Reaching the UN sustainability goals with ASD

The Association for Supporting the SDGs for the UN (ASD) is an International Non-Governmental Organization (INGO) that supports the spread of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the implementation of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) among businesses, public institutions, and governments bodies. ASD serves as a special consultative body to the UN Economic and Social Council and is an Observer to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The company, which was founded in 2011, is headquartered in Seoul and has a Europe office in Tallinn.

ASD has a partnership with over 50 global companies and collaborates with them to promote the SDGs and introduces the best practices of the sustainable management models. ASD also provides specific guidance to companies in expanding sustainable business, in fields including climate change, net zero, and green transition.

Moreover, ASD acts as a bridge connecting the private and public sectors and encourages their participation and partnerships in SDGs and ESG-related activities. ASD is the secretariat of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea ESG Public-Private Policy Forum, and creates a space where politicians and business leaders gather together to discuss policy proposals in order to create a more sustainable society.

This week, the company is taking part of NEXPO Tallinn and introducing their best sustainability practices and initiatives to NEXPO visitors and other exhibitors. We asked ASD to elaborate on their actions towards a more sustainable future as well as tips for other businesses on how to create an ethical and climate-friendly business model.

Climate goals are the hardest to achieve

When asked about the most challenging United Nations Sustainable Goals to achieve by 2030, Hyeyoung Kang, ASD’s Deputy Representative, points out “Climate Action”, the 13th goal out of SDG’s 17 goals. “Although climate change is one of the most urgent and important matters in an era of global boiling, it is incredibly hard to bring nations and multi-stakeholders together to resolve the problem. To limit global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the worst impacts of climate change, science demands that greenhouse gas emissions must urgently peak, and reduce down to net zero by 2050. However, in contrast to the urgency, structural change and transformation toward a low-carbon society are facing many obstacles,” says Kang.

The lack of synergistic partnerships in order to achieve the goals can be one of the major reasons. Neither the public nor the private sector alone can achieve the SDGs. Everyone is subject to the adverse effects of climate change, hence, enhancing multi-stakeholder partnerships including governments, lawmakers, businesses and civil societies is critical in battling climate change.

Pushing for green transition through supporting global companies

ASD supports and organizes joint projects and initiatives with their partner companies who are focused on accelerating and promoting the implementation of the SDGs and ESG into business practices. In addition, ASD provides professional consulting to companies on global ESG regulations.

“From startups to global companies such as KT Corporation, SK Hynix and Intel, we work with companies come from a wide variety of industries, including water solutions companies such as BKT and technology companies such as Uniquest Corporation. Public institutions such as Korea East-West Power and Korea Real Estate Board are also partnered with us,” explains Kang.

No matter the size or sector, ASD is constantly finding ways to expand sustainability in their partner companies’ business management and introduce best practices to the United Nations and global audience.

In order to accelerate the achievement of SDG 12, one of the 17 goals, which aims to establish sustainable consumption and production patterns, the ASD works with companies that are closely linked to the daily living, promoting a more sustainable supply chain. Retailers like CJ Olive Young Corporation, Hyundai Department Store, Korea Seven, consumer brands, food and beverage companies and life culture companies work with the ASD in order to create a more sustainable business model, ecosystem and future.

“One of the projects we have worked on was introducing Best Practices for Resource Circulation in the Food and Beverage Industry in Korea to One Planet Network, a community that implements the United Nations’ 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production. We have compiled and introduced the efforts to use recyclable resources of 20 food companies including CJ CheilJedang and Hyundai Green Food,” notes Kang.

Additionally, a number of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have engaged in collaboration with ASD to reduce plastic use and recycle it for a circular economy.

Implementing the SDGs within the urban strategies of cities

Kang emphasizes that is of great significance for cities like Tallinn to embrace the SDGs in their urban strategies, as well as for cities worldwide. “The city of Tallinn has already been recognized as a sustainability and innovation champion for their systemic approach to green governance. Tallinn is a city that leads the way in digital technology and environmental preservation, thus it has great potential to enhance sustainability in areas such as carbon reduction, resource circulation, and especially climate adaptation,” says Kang.

Adapting to current changes due to global warming is as important as tackling climate change and reducing its adverse effects. It is imperative that cities such as Tallinn to predict and provide policy assistance to transform their city into a climate change adaptable location. By integrating the SDGs into urban plans, cities can strive to elevate the overall quality of life. Moreover, it can play a crucial role in contributing to the global effort to achieve these goals by 2030.

Kang continues: “ASD has been acting as a bridge between the public and private sectors in promoting and implementing sustainability for more than 10 years. We are striving to expand our mission within the EU, especially in Tallinn, the 2023 Green Capital. We would be more than happy to explore ways we can collaborate with Tallinn, a city with great potential, including taking part in joint sustainability projects where diverse levels of the public and private sector can cooperate together, especially in areas such as biodiversity, sustainable governance, climate action, and green innovation.”

Aligning the business models with the SDGs

In order to align a business model with the SDGs, it is crucial to conduct a comprehensive impact assessment to identify the specific SDGs that a company’s products or services can contribute to. “As responsible and ethical business practices are increasingly important to consumers and investors, aligning with the SDGs can be a source of competitive advantage. An impact assessment can help the startup identify unique selling points related to sustainability and social responsibility, setting it apart from competitors,” Kang explains.

When undertaking impact assessment, taking into account of sustainability in the whole supply chain is essential. In addition to whether the services or products the start-up is offering are sustainable, it is crucial that the ecosystem and lifecycle as a whole contribute to sustainability.

When asked about the sectors and industries having the most potential for impactful SDG-related innovations in the next decade, Kang points out sustainable finance. “Taking due account of environmental, social, and governance factors when making investment decisions, in other words, enhancing sustainable finance, encourages more investment in sustainable projects and activities of the private sector, and in the long term leads to building a more sustainable supply chain and ultimately a more sustainable society. More capital going in to sectors and industries that focus on sustainability will lead to visible changes and accelerate innovations.”

To achieve the SDGs by 2030, we need all hands-on deck. Finance is the key to bringing visible changes and accelerating innovations in all sectors and industries.

Discover ASD at NEXPO

At NEXPO Tallinn, the audience can discover a wide range of initiatives presented by ASD, in collaboration with their partner companies. The company introduces a wide selection of leading sustainability practices with their partner companies from a broad range of sectors, from everyday consumer brands, such as cosmetics, life culture, clothing and food, to biopharmaceuticals, water solutions, energy, and digital technology.

Kang expresses enthusiasm for the upcoming NEXPO week, saying that ASD is looking forward to introducing outstanding sustainable practices of their partner companies and promoting the importance of implementing SDGs in business management to NEXPO exhibitors and visitors and moreover, the European market. “In addition, we are searching for collaboration opportunities with companies that are aspiring to implement sustainable practices in their business models. We always welcome opportunities to encourage, build, and strengthen inter-sector partnerships between companies on sustainability. We believe partnerships between multi-stakeholders, especially in the private sector, are essential in making a more sustainable future,” adds Kang.

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