“The 17 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.”
Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all
Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and, by 2030, significantly raise industry’s share of employment and gross domestic product, in line with national circumstances, and double its share in least developed countries
Increase the access of small-scale industrial and other enterprises, in particular in developing countries, to financial services, including affordable credit, and their integration into value chains and markets
By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities
Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending
Facilitate sustainable and resilient infrastructure development in developing countries through enhanced financial, technological and technical support to African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States 18
Support domestic technology development, research and innovation in developing countries, including by ensuring a conducive policy environment for, inter alia, industrial diversification and value addition to commodities
Significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020
Two companies that report on SDG 9 in their sustainability reports are Praxair and Volvo Group.
Praxair Inc., an American Fortune 300 company, produces industrial gases. In 2016, its sales totaled $10.5 million with close to 26,500 employees. It has over 1 million customers in over 50 countries.
In support of SDG 9, Praxair produces gases that are used for drinking water, wastewater, process water, and food processing.
Volvo Group, a Swedish multinational company, is one of the leading manufacturers of trucks, buses, construction equipment and marine and industrial engines. The company reports that it addresses SDG 9 by producing the largest bus chassis for a bus that can carry 300 passengers.
Volvo Group meets one of the SDG 9 targets by providing vocational training in African countries.
Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
2.1 By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round
2.2 By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons
2.3 By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment
2.4 By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality
2.5 By 2020, maintain the genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and their related wild species, including through soundly managed and diversified seed and plant banks at the national, regional and international levels, and promote access to and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, as internationally agreed
2.a Increase investment, including through enhanced international cooperation, in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension services, technology development and plant and livestock gene banks in order to enhance agricultural productive capacity in developing countries, in particular least developed countries
2.b Correct and prevent trade restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets, including through the parallel elimination of all forms of agricultural export subsidies and all export measures with equivalent effect, in accordance with the mandate of the Doha Development Round
2.c Adopt measures to ensure the proper functioning of food commodity markets and their derivatives and facilitate timely access to market information, including on food reserves, in order to help limit extreme food price volatility
Individual companies cannot solve world hunger alone, but the examples provided below illustrate how two companies are contributing to achieving SDG Goal 2. Every organization should examine their operational mission and strategy to find ways to contribute to achieving SDG Goals.
“Our ambition is for sustainable approaches to agriculture to become mainstream and to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. This supports SDG 2 ‘End Hunger’.
Smallholder farmers and family farms produce 70% of the world’s food. Working with these producers is critical for Unilever as we strive to reach our sustainable sourcing targets and improve the livelihoods of those in our supply chain and surrounding communities. Working in global partnerships, we have identified a number of crops and countries that require targeted, integrated action to improve sustainable agricultural practices, link smallholders to our markets, address food nutrition gaps, improve business skills and provide finance.
In support of this approach, we formed a number of new partnerships. In 2015, Unilever, Acumen and the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP) launched the Enhanced Livelihoods Investment Initiative to improve the livelihoods of as many as 300,000 smallholder communities across Africa, South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. It is a three-year US$10 million investment plan to spur economic growth by backing private enterprises, which link smallholders to Unilever’s global supply chain and distribution networks.
In 2015, Unilever and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) created a Nutrition Intervention Program, which aims to improve the health and nutrition of 2.5 million rural people. Its aim is to reach smallholder farmers, from helping them to diversify their diets to providing better information on nutrition.
Addressing hunger is also about reducing food waste. A third of food calories produced are never eaten. To combat this, Unilever helped shape the Consumer Goods Forum pledge, working alongside the World Resources Institute, to halve food waste by 2025 within member company operations, and reduce food waste among consumers and through the supply chain. To help achieve this, we have a new partnership with the Global Foodbank Network allowing us to redirect food that is still fit to be consumed. Also, Unilever is supporting the ‘Champions 12.3’ coalition that seeks to tackle food loss and waste. Our CEO, Paul Polman, is a champion along with other business leaders and representatives from civil society and government.”
“Since 2015, Ball Corporation has partnered with IMPACT 2030, a business-led effort with the goal to enhance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through corporate employee volunteerism. Three of the 17 SDGs (zero hunger, quality education, responsible consumption and production) are directly tied to Ball’s key focus areas and Ball employee volunteering programs.”
Goal 2 is addressed by Ball Corporation as follows.
“Food security is a key focus area for Ball’s community engagement efforts because it is closely tied to our North American food can business. In 2014, one in seven Americans lived in food-insecure households, including 32.8 million adults and 15.3 million children. Because the nutritional value is sealed inside, canned food provides safe, nutritious meals to those who need it. Canned foods also help minimize food waste and are easy to prepare.
