You can start your sustainability journey by taking little steps today that will evolve your enterprise’s culture long term. It is time to redefine business as usual and unlock potential in communities and employees while being responsible for the planet. A socially and environmentally responsible business will lead the transition to a new, more just-economy.

Are you ready to be part of it?

Follow the below steps and make your business contributing to a fairer world
how long it takes

3 hours (min)

how many people

3 - 12 (you can organize in groups)

what will you need

1. Map your impact

Step 1

  • Print the 4D Canvas on paper or draw on a board (preferably)
  • Get your team together 
  • Start with your Value Chain – sketch up a high-level flow diagram of main activities, inbound and outbound materials or services offered. List the main stakeholders that are impacted and involved in the process directly or indirectly.  In case of a service oriented company, activities and stakeholders can be listed with  bullet points

Step 2

  • Populate the 4 quadrants of the Canvas: Community, Employees, Governance and Planet.
  • Answer the guiding questions. This will prompt a discussion among the team members. For example under Community if the answer to the question “Does you company consider local suppliers in its value chain?” is a No, you may highlight it as an area where the company could take action. You can take a break if the discussion runs beyond 60min.

TIP: use different colours for negative and positive impacts, it will help with the overall picture in the end

Tip: How to pick your goals and actions for your Targets Template? You can use a materiality matrix with impact and feasibility (or effort) on the 2 axes, and choose those actions that scored the best in both categories: big impact with little effort.


The team will gain an overall understanding of the negative and positive impacts of their company’s activity.

Understand what sustainability encompasses; after all it is a complex topic.

2. Link your organization to the UN 2030 Agenda

Step 1

  • Present the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) to the team
  • The 17 Goals established and ratified by the UN members is a call for action to all businesses to end poverty and create a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable economy.

Step 2

  • Download the 17 cards and get inspired by some practical actions your company can take to unlock competitive advantage. The targets and practical examples are based on a guide developed by GRI and UNDP “An Analysis of the Goals and Targets”*. The original inventory offers possible actions at the level of 17 SDG goals and 169 targets. We just cherry picked a few examples under each goal so you could make the connection between SDG’s and the 4D Canvas areas.
  • Present the cards and let people read and discuss them. You can also present other content on this subject, like the SDG compass and the UN website itself.


The team will learn about the UN SDG’s and have ideas on how businesses can contribute to achieving them.

Contact us if you would like to order customized cards based on your company’s industry and profile.

3. Define your sustainability targets

Step 1

And now let the actions speak for the change.

  • Go back to your completed Canvas and pick one negatively and one positively impacted area under Community, Employees, Governance and Planet sections
  • Come up with practical measures the organization can take to mitigate or bring them to the next level, respectively. The actions should be feasible and easy to implement.
  • Fill the Targets Template with the objectives in the areas identified before.  Every objective should be reported on a regular basis, assigned to an owner and reveal a competitive advantage to your company. For example by involving local communities in the supply chain you may have access to new customer groups, and by creating value the company will attract more talents and conscious customers, as supported by a number of studies*.
  • Print the template and hang it to place be visible to the organization. As the pdf file is editable, you can also keep it online, in a shared folder. We encourage you to do the latter.
TIP: Use project agement tools such as Trello, Asana or Monday to follow the progress.
* Millenials at work PWC Report To Affinity and Beyond- From Me to We, the rise of the purpose-led brand – Accenture, 2018


The team will define practical and measurable actions with deadlines, owners and indicators, thus taking the company on the path of sustainability with little extra resource required.

TIP: You may reward the team in the achievement of the goals as part of their compensation package.

If you have questions about how to facilitate this process, please contact us.

After going through all the steps you will have set on the path of sustainability. If necessary, do not hesitate to seek help in our community where you can find professionals and organizations with knowledge and experience to help you move forward.

The 4D Sustainability Canvas and Framework is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.