all free of extreme poverty. The universal aspect represents a pact between developing and developed countries. If we are asking developing countries to find new pathways for development, we in developed countries in turn must change the impacts of our own lifestyles.”

 

Farooq also reminded attendees that ultimately the SDGs can only be achieved through multi-stakeholderism and partnerships. That’s our big focus at Raleigh International and one of the main reasons for the creation of our alumni business network – we want to work with you, and to help you work with others, in order to drive sustainable change in the business community.

When asked what practical steps we can take every day to make effective change, Farooq suggested: “The key for business in advancing sustainable development is to ensure they both invest and avoid; it is not enough to invest in the SDGs, we must also avoid activities which undermine the SDGs. The challenge for us all is to better communicate and advocate the SDGs and their relevant benefits within own our organisations, and crucial, with others. Multi-stakeholder approaches and partnerships – such as UKSSD – are the operational answer to the Leave No One Behind Challenge.”

 

 

At the close of the event, alumni were asked to make a ‘responsible business pledge’ and commit to an action that will help further the success of the SDGs in their own businesses. Pledges ranged from raising awareness about sustainability issues with colleagues, to core organisational changes, such as changing annual reports to focus on the organisations own contribution to the Global Goals:

“I pledge to raise awareness of the SDG’s with colleagues and external partners, and think about how working towards sustainability can help the business grow”

“Sustainability can be implemented on a long-term basis through education. If we teach children core values and human rights – we will win”

“I pledge to promote a more diverse workforce”

“Make everyone and the business as a whole more aware and understanding of the 17 SDG’s (and then work towards implementation and measurement)”

 

 

Raleigh’s Head of Corporate Partnerships James Sutton said of the event:

“It’s these kinds of alumni actions that come out of the Together in Business network that makes it so inspiring and necessary. Through this community of engaged and passionate alumni, we will be able to create change through business, and create the connections that will see it succeed”

We’ll be hosting our next event on October 11th in London, and would love to see you there. Please email Jessica Middleton, Alumni Officer, at alumni@raleighinternational.org if you’d like to be notified directly when tickets are released.

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