Learning from the best: 8 B Corps that are pioneering the SDG commitment
What we can learn from this year’s ‘Best for the World™’ honorees about tackling global challenges
Being the Best for the World
Each year, B Lab, the global nonprofit network that certifies and mobilizes Certified B Corporations, recognizes those B Corps across the globe that have achieved the highest verified scores in the five impact areas evaluated on the B Impact Assessment (BIA) — community, customers, environment, governance, and workers. Ranking in the top 5% of all B Corps by size group, these companies are recognized for their sustainable business practices and exemplary performance beyond commercial metrics.
However, what many of these B Corps have in common is not only the recognition as Best for the World™ 2021 but also their pioneering role in regards to businesses’ commitment to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Acknowledging that each and every business can (and should) take on responsibility when it comes to the global goals, B Lab and the United Nations Global Compact developed a free tool for companies to work towards the SDGs: The SDG Action Manger.
Taking Action on the Sustainable Development Goals
The SDG Action Manager offers companies an understanding of their contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals, and how they can manage their future impact. With the tool, companies can explore how they perform against those SDGs that are most relevant to their business practices, measure current performance, identify risk areas, and set goals to improve their performance.
In essence, the SDG Action Manager is structured around one baseline module and 17 additional modules, one for each SDG. The goal for companies is to focus on the SDGs most relevant for them and to complete the corresponding modules by answering the included questions.
SDG insights from 8 Best for the World™ 2021 companies
Sharing knowledge, best practices, and learnings amongst a community of over 4,000 purpose-led businesses represents one of the key values of the global B Corp movement. Therefore, the Best for the World™ recognition provides the ideal opportunity to learn from the best.
Here are 8 ‘BFTW™ 2021’ named B Corps that are excelling in their commitment to the SDGs, using the SDG Action Manager tool:
Germany | Wood Finishing Manufacturing
BFTW 2021: Best for Environment
PNZ is a German B Corporation and one of Europe’s leading ecological wood finishing manufacturers. Using natural, renewable, and environmentally friendly raw materials only, the Certified B Corporation has been recognized as Best for the World™ 2021 for excelling in environmental performance.
“We don’t see sustainability as a business goal, but as the central core of all our activities.” — Marcel Pietsch-Khalili, CEO at PNZ, in an interview with B Lab Germany.
While PNZ has completed 17 out of 17 SDG modules within the SDG Action Manager, goal 12-Responsible Consumption and Production is one of the key objectives of this family business. By focusing on the environmental impact throughout the entire product lifecycle — from development to packaging to end-of-life use, PNZ guarantees the protection of its workers, end-users as well as the environment at all stages.
The SDG Action Manager further reveals that the company is significantly contributing to SDG 13-Climate Action by achieving 100% CO2 neutrality across all operations including PNZ’s scope 3 emissions in the company’s supply chain. All of this has been accomplished through drastic reduction and optimization while compensating only those residual emissions that cannot be eliminated.
Placing great emphasis on SDG 9 -Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure, PNZ is continually striving for innovative products and processes. Since its foundation in 1970, PNZ is setting new sustainability standards in the chemistry industry with award-winning research projects and solutions for regrowing raw materials to replace petro-chemistry. In addition, the German B Corp also developed a novel cleaning system and a tool to assess the impact of different product packaging.
Italy | Olive Oil Manufacturing
BFTW 2021: Best for Environment
Fratelli Carli SpA is a historical olive oil company founded back in 1911. Since then, the family business has been guided by its passion for quality, love for the land, respect for people, work, and the cycle of the seasons. Over generations, these roots have translated into the adoption of sustainable farming practices, the use of renewable energy, waste reduction, environmentally friendly packaging, and the establishment of an internal sustainability committee. Thus, it is not surprising that Fratelli Carli has been named one of the Best for the World™ 2021 in the category of Environment.
According to the SDG Action Manager data, Fratelli Carli further has a sound commitment towards SDG 8 -Decent Work and Economic Growth among other SDGs (3, 7, 14, 15, 17). By working with over 200 very small and small local producers, Fratelli Carli is promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth in Liguria, Italy. Striving to achieve decent work for all women and men, the company’s quota of female staff amounts to 47%. In addition, Fratelli Carli provides increased training hours for employees of all levels and a welfare program that includes the areas of health, family, and free time. To further protect employees’ physical well-being, the Italian B Corp implemented a specific workplace safety management system and invested in the innovative seismic adaptation of its production plant, to make it earthquake resistant.
