Research Partnership: How to make sustainable development a business habit

Australia’s Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the built environment sector face increasing pressures to incorporate sustainability in their practices. Yet, despite broad directives (e.g., NetZero) and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) ambitions, strategic change agents of SMEs have little guidance on how to re-align their practices to adapt to these disruptions. SDG Align has already partnered with leading Peak Industry Bodies to work towards a sustainable future in the built environment. But there is more to be done.

The Australian built Environment

While SMEs in the built environment account for 16% of Australian GDP or AUD 317 billion annually, the business case for sustainability-centered change in this sector, remains poorly articulated. The opportunity for Australian business to make a shift towards sustainable and circular business models in the built environment is huge due to disruptive events

Adapting to pressures for change will remain reactive, or even symbolic, if business owners and managers of SMEs in the Built Environment are not equipped with bespoke decision tools to help incorporate sustainable development into their ongoing strategic renewal.

SDG 17 – Collaboration

We cannot solve the “wicked” challenges as defined by the SDG’s alone. It requires collaboration between all stakeholders such as citizens, governments and business. This is why we have decided to join forces with academic lectures and researchers from both, The University of Western Australia and Monash University in an effort to build the next version of the in-depth measurement instrument and decision making tool “the Sustainable Development Toolkit based on our Good Design Australia Award winning Ready Reckoner” for change agents at SMEs in the Built Environment Sector.

Research Goals – Doing business for good is good for business

In particular this collaboration seeks to achieve three goals;

  • to help SMEs articulate a clearer SDG motivation;
  • to provide them with actionable steps that carve out an individual change journey for each firm and;
  • to build overarching understanding for the effectiveness of SDGALign in directing SDG oriented change journeys with intended spill-overs for government and policymakers.

Our collaboration, started in March 2021, and substantiated with a Memorandum of Understanding in October 2021 seeks to add to the fast emerging dialogue on SDGs in the Australian business context and the Built Environment Sector specifically.

Sustainable development goals are fast becoming one of the most important indicators of firm success. While Australia has not traditionally been a frontrunner in this respect, the political landscape is now changing, partly because of international pressure and international trade requirements but certainly also due to domestic consumer demands. It is our long term goal to support Australian companies to transition faster and more effectively in lieu of their SDGs. This will be a benefit for the firms involved, their customers and Australian society at large.

Moving forward

We are working towards an Australian Research Grant and are in the process of selecting more partnerships. If you want to contribute please let us know by sending an email to willem@sdgalign.com.au or ring 0477 957 911.

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