SDG Consulting: Brewing the SDGs into Your Business Strategy

How SABMiller creates major impact in 5 distinctive ways
SDG Consulting: Brewing the SDGs into Your Business Strategy SDG Consulting: Brewing the SDGs into Your Business Strategy
Publ. date 6 Jul 2016
With an estimated value of €51 billion and an annual production volume of 380 million hectoliters in Europe alone, creating value for business and simultaneously creating a more sustainable path to economic growth, prosperity, and people’s well-being is key in the global beer industry. Today, the industry faces challenges as population growth, changing consumer preferences, climate change, and demographic shifts. Therefore, the integration of the Sustainable Development Goals into companies’ core business is fundamental for future success.

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It is for good reason that governments call on all businesses to apply creativity and innovation to solving these challenges. 90% of executives, managers and thought leaders agreed that effectively addressing global sustainability challenges cannot be done single-handed. Therefore, multi-stakeholder collaborations and partnerships are a necessity.  

SABMiller: 5 shared initiatives that contribute to the SDGs

One of the front running companies in the beer industry is SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewer. They designed a sustainability development strategy in such a way that it captures the Sustainable Development Goals. SABMiller recently published its 2016 Sustainable Development Report, called Prosper. The aim of the program is to tackle societal challenges that are also business challenges, and doing so in a way that delivers value for both business and society.

By focusing on what matters locally as well as on global Prosper targets, SABMiller has identified opportunities to create value from the Sustainable Development Goals. The company moves to practical implementation by means of the following 5 shared initiatives:

  • A Thriving World in which it provides markets, jobs and skill in order to improve incomes, livelihoods, and quality of life. One of SABMiller’s local initiatives takes place in Uganda, where its subsidiary Nile Breweries partners with local farmers to produce beer from local raw materials that meet local demand. To date, this initiative has led to sustainable income for 20,000 farmers.
  • A Sociable World in which SABMiller supports consumers in making responsible choices about their consumption and lifestyles. Together with the Panama Ministry of Transport,  SABMiller runs a program called Cervecería Nacional Vía Responsible, to highlight the most dangerous behaviors behind the wheel, including drinking and driving. Traffic accidents reduced by 15% since the inception of the program in 2011.
  • A Resilient World where SABMiller secures clean water for its business, value chains, ecosystems and communities. To achieve this, SABMiller reduces  water consumption in all of its breweries and sets up local initiatives to improve water quality and access. Furthermore, the company partners on a local level to (re-)introduce more environmental friendly farming techniques.
  • A Clean World where efficiency is maximized and simultaneusouly emissions and waste in operations and the value chain are minimized. In its breweries in South Africa, SABMiller developed a sinner strip technology which enables them to brew beer at low temperatures. This has led to reductions in CO2 emissions, and energy usage has diminished with 10%, resulting in lower costs.
  • A Productive World in which it supports agricultural value chains by protecting ecosystems and enhancing food security. SABMiller’s aim is to move beyond certification. One of its local partner initiatives in Honduras aims to modify traditional procedures for washing sugar cane. Up to now, this has resulted in a reduction of pesticides of 27% and improved working conditions for cane cutters.

Learnings from SABMiller

What the example of SABMiller shows is that companies can play a crucial role in tackling today’s global sustainability challenges. The role of SDGs in its Prosper program is crystal clear – they function as a lens through which to view some of the initiatives included in Prosper and to understand and explain potential impact for society. Nevertheless, SABMiller realizes it cannot focus on all goals in an equal manner, as explained by Anna Swaithes, Director Sustainable Development: “We have also been very honest with ourselves about what we can and cannot influence”. SABMiller is very much aware of where they can and should make a difference. This is where the connection of the business needs and the societal needs is at its strongest.

As a multinational organization, SABMiller addresses local needs by means of local initiatives in which it collaborates with local stakeholders. Additionally, SABMiller recognizes the sustainable development goals not only as a framework for risk mitigation, but as a tool to identify opportunities from it which create value for both business and society.

Want to create impact today?

At Finch & Beak, we believe that the rapidly shifting society is spurring companies to adjust existing business in order to secure their future success. Finch & Beak recently developed a 5-week readiness assessment tool which helps you in mapping the sustainable development on your business priorities. If you are looking for practical guidance on how to conduct the SDGs readiness assessment, call Jan van der Kaaij today at +31 6 28 02 18 80 or send him an email at jan@finchandbeak.com.

Image source: SAB Miller

About Bas Nuijten

Sustainability professional with the aim to help organizations to continuously improve their sustainability strategies. | 
bas@finchandbeak.com

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