Fratelli Carli’s commitment to creating benefit for all is also directly reflected in the legal foundation the company is built on. In 2019, the business adopted the Società Benefit status — a legal form in Italy that allows companies to balance profit and purpose by creating benefit for people and the planet.
Italy | Software Solutions and Advisory
BFTW 2021: Best for Governance
As a software and advisory company, mondora aims to create benefit for all stakeholders by designing and building software solutions that maximize positive impact. In 2021, mondora was listed among the top 5% of over 4,000 B Corps in the category of Governance. This means the company is performing above average in overall mission, ethics, accountability, and transparency. Ever since its foundation in 2002, mondora has rejected the traditional hierarchical organizational model, adopting a flat organizational structure and agile methodologies instead.
Additionally, mondora is taking rigorous action on the SDGs. In an attempt to make the world a better place, mondora has several active ‘benefit projects’ such as Cycle2Work — an app that rewards employees for cycling to work whilst reducing their CO2 footprint or Hire a Farmer — an initiative to preserve local land, support organic farming and enhance employees’ health. For every 20 employees, mondora hires a farmer to work the land and grow organic produce that is distributed amongst mondora’s employees. With this project, the B Corp is actively contributing to SDG 3 -Good Health and Well-Being, SDG 11 -Sustainable Cities and Communities as well as SDG 12 -Responsible Consumption and Production.
Whenever a company becomes a B Corp, it is required to sign the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence. Pursuing SDG 17, mondora takes this concept even one step further, establishing a contractural Interdependence agreement with each new customer they are working with. These contracts describe SDG-focused projects in which mondora and their partners are committed by common agreement to generate a positive impact on the environment, people, or society.
In addition, following the idea of benefit by design, mondora tracks all its actions within a self-management platform that links every single action to an SDG and one or more BIA questions.
Italy | Design and Strategic Consulting
BFTW 2021: Best for Governance & Environment
Guided by their strong principles of caring for people and the planet, Goldmann & Partners Srl is operating in the field of sustainable architecture and bioarchitecture with a comprehensive design and project management activity. The company boasts long-standing experience in refurbishing large residential, commercial, and management buildings according to eco-sustainability criteria, as well as in designing high-quality and low-cost buildings to be used for residential and social housing purposes.
Like Fratelli Carli, Goldmann & Partners (G&P) has also adopted the legal form of the Società Benefit, committing themselves to create a positive impact for society and the environment. It is this holistic approach and consistency that distinguishes G&P as Best for the World™ in the areas of Governance and Environment.
Making the most out of the SDG Action Manager tool, G&P has concluded all 17 SDG modules. This means the company has put significant thought into all 17 Sustainable Development Goals by answering all questions of all 17 modules.
SDG 12-Responsible Consumption and Production and SDG 13 -Climate Action are the visible results of G&P’s work on all 17 SDGs. Besides their sustainable approach to architecture, other examples that demonstrate their commitment are G&P’s use of Lifecycle Assessment and Lifecycle Cost Analysis, and their Green Energy and Efficiency Audit (GEEA) — a strategic tool to assess all economic, social, and environmental costs produced by a building or group of buildings. Furthermore, all work conducted by Goldmann & Partners is underpinned by research carried out by the Goldmann & Partners Applied Sustainability Research Centre. Further, harnessing the power of collaboration, G&P works in partnership with research centers such as Fondazione Veronesi, universities, consultancy firms, and other businesses.
Italy | Sustainable Innovation Catalyst
BFTW 2021: Best for Governance & Workers
As a sustainability consultancy, Nativa is helping those business leaders who realize they cannot continue to operate as “usual” and must consider their company’s environmental and social impact. Nativa itself was born as a Benefit Corporation, the first in Europe, and further has been the first Certified B Corp in Italy.
Placing sustainability at the heart of their business operations, the company shows an outstanding performance in the areas of Workers and Governance, which earned Nativa the title Best for the World™ in 2021.
In regards to the global goals, Nativa expands its impact beyond its own actions by also helping other B Corps to work towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The Italian business even integrated the learnings from the SDG Action Manager into the company’s impact report of 2020.
