Sustainable Development Goals – What are they and why are they important to businesses?
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were adopted in 2015 by 193 member nations to continue the momentum of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG). In 2000, the MDGs had been adopted by 189 member nations to achieve eight measurable goals that covered decreasing child mortality to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger to promoting gender equality. The target date for achievement was 2015.
Progress was made on the MDGs, but more needs to be done! For example, extreme poverty in the world has been cut in half. There are still many challenges (e.g., substandard education, unaffordable energy, air and water pollution) that must be addressed to create a sustainable world. The adoption of the SDGs provides opportunities for businesses to work on solving these challenges. The SDGs focus on building a sustainable world with an equal emphasis on environmental sustainability, social inclusion, and economic development.
This is a people-centered development framework with active engagement from civil society organizations, citizens, scientists, academics, and the private sector from around the global. In 2015, the SDGs were launched and adopted.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) define global sustainable development priorities and aspirations for 2030 and seek to mobilize global efforts around a common set of goals and targets. The SDGs call for worldwide action among governments, business and civil society to end poverty and create a life of dignity and opportunity for all, within the boundaries of the planet.
One of the most interesting things about the SDGs is the opportunity for business-led solutions. The SDGs can influence the way companies communicate and report their strategies, goals, and activities. There are many benefits to incorporating the SDGs. Here are a few.
- Create new products or processes
- Enhance the value of corporate sustainability
- Strengthen the economic incentives for companies to use resources more efficiently
- Strengthen stakeholder relations
- Stabilize societies and markets
- Use a common language and shared purpose
Here are the 17 SDGs.
Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertication, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
If this brief introduction intrigues you, read my next series of blog posts. In the series, I will showcase each SDG and an example of how a company is already incorporating it in their business. Two of the companies are Unilever and Novo Nordisk AS.