Ball and its employees are committed to helping ensure that everyone in their communities has access to nutritious food. In 2015, Ball’s annual “Let’s Can Hunger” food drive expanded across all North American locations. Events in the U.S., Canada and Mexico were held to unite employees and collect donations. In two weeks, employees donated more than 170,000 pounds of canned food and raised more than $215,000 in monetary contributions, which provided approximately 700,000 meals to individuals in 37 communities where Ball operates.
The food collected, combined with employee donations and the money unlocked through Ball’s matching gifts program, helped nonprofit organizations provide and improve local access to sufficient food resources for individuals and families in need. During the reporting period, Ball employees also volunteered more than 1,200 hours alone in food- and nutrition-related causes serving nonprofit organizations.”
My next blog post will discuss SDG Goal 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
1.1 By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day
1.2 By 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions
1.3 Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the
1.4 By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance
1.5 By 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters
1.a Ensure significant mobilization of resources from a variety of sources, including through enhanced development cooperation, in order to provide adequate and predictable means for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, to implement programmes and policies to end poverty in all its dimensions
1.b Create sound policy frameworks at the national, regional and international levels, based on pro-poor and gender-sensitive development strategies, to support
accelerated investment in poverty eradication actions
These targets are ambitious, and businesses have an important role to play in achieving them! Many businesses are already doing so, and there are many examples.
So your next questions are why and how would my business get involved?
…we must invest in people – in education, skills development, health care. This will help equip people for decent jobs and incomes. It will boost purchasing power. The virtuous cycle between human capital, jobs and income is central to building healthy local markets and a healthy world economy. It is good for people and good for business.
Evaluating your entire value chain (i.e., the full lifecycle of your products and services) can help identify areas that can reduce your negative impacts and improve your business simultaneously. Your business decisions about things such as employee wages, working conditions, product pricing, or raw material sources have impacts on people in poverty.
You can measure your direct impacts on the local economy. What proportion of your spending is on local suppliers at significant locations of operations? To illustrate how UPS affects the local economy, here is an excerpt from its 2015 sustainability report.
In 2015, UPS spent approximately US$943 million in procurement with small and diverse businesses in the United States.
A third-party study on the economic impact of our spending with small businesses, as well as minority-, women-, veteran-owned, and other diverse suppliers in 2015, found that UPS contributed more than US$2.3 billion to the U.S. economy (U.S. GDP) and sustained more than 14,200 jobs in the supply chain and local communities. A breakdown of that US$2.3 billion includes US$941 million in direct economic benefit from suppliers’ operations and activities; US$639 million in indirect impact from the economic benefit and employment supported in the suppliers’ respective supply chains from procuring goods and services; and US$743 million in community impact from the wider economic benefits that arise when the suppliers’ employees and those in their supply chains spend their earnings. Overall, for every million dollars that UPS spends with small and diverse suppliers, 15 jobs are created with those companies in their local communities.
If supply chains are a significant part of your business, evaluating them not only on economic criteria but also on social criteria can be an effective risk management tool. Do you have policies to screen for suppliers that adhere to international and your company-specific human rights and labor standards? You can have a positive influence by demanding adherence to these standards. This is a proactive approach that is much less costly than a reactive one.
How you are investing in the economic well being of your employees has a direct economic impact on poverty alleviation. Lower incomes reduce access to adequate housing, quality education, social networks, and social status among others. Evaluating the wages paid along with how they compare to the minimum wages in the local area puts a focus on a company’s economic impact on workers. For example, Abengoa, a Spanish company that applies technological solutions in the energy and environment sectors, disclosed in its 2015 sustainability report the percentage paid to its workers above the local minimum wage.
How does your company change the productivity of organizations, sectors, or the whole economy?
Is your company involved in economic development in areas of high poverty?
Does your company’s economic impact in a particular location improve or deteriorate social or environmental conditions?
What is the availability of your products and services for those on low incomes?
What should you do with your answers to these questions and your evaluation of your business? You can incorporate these issues into your business strategy. You can set targets for improvement. You can publish a sustainability report to measure your progress.
Baxter International is an example of a company that has set targets and reported them its sustainability reports. In its 2015 report, Baxter pledged to increase it spending with diverse suppliers by 50%, from 4% of relevant spending in 2015 to 6% in 2020. These published targets are public commitments that reveal the company’s sustainability strategy and implementation plans.
To be a part of the solution to end poverty, your business can be involved; it can measure its impacts, set targets, and report its progress in a sustainability report.
The next blog will examine how your business can help achieve SDG Goal 2 Zero Hunger.