17 goals to transform the world?

In September 2015, world leaders adopted a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.

For the goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part: governments, civil society and the private sector.

The SDGs highlights the link between health and wealth, and set a new course for a world in which?people can thrive, within the boundaries of the Earth.


Novo Nordisk sees the SDGs as an opportunity

For Novo Nordisk, these goals present an opportunity to step up on sustainability, providing better health?care for more people and delivering on an aspiration of zero environmental impact by 2030. We see the SDGs as an opportunity to align our priorities with those that can support global development.?To achieve the 169 targets in the SDGs we aim to work through partnerships with both public and private?organisations across multiple goals. We particularly welcome the recognition of the importance of the?growing burden of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

See our position on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development


Lars Fruergaard J?rgensen at UN General Assembly, New York

“There is a growing acknowledgement of the importance of the private sector in working with institutions, governments and others to solve problems – and Novo Nordisk is ready to forge new partnerships.”

Lars Fruergaard J?rgensen, President and chief executive officer, Novo Nordisk


Our approach to the SDGs is three-fold and based on the three bearing principles of the SDGs:


  1. Universality - the SDGs apply to every nation … and every sector. Cities, businesses, schools, organisations, all are challenged to act
  2. Integration - the SDGs are all inter-connected, in a system. The World has not succeeded until of the SDGs have been achieved
  3. Transformation - achieving the SDGs involves making very big, fundamental changes in how we live on Earth.


1. Understanding where we make the most impact

We believe, that we first need to understand where we can maximise our positive impact and minimise our negative impact on the SDGs. We have therefore conducted a materiality assessment of all 169 targets towards the materiality of our operations and license to operate. We have used the SDG Self-Assessment Tool?developed by the Earth Security Group together with SAB Miller plc.

The conclusion of the assessment is that we will have the most impact on Goal 3 on Health and Goal 12 on Responsible Consumption and Production. You can read more on what we currently do to maximise our positive impact and minimise our negative impact on Goal 3 and Goal 12.

Sustainable Development Goal 3
Sustainable Development Goal 12

Recognising the principle of Integration and that the SDGs are inter-connected, we have been working on?identifying how some of our programmes are impacting more than one SDG on the basis of our?prioritisation of SDG 3 and 12.

On the interactive chart you can see how the programmes are impacting more than one SDG and you can?read more about the programmes. This work has been co-created together with students from?Washington?and Lee University. As we are on an explorative journey on how our programmes are impacting the?SDGs, we invite you to send us your thoughts and response to the chart, as we are keen on continuing?developing the piece You can send us a mail?here.


2. Partnering with others to do more

Secondly, we want to work in partnership with others on the interrelatedness of the SDGs, as we find this has the best potential for transformative solutions. A good example is our Cities Changing Diabetes partnership programme, where we also touch upon Goal 11, 13 and 17.

Cities Changing Diabetes works with more than 100 local partners to map and analyse root causes of urban diabetes and provide solutions to address systemic issues related to healthy living in cities. For example by collaborating with C40, the programme promotes actions in cities that provide both climate and health benefits.


Sustainable Development Goal 3
Sustainable Development Goal 11
Sustainable Development Goal 13
Sustainable Development Goal 17

3. Applying the SDGs to achieve greater impact going forward

In 2018, we have been investigating how we can apply the SDGs to achieve greater impact going forward. We are working together with the Future Fit Foundation to calculate how we contribute to the SDGs by both looking at Future-Fit Break-Even Goals and potential positive pursuits. By the end of 2018, we finalised the first ever calculation of the 23 Break-Even Goals and had the work assured. As our initial calculations showed, we do really well on some of the Break-Even Goals and not very impressive on others.

On a scale from 0 till 100, our scores on the Break-Even Goals fall as follows:

1. 10 have a score from ≥75 till 100

2. 6 have a score from ≥25 till ≤75

3. 7 have a score from 0 till ≤25

We expect to be sharing the details of the scores in 2019.


Future Fit logo


What does it take to achieve SDG target 3.4 in China?

As part of our work, we have worked to quantify the impact on clinical outcomes, cost savings for health care payers, and on how to achieve SDG target 3.4 in China. One of the results were that bringing people with type 2 diabetes to treatment targets reduced overall premature mortality to 43.1%. However, improving treatment alone was not sufficient to achieve SDG target 3.4 and diabetes prevention should form a key objective in China to improve outcomes. Read the paper here.


If you would like to know more

On an advocacy level, we have been part of a number of initiatives:

  • In 2018, we took part in developing the Guidance document “Integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into Corporate Reporting: A Practical Guide” together with the UN Global Compact and other partners.
  • We also joined the UNCTAD ISAR group, working on enhancing the role of enterprise reporting on attaining the Sustainable Development Goals. We have done an assessment of the developed Core Indicators for the SDGs, and our current reporting and what potentially could be reported going forward covers 81% of the Core Indicators.
  • We were invited to join the group of businesses who prepared the business section in the Report for the Voluntary National Review – Denmark’s Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development presented at the High-Level Political Forum in July 2017.?
  • We were co-authors on the report ‘Towards a sustainable economy’?by the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership, published in September 2017. One of the findings was that forward-looking companies can demonstrate the case for long-term value creation and play a significant role in ensuring economic development is consistent with the SDGs.
  • Together with the UN Global Compact and other partners, we took part in defining the Blueprint for Business Leadership on the SDGs. It aims to inspire all business — regardless of size, sector or geography — to take action in support of the achievement of the SDGs.?


1. The paper was presented at the ISPOR 20th Annual European Congress, 4–8 November 2017, in Glasgow, the United Kingdom.