An insight into the Swiss Triple Impact, a national sustainability program launched by B Lab Switzerland
In 2020, B Lab Switzerland launched the Swiss Triple Impact, a national solution-oriented sustainability program that fosters commitments of the private sector to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). An effective and essential program to achieve the 2030 Agenda.
B Lab and the B Corp Movement expanded into Europe in 2013, and since then have been gaining incredible traction across the continent. The urgency, the responsibility, and also the opportunity for companies to use their business as a force for good became increasingly evident over the years.
Shortly thereafter, the Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in September 2015 by the 193 Member States of the United Nations. The SDGs represent a unique international framework to address the most urgent issues of the 21st century, such as ending extreme poverty, reducing inequalities in all its dimensions, promoting inclusive economic growth with decent work for all, creating sustainable cities and addressing climate change.
The Swiss Triple Impact (STI) program was born out of an observation: the private sector’s commitment needs to be accelerated in order to meet tomorrow’s social and environmental challenges. The program thus responds to the need to bring on board companies that do not all have the means to easily get moving, including SMEs which make up the bulk of the Swiss economic fabric as well as large enterprises who are looking for ways to drive their own sustainability strategy along their value chains. It was therefore necessary to offer a common frame of reference for sustainability.
Using the Agenda 2030 as a reference framework for the STI was twofold: first, it set a common language amongst all the economic actors, irrespective of their degree of maturity in sustainability, and second, it allowed a quick alignment of the program with the priorities set out by the Swiss Confederation, ensuring thus broad support at the institutional level.
The program is independent of the B Corp certification, yet it acts as a complementary impact management approach for companies. On the one hand, it allows organizations that are at the very beginning of their sustainability journey to get in motion and start taking concrete actions. On the other hand, it enables businesses that are already B Corp certified to also measure their contributions to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda.
“In 2018, we started a pilot program in Geneva with the support of the local authorities. In less than 10 months +400 companies went through a first quick assessment of their social environmental impact and identified areas of improvement for a sustainable economy. It pushed us to go at the national level with a more qualitative engagement program designed to implement measurable actions to contribute to the SDGs and endorsed by the company’s CEO”,
says Jonathan Normand, founder and CEO of B Lab Switzerland.
Strong partnerships for the win
Concretely, the STI program is designed around a three-step approach to help Swiss businesses of all sizes and sectors to make concrete commitments to the SDGs. Participating businesses receive customized support through coaching, workshops, peer-to-peer networks and access to experts. They are also benefiting from the tools of B Lab, such as the SDG Action Manager. The group activities and workshops encourage the co-creation of innovative solutions between companies facing the same sustainability issues and/or belonging to the same local ecosystem.
The outreach of the program is ensured through the development of multiple partnerships across the country, at both operational and financial levels. All across Switzerland, partners are represented by the main actors of the local economic landscape, which may include the Chambers of Commerce, the Economic Promotion Department of the Cantons, industry associations, academic members and any other relevant associations. STI partners support the program through the organization of ad-hoc events and workshops, program promotion with partners’ own networks, and concrete support to participating companies.
The program’s impact is also reflected in the numbers: to date, more than 1,200 companies were made aware of the SDGs through the introductory workshops, over 290 have signed up for the program, thus committing to improve their impact and implement concrete actions within their company, and 13 companies have met the requirements to make it to the STI Directory (with 30 others under review process).
The Directory: The last step to concretely contribute to the SDGs
The final step of the program consists of a validation of the commitments made by the companies. Throughout their STI journey, companies managed to come up with a concrete action plan to contribute at their own level to the SDGs. These commitments are subject to validation by B Lab Switzerland, which ensures that measurable success indicators are associated with the commitment.
As an example, Menu and More AG, a catering provider, has put words into action and formulated four concrete pledges related to their prioritized SDGs:
- By 2030, they will reduce the carbon footprint of their menu by 30 %.
- By 2030, they will reduce their customers’ avoidable food waste by less than 10% of the production volume.
- By 2030, their company fleet is 100% CO2-neutral.
- By 2030, 100% of their packaging is made from renewable, biodegradable, or fermentable raw materials.
Who are these committed companies?
Companies of all sizes and all sectors can join the STI program, no matter where they stand in their sustainability journey. This aspect allows each company to act at its own scale in favor of the SDGs. This is what Magic Tomato, a company that delivers fresh and local products, highlights:
“The national scope of the STI convinced us to participate. Although the actions are taken at company level we feel that the positive impact is much wider than us.” — Aline Bissell, Offering & Sustainability Manager.
From a continuous improvement perspective, certified B Corps are encouraged to participate in the program in order to measure their impact on the SDGs. To date, 18 Swiss B Corps have also joined the STI program. This is the case of OA Legal, a B Corp certified Swiss law firm, that joined the Swiss Triple Impact to measure their impact on the SDGs. Fabien Gilloz says:
“As a law firm to achieve B Corp certification, it was a natural step to join the Swiss Triple Impact program. We believe that we all have a role to play in promoting sustainability. For our part, we are committed to making a positive impact in our day-to-day business and to working for the common good.”
Following the first year of successful implementation, and given the growing interest of the Swiss corporate sector, STI activities were recently diversified to offer specific pathways for industry associations and large companies that want to bring their value chain into the program. This is the case of Nespresso CH and Audemars Piguet who both signed up for the program and are working to engage their suppliers and distributors towards a more resilient and sustainable future.
From SMEs to “big players”, this program is creating a growing movement of committed companies that are working to reach the same goal: accelerate the shift towards a more resilient, inclusive and regenerative economy.
On September 15, 2022, B Lab Switzerland will gather its ecosystem during a stakeholder-driven businesses event: the Swiss Impact Forum. Stay tuned via B Lab Switzerland’s website to learn more about engagement programs and the transformation across the business sector in Switzerland!