Insights | 5 MIN READ

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Ensuring that No One is Left Behind

And How Businesses Are The Ones that Make It Happen.

“On 1 January 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at a historic UN Summit — officially came into force.  Over the next fifteen years, with these new Goals that universally apply to all, countries will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.”

There’s something about a new year that gets us in a frame of mind for new beginnings.

When January rolls around each year, it’s a well-worn tradition for people to use it to make a fresh start. New Year’s resolutions are a kind of psychological “kick in the pants” – a set of goals to improve our lives, health, and relationships. We try to eat healthier, exercise more, shed bad habits, be kinder to our loved ones, and even give more to others in need.

Just like individuals knowing what they need to do to improve their lives, it’s no mystery what the world needs in order to be a safe and healthy place for all its inhabitants.

Hunger, disease, poverty, inequality, and climate change are real problems that affect millions of people every day. Left unchecked, they impact every single one of us.

Yet, as easy as these issues are to identify, actually solving them is not so easy. It requires a global effort, cooperation, and an understanding that everyone can play a part in moving us forward. Previous global campaigns have typically concentrated on governmental action. But in 2015, by creating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations for the first time recognized the important role of businesses in creating change.

The 17 SDGs (sometimes called ‘The Global Goals’) are a collection of independent but interconnected goals carefully designed to give all of us on our planet a better future, with hundreds of targets and measurement indicators geared toward a date of 2030. The goals were created with businesses in mind, providing a path – what some people refer to as a “Pathway for Humanity” — for any business to harness their power by directing their efforts toward specific global objectives.

 
The goals themselves were defined to be simple and direct, but powerful, ranging from ending poverty to building sustainable cities. Any individual can find something on the diverse list of Sustainable Development Goals to work toward. Small and medium-sized businesses, however, are uniquely positioned to make significant impacts on the SDG targets.

The power of small… businesses

Businesses are unique institutions that connect industries and communities in dynamic ways. Smaller businesses are more agile and flexible than governments and large corporations. They’re closer to the “ground”, often reflecting the values of their communities while generating both revenue and opportunities that can be used for good.
 
This interplay between business and society is so substantial that the SDGs were created with businesses in mind. According to a 2018 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), small and medium-sized businesses are collectively responsible for the vast majority of the world’s private economic activity. When businesses align their passions and aspirations with those of their employees, their customers, their partners, and their communities, there’s little they can’t accomplish. And that’s why businesses play such a crucial part in achieving the SDGs.

“There’s an SDG for that.”

With a cursory look at the 17 goals, the sheer number and scope of the SDGs can seem more than a little daunting. The power of the SDGs though, is that nobody has to tackle all these goals alone. It’s a collective effort that each and every one of us can be a part of. Start by choosing one or a few goals that resonate with you or your business, then partner with an organization that could help you easily contribute to solving problems related to those goals.
 
You could even do something like what many of our B1G1 members are doing – linking each business activity with a Sustainable Development Goal that reflects their own values. Concerned about the availability of clean water in developing countries (SDG 6)? Give a day of clean water for every sale you make. Frustrated by the lack of opportunities for women (SDG 4)? Give a day of education to a young girl for every dollar you save a client. There are endless opportunities to make real impacts on the lives of real people, and the more successful a business is, the bigger its impact on a goal.

Each team members from Basic Bookkeepers (Australia) choose one SDG that resonates with them and connect their own KPI with the goal. So everytime they complete a project, they can give and contribute towards the goal of their choice.

Ethical Hour – a marketing and branding firm in Australia set their own target based on the Sustainable Development Goals. Not only that, they aim to help their clients do the same to.

“One day” is today

In a competitive world where many businesses struggle to survive, there seems to be little capital or effort to spare for anything other than the operations of the business itself. This makes it easy for even the most generous of entrepreneurs to say that “one day”, perhaps when their enterprise has grown, they can start using their success to do good in the world.
 
But businesses need to learn quickly that they don’t have to wait. From adopting simple changes in their day-to-day operations to giving back small amounts to a high-impact charity that aligns with one of the goals, every business, big or small can start right now. Check out 11 ways businesses can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals here.

 

 
Businesses regardless of their size have the power to forge change – to harness the power of innovation and entrepreneurship, involving their employees, clients, partners, and communities, to help us strive towards the goals.
 
As we move forward, we can all continue in our resolutions for the new millennium – ensuring that no one is left behind in a safer, happier future.
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About R. Vincent

R. Vincent enjoys reading about the dedicated people and innovative businesses of B1G1 as much as he enjoys writing about their inspiring work. As a freelance writer and online educator, he is happy to use his talents to bring attention to the wonderful work done by organisations and businesses around the world.