How do you put the SDGs into action as a small enterprise?
When the UN launched the 17 Sustainable Development Goals back in 2015, it seemed to me that the framework for measures and indicators was directed towards large organizations’ measurement standards. So, I asked myself how the SDGs can be applied in small enterprises.
At that time, I was in the middle of moving from Copenhagen to Nice, in Southern France, to be able to enjoy the many hours of sunshine and have easy access to outdoor activities in this beautiful region. Before my move, I have been wanting for a while to work with sustainable business consultancy. Now, I have decided to take a different approach: to take action and be the change.
I love cycling and quickly decided to set up a bike tour company in order to help others to visit the region in a sustainable manner. My company, Lifesparkz Bike Tours, became my space for learning and making a difference in reaching the 2030 goals.
The mission of the company, Lifesparkz Bike Tours is quite simple:
To get more people to experience la Côte d’Azur and les Alpes-Maritimes by bike.
How to select targets from among the 17 goals?
The 17 goals are all interconnected to reach sustainable development. So, I took a very pragmatic approach to prioritize in accordance with my core activity.
I created a method where I selected the first 6 goals out of the 17. Then, I selected again the 3 main goals that are the main drivers for the service I offer.
After a while, however, I decided to include the goals that were a bit lower in my selection – as I find that the goals are interlinked and hard to differentiate in practice!
- Goal 3: Good health and well-being
- Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities
- Goal 13: Protect the planet and climate action
- Goal 15: Life on land
Converting the Goals into Activities:
When I work with the SDGs, I aim at converting the indicators of the individual goals into concrete activities that I do. For example, Goal #3 of Health & Well-being has a direct effect on cyclists, especially on their bodies and mind, by participating in a bike tour. It also includes road safety.
Goal #11 has a direct effect on the environment in the city of Nice. Guiding people in the area by bike, instead of using cars or motorbikes, which cause pollution and noise, is a more sustainable action.
How to implement SDG strategies in a small business?
To me, goal #13 and #15 are found in fundamental respect that I carry with me, when I am out in nature biking, e.g. I do not litter except in litter bins. Again, being on a bike, in general, is CO2 neutral as the engine is your body. You could argue that doing a lot of exercises makes you hungrier. Therefore, you have to count on the CO2 emissions from your food-intake in that equation. However, this gets a bit too complicated for me.
Goal #4, Quality Education, is integral when I develop my activities. I continuously try new approaches and ways to offer bike tours in order to reach my overall mission of getting more people to bike in the region.
By doing this, I also continuously work for creating and sustaining goal #17 partnerships. My approach to doing business is very much built on a network basis. I help other businesses and individual contractors as they help me.
Together, we are already getting more people to discover and experience la Côte d’Azur and les Alpes-Maritimes as a destination for cycling.
In these ways, keeping the SDGs as an integral part of a very low key and practical manner helps me to set the direction for my activities and methods. In everyday life, I do not think so much about them to be honest. However, they are always there as reference points when I make decisions on how to develop my business, and with whom. For example, I want cycling here to be inclusive and for everyone who likes to discover the world by bike and not just for top-trained, hard-core, sportive cyclists.
Everybody can be a cyclist – you too! Every pedal counts.
Written by guest blogger Tina Baltzer, owner of Lifesparkz Bike Tours. She is also the owner of Lifesparkz Consult – sustainable business, that focuses on the UN’s 17 SDGs.