What Maine Businesses Need to Know About Global Sustainable Development Goals

“This is the future, and the question is are you ready for it, or are you going to play catch-up?”

Adam Roy Gordon, Engagement Director for Global Compact Network, USA says every company in Maine needs to be asking this question when it comes to building a more sustainable and profitable business.

The Global Compact Network is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative and over 700 companies in the United States have signed on. Gordon’s job is to interact with these companies and encourage others to join this global movement.

Adam Roy Gordon

“It starts with the recognition there’s no isolated local business anymore,” says Gordon. “Global supply chains. Global customers. If you own a successful company, even a small one, you’re engaged in the world, and the question is how are you engaged in the world? Are your values present in your business?”

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by 193 states at the United Nations in September 2015, set an agenda for achieving a prosperous, inclusive, and sustainable society for all by 2030. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at the heart of this plan.

While the SDGs may sound lofty, Gordon explains they are not simply a plan for global sustainable development, they are also a business plan, a path for companies to follow which is universally approved by countries across the globe.

“It starts by putting down in writing what your company stands for and setting policies that support those values,” says Gordon. 

How can your business get started? In addition to joining the UN Global Compact, which involves a CEO letter to the UN Secretary General affirming your company’s support, Gordon suggests using the SDG Action Manager tool to better understand the opportunities for your business found in the SDGs.

If you are doing business internationally, Gordon says your customers and investors overseas already care about sustainability and will want to know what you are doing to make your business align with these global goals.

“Corporate reporting in Europe requires climate reporting now,” says Gordon. “Investors are putting more capital into sustainability, and large companies are factoring sustainability into their supplier scorecards. If you are cost competitive with another supplier, maybe your sustainability characteristics will get you the job.”

Gordon points out that a focus on sustainability doesn’t sacrifice profits. A UN assessment of the business opportunity in achieving the UN SDGs could generate $12 trillion in business savings and revenue.

Making your business more sustainable can be as simple as reducing your energy usage or figuring out if the raw materials you waste every day could be turned into a new, profit-generating product. The pandemic has forced many companies to innovate, and Gordon says sustainability needs to be part of that process.

“This is a globally accepted business plan of what the market opportunities are in the world,” notes Gordon. “This is the way the world is going. Are you going to be there or be left behind?”

Learn More

MITC Maine North Atlantic Development Office Director Dana Eidsness has developed a sustainability webinar series featuring Adam Roy Gordon from the Global Compact Network to help Maine companies learn how to engage with the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, the United Nations Global Compact, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals for business success.

Recorded Webinars:

The UN Global Compact and Your International Business Success
Making Global Goals Local Business

Upcoming Live Webinar:

Maine Companies as Global Sustainability Actors