Setting Goals

26 Nov 2019

Iris Van der Veken, RJC executive director, discusses the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how any business in the jewellery supply chain can contribute to this global agenda.

Iris Van der Veken RJC

What are the SDGs and why are you a leading ambassador for them?

The world’s population is expected to reach 9.8bn by 2050 and is set to eclipse 11bn by 2100. It was 1bn just 200 years ago. With these numbers in mind, how can mankind better manage its growth and resource consumption while also ensuring adequate access and opportunity for all?

The 2030 Agenda’s 17 goals address the most urgent issues facing humanity today: economic disparity, climate change and political and social instability. It’s about building trust not only in your company, but also in your markets, your industry and the economy as a whole. We need to act and think long term.

The Agenda cites businesses as “major drivers of productivity, inclusive economic growth and job creation”. The jewellery industry has a huge opportunity to contribute to this agenda – it’s all about confidence and product integrity.

2030 may seem a long time off, but there’s not a moment to waste. It’s the biggest transformation challenge the world has ever faced and it will take all stakeholders to pull it off: business, academic world, governments, the private sector, civil society… and all of us as consumers.

With over 1,200 members the RJC plays a very important role in mobilising and facilitating companies to make a difference.

Explain the RJC’s partnership with the UN’s Global Compact?

We believe in a Partnership Model. Working closely with the UNGC adds tremendous value for our members, supporting them in their sustainability journey through building practical toolkits and training material. The partnership also gives us the opportunity to learn from other industries how they tackle sustainability challenges in their supply chain.

What steps can any company take to start the journey?

The point of the SDGs is to create focused collective action to tackle global issues – challenges no company can tackle alone, requiring a shared approach. Applying this principle to our industry, we need an integrated approach from mining to retail to drive this Agenda forward.

So how do you start? The role of any company small or big is to align their efforts with the most relevant SDGs for their business and make positive changes within their sphere of influence.

1. Understand the SDGs within your business operations

Mapping out your company’s direct and indirect value chain impacts (eg key supplier locations, the use of your products or services and direct impacts of your operations and customer/use) will help identify where your impact overlaps with the SDGs, and places where there might be commercial opportunities in making a contribution to an SDG. The risk assessment tool of the RJC’s Code of Practices can help in this journey.

2. Define Priorities

No business can act on all 17 goals or prioritise them all equally. Identify those that really speak to you and your business and fall within your sphere of influence, allowing you to make the most positive impact. Choose the goals that align most closely with your business needs, priorities and stakeholder interests. The Code of Practices covers many different areas of the SDGs.

3. Set Goals

Select and prioritise the most relevant targets you’re going to measure and track. This may be based on relevance and alignment with your business, metrics and goals you already track, business objectives and strategies, and those that resonate with your employees.

4. Integrate

With a shortlist of goals and targets, identify gaps in existing measurements and in business practices against the list outlined. Setting internal business goals and the plans to meet them will help to engage your colleagues regarding improving opportunities.

5. Communicate, Act and Collaborate with stakeholders

Communicate regularly with your employees and other stakeholders on how the efforts are going to make sure your targeted SDGs are visible and become part of normal business activity.

Final thought 

I’m looking forward to identifying synergies with other organisations; working closely with our members to build long-term sustainable development pathways; formulate an actionable roadmap and report back on progress made and lessons earned. Working together more closely is the only way forward.

Download Feature