A business cannot thrive if it is not a part of a functioning ecosystem. Shared Value strategies can drive the achievement of the eleventh UN Sustainable Development Goal, Sustainable Cities and Communities. This goal encompasses every aspect of creating an ideal city environment and building strong communities, which provides a wide range of opportunities for business growth.

More than half of the world’s population live in urban areas – a figure that is only going to rise, with projections for 2050 setting the figure at 6.5 billion people, or a third of the population. It is essential to ensure that these spaces are conducive to a better quality of life and reduce the environmental impact. Poverty is often concentrated in cities, and the rapid pace of urbanisation is placing strain on integral systems such as the water supply and sewage disposal.

“Society is a socio-economic ladder,” JJ de Castro Maia, founder of social urban enterprise Bjala, noted at the 2017 Africa Shared Value Summit, “so if the bottom is not taken care of … the whole thing gets shaky at the top, no matter how high you are on that ladder.” Bjala takes on these challenges through its integrated approach to creating sustainable communities in cities – through housing, education, arts and the facilitation of job creation. The enterprise aims to create not soulless developments, but rather holistic living spaces that foster better community environs. Through the involvement of community members and partnerships with local schools and job creators, Bjala builds more than just low-cost housing – it strengthens and empowers local communities for the long term.

JCDecaux has the creation of Shared Value in its roots. Its founder was the innovator behind bus shelter advertisements, which gives brands a platform and also ensures that an important part of city infrastructure is cared for while relieving pressure on municipal resources. This legacy of innovative business thinking is reflected in the company’s continued commitment to its Shared Value purpose. A member of the Global Compact, JCDecaux has made sustainable development the core focus of their business, reconceiving and innovating products and redefining productivity in their value chain.

Their focus areas all contribute to the achievement of Global Goal 11: reducing their environmental impact, the implementation of health-and-safety and social policies, and reinforcing sustainable development in their purchasing policy. They are also committed to the top-down Shared Value approach that is aimed at strengthening their employees’ commitment to achieving sustainable development. To date, almost half of their electricity consumption is powered by green electricity and approximately 75% of their paper posters are recycled – and this is only a stepping stone on the way to their ambitious targets. They have instituted their International Charter of Fundamental Social Values, an ethical framework in line with the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Fundamental Conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which is adhered to by 99% of JCDecaux operations worldwide.

Every business can undertake a re-examination of its products and services, its value chain, and the economic ecosystem to find opportunities to innovate and flourish. These case studies offer just a few examples of how business can profitably make an impact on the cities in which they operate. Through the implementation of a Shared Value strategy that is embraced and driven by every level of management, your business can not only become an innovative standards leader in its industry, but also lay the foundation for sustainable business growth.

Image Source: Distilled Photography