Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE credits
In 2016, the work towards a more sustainable world increased momentum when the new 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) came into force. Now the SDGs will serve as a global agreement in the work towards ending all forms of poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change for the next fifteen years. By using standardized Environmental Management Systems (EMS) together with global goals, the author aims on finding ways in how consultancy companies can develop their environmental and sustainability work even further. The purpose of the outcome is to contribute with knowledge in on how to become a leader within sustainable performance and environmental management as well as providing Pöyry Sweden with the basic knowledge in how to develop its performance in order to meet the new ISO-requirements.
In the thesis the author developed a matrix-model in which the SDGs where connected to Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) as well as the Sweden’s Environmental Objectives (SEO). The aim of the matrix was to connect the SDGs to local ways of measuring environmental performance, but also on finding the SDGs that the consulting companies were most interested in. In order to collect the information, eight Swedish based consultancy companies (Acando, Accenture, Allies, U&We, Pöyry Sweden, Sweco, WSP and ÅF) where included. All companies where interviewed and took part in the matrix analyse.
Based on the research question “How can the SDGs together with ISO be integrated within the management system at a private consultancy company in order to create sustainable benefits, focusing on environmental sustainability, for the company, customers and the society where they conduct business?” it was possible to see that the implementation of the SDGs together with ISO provides sustainable benefits as well as new business opportunities. The results showed that the ISO 14001:2015 could be an advantageous and strategic tool for many consultancy companies. A fully integrated strategic management system would help placing the company in an advantageous position, ready for tougher legislation, customer demand and technical innovation. In combination with commitments to the SDGs the company could find new ways of inspiring its employees and finding long-term purpose for the company and its business.
The study made, proved that several of the SDGs are relevant for the interviewed consultancy companies. In the study the author experienced that three companies distinguished themselves when it came to leadership, internal driving force for finding sustainable business opportunities and finding ways of integrating the SDGs in the business. These companies were Allies, U&We and Accenture. For all interviewed parts, several goals are considered both as highly relevant, holding high business opportunities. A commitment to global goals could therefore have a positive effect on the company, providing a communicative strength and new ways of setting goals and bring visions forward.
To summarize, the consultancy companies who dare to take a lead in performing sustainable business can send a clear statement and inspiration to customers and the business in general that sustainability is important and should be a desirable goal for the company to achieve. These companies would be considered as role models within sustainability, creating a positive impact reaching beyond the business itself.