Sustainable development goals or SDGs are the most comprehensive universal goals undertaken by 193 Heads of state to achieve environmental, social and economic development in their respective countries through a set of 232 targets. They represent an extensive and consensual global effort that has gone into making a vision for a better world, to be achieved by 2030. In our article, ‘Achieving India’s Sustainable Development Goals In Healthcare Through Social Entrepreneurial Efforts’, we wrote albeit in brief on how social entrepreneurs can contribute towards achieving India’s SDGs. Aligning with relevant SDGs would help social entrepreneurs and impact organizations calibrate their outcomes with internationally accepted benchmarks and thus standardize their reporting.
Reporting Impact Based On SDGs
One of the best ways to align with SDGs is to design impact metrics on the lines of targets defined under the goals applicable to you. In this article on SoPact, Alan Pierce makes a strong case for aligning impact reporting to SDGs. He states that Leveraging the SDGs’ framework is ultimately about achieving the SDGs themselves. Let’s understand this with a hypothetical example. Consider you are a clean energy organization providing home solar solutions to BOP communities and you make them affordable by offering them installment based payment options. Here’s how you could align with SDGs.
Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Under this goal, target 7.1 states that ‘By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services’. A key metric under 7.1 is Proportion of population with primary reliance on clean fuels and technology.
You could report the number of beneficiaries or consumers of your home solar solutions as a percentage of population in the village or taluka or the district.
Target 7.2 states that ‘By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix’. A key metric under 7.2 is Renewable energy share in the total final energy consumption.
You could report the total units of energy (kWh) consumed by all your consumers as a percentage of energy supplied by the grid in the target district or taluka.
Please note these are very simplistic suggestions and you should look at them as ideas than real metrics.
Storytelling Needs To Follow Impact Reporting Based On SDGs
In one of my previous articles, I have stated that
Primary purpose of storytelling for entrepreneurial organizations should be to showcase the impact of their efforts on their target beneficiaries and other stakeholders. They need to articulate their vision for a positive social change.
So far I have opined that social entrepreneurs should align their impact metrics on specific and relevant SDG targets. I further argue that the storytelling approach of social entrepreneurs should follow these impact metrics.
While reporting on numbers on target 7.1, your story could delve deeper and focus on how your cleantech startup is building a reliable and easily usable home solar system that comprehensively addresses the lack of access to power of your target consumers. Such a story goes beyond just numbers of your beneficiaries and actually shows the practical utility and the ability of your product to make a positive impact.
While reporting on numbers on target 7.2, your story could address the larger cause of replacing fossil fuels based energy with modern renewable energy sources and how that particularly benefits the underserved communities in many indirect ways. For example, such a story could focus on how your home solar system pays for itself through savings on having a metered connection and thus is virtually free for poor households, while connecting it larger environmental impact.
It is increasingly becoming evident that there is a strong case for social entrepreneurs to align their impact reporting with Sustainable Development Goals set up by UNDP. Intuitively, it also follows that storytelling should also align with such impact metrics and convey a complete picture of your social impact. How this happens depends on how you use storytelling.