Nativa is further progressing on SDG 17 -Partnerships for the Goals through its partnership with B Lab and its advocacy work for a better economy. The company actively supports the B Corp movement’s vision of shifting the way business is done. For example, Nativa has been a key actor in introducing the Società Benefit law in Italy, which allows business leaders to give greater importance to people and the planet instead of solely focusing on profit. This approach of respecting the interest of multiple groups is called stakeholder governance. Learn more about stakeholder governance in this interview with Eric Ezechieli, co-founder of Nativa.
Italy | Branding and Engagement with Tree Adoptions
BFTW 2021: Best for Workers & Governance
Treedom is the first web platform that allows individuals and businesses to plant and follow trees online, thereby creating value for the environment and farmers around the world. The Certified B Corp directly finances small agroforestry projects and further supports rural communities by providing training and financial support.
Their entire business model is built on impact and transparency, which earned the company a Best for the World™ distinction in the categories of Workers and Governance. Treedom’s philosophy is to create sustainable ecosystems (SDG 13-Climate Action) and allow farmers to meet the initial costs of planting trees, ensuring food sovereignty and income opportunities (SDG 8 -Decent Work and Economic Growth). From Zero Hunger to Quality Education, Treedom is actively contributing to multiple SDGs and has already completed all of the 17 modules in the SDG Action Manager.
Since 2010, Treedom has supported forestry projects in 17 countries, involving 129,310 farmers, 6,482 corporate clients, and 827,478 consumers. This has led to planting more than 2 million trees, absorbing about 607,866,360 tons of Co2.
Italy | Therapeutic Innovation Based on Natural Molecular Complexes
BFTW 2021: Best for Environment & Governance
At Aboca Group, natural, organic substances meet technological advancement, backed by scientific research that is further used to educate professionals in the healthcare industry. The Certified B Corp produces effective and safe medical devices and food supplements for human health and well-being.
Committed to using business as a force for good, Aboca is also acting and reporting on the SDGs (see impact report). While the B Corp has set priorities for a selection of different goals, SDG 3-Good Health and Well-being is firmly anchored in the company’s DNA. This includes their understanding of the close relationship between humans and nature as well as the creation of a positive work environment internally at Aboca. In addition, Aboca’s natural products are created to tackle syndromes and complex pathologies for which there are often no alternatives in traditional pharmacology.
Since 1978, Aboca runs a fully vertically integrated supply chain, from the cultivation of medicinal plants to production, packaging, and distribution. All the activities are developed in order to produce 100% naturally. This approach to SDG 12-Responsible Consumption and Production is extended by Aboca’s efforts to promote organic farming as a cultivation system that is based on respect for natural resources, biodiversity, and soil vitality (SDG 15). In addition, Aboca has a sound commitment to the dissemination of knowledge through the many initiatives offered by Aboca Edizioni and the free events created by Aboca’s Creative Department, promoting responsible consumption by raising awareness of the interconnection between people’s health and sustainable development.
The SDGs are also integrated into Aboca Group’s annual Impact Report.
Switzerland | Mobile Aeroponics Manufacturing
BFTW 2021: Best for Environment
CleanGreens Solutions is an award-winning Swiss B Corp that provides innovative farming solutions to produce clean, fresh, tasty and pesticide-free leaf vegetables with 97% water efficiency.
“Nowadays it is critical to use the least possible resources and to minimize the environmental impact of each activity.”
Guided by this statement, the company is mainly tackling SDG 6, 9, 11, and 12 but also made significant progress towards SDG 8-Decent Work and Economic Growth and 13-Climate Action, according to the SDG Action Manager data.
Disrupting traditional supply chains in the agriculture industry, the B Corp’s patented growing systems allow for:
- Localized production and thereby secured permanent jobs and food safety
- Higher yields and clean economic growth
- Reliable and predictable cultivation
- Reduced off-season imports and carbon emissions
- Reduced water consumption through closed-loop recycling irrigation
For their efforts to do good for the planet, CleanGreens Solutions SA was included in the Best for the Environment list of 2021, which distinguishes the top 5% of all B Corps in this category.
Final note: Businesses are important players in the journey towards fulfilling the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development. Instead of trying to tackle all Sustainable Development Goals at once, it is recommended for businesses to define priority SDGs to act upon. The SDG Action Manager is a free tool that helps companies to prioritize, manage, measure, and improve their impact in regards to the SDGs.