According to World Health Organization, more than 150 world leaders gathered at United Nations Headquarters in New York to adopt an ambitious new sustainable development agenda at a 3-day summit that commenced Friday 25 September. Agreed by the 193 Member States of the UN, the new agenda “Transforming Our World: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, consists of a Declaration, 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted with a view to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. They follow on from the Millennium Development Goals, and articulate an agenda for the next 15 years (to 2030) which requires input from all sectors of society across the globe, including corporate actors who are key in the achievement of the targets.
As mentioned in The Guardian, some companies have already begun integrating the SDGs into their business model – and using them to find ways to expand their offerings. Pearson’s efforts with Syrian refugee children, for example, directly link the SDGs to the publisher’s research and development program. In addition to fulfilling SDG 4, which exhorts companies to ensure “inclusive and quality education for all”, Pearson’s efforts also link to SDG 16, which calls for the promotion of peace, justice and strong institutions.
Kerry Adler, CEO of SkyPower Global, suggests another way that the SDGs could be integrated into a company’s business model. SkyPower previously committed to build one gigawatt of solar electricity in Kenya over the next four years. As part of the SDGs, it committed to double that. The company is also getting involved in Kenya’s infrastructure development. As part of its SDG commitment, it agreed to donate 3,600 solar powered LED streetlights for a 3,000km highway that the Kenyan government is planning.
Other companies are doing SDG work in areas that are less directly related to their core business. For example, Tammy Medard, CEO of ANZ Bank (Lao) has decided to focus on SDG 5: gender equality. At the UN event, she pledged that, by 2017, 40% of her bank’s vendor panel will be women-run businesses.
Research by KPMG forecasts that 41% of businesses will embed SDGs into strategy and the way they do business, within five years.