The Guiding Principles for Local Business

You’ve probably heard of the triple bottom line, an accounting framework with three parts: social, environmental, and financial … it is sometimes referred to as the 3 P’s people, planet, profit. Many organisations adopted the triple bottom line framework to evaluate their performance in a broader perspective, as opposed to just financial reporting, to create greater business value.

It is now over 25 years since John Elkington first conceived the idea of the 3 P’s and we are now seeing an evolution with local businesses taking it a step further and using the 5 P’s inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals … People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnerships.


It is absolutely fundamental to successful local businesses to focus on the positive and negative impact your organisation has on its most important stakeholders. These include employees, families, customers, suppliers, and of course local communities.


The SDGs set a goal to protect the planet “so it can support the needs of the present and future generations.” Nearly every day we are seeing just how connected – and fundamental – climate change is to not just global development but also local development.

Shopping locally is not only good for communities it is great for our planet, but it is also important as local business owners we do all we can to run a business that cares about sustainability.


The term “prosperity” actually reflects very closely what Elkington originally had in mind when he first coined the original 3 P’s. It is through economic impacts such as innovation, creation of employment and paying taxes that prosperity is achieved. Of course, some profit is needed to keep local businesses alive but prosperity more accurately reflects that local businesses have a greater purpose than just generating profit.


There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development and this begins with people's actions at local level. Local businesses can lead great examples of helping to create more equal and inclusive communities but also it is imperative that businesses big and small have ethical supply chains.


We’re seeing a variety of players step up for the SDGs, from youth activists striking for climate action to cities embracing sustainable living conditions to corporations embedding sustainability into their core plans and local businesses can be a fundamental part of grassroots movements like these. Local businesses working together is also great news for local communities.

There was a reason all countries around the world came together to create the SDGs: to create a plan of action for people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnerships. The challenges facing the world are complex and therefore require complex solutions.

I believe that local businesses around the world have the opportunity to align our efforts as we are now in the “decade of delivery” to achieve the SDG’s goals by 2030.

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