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United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: A “Good Business” Opportunity

Updated: Jul 24, 2019

Due to the mixed success of the United Nations Millennium Development goals, the UN ratified 17 Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015. Under the motto of “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, this new plan set out to make up for the shortcomings of previous efforts by building effective accountable controls that would make the SDGs more easy to monitor.

Other than serving the purpose to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, these goals provide an opportunity for businesses to drive growth and productivity, while also contributing to a better world.

There are 169 targets for the 17 goals, along with 232 approved indicators to help measure compliance. The following list contains all the of the UN Sustainable Development Goals with a short description of what each is ultimately trying to accomplish by 2030, serving as an introduction to sustainable development goals.

Goal 1: No Poverty - “End poverty in all its forms everywhere”

Goal 2: Zero Hunger - "End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture"

Goal 3: Good health and well-being for people - “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”

Goal 4: Quality education - “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

Goal 5: Gender equality - “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.”

Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation - “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”

Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy - “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.”

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth - “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.”

Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure - “Build a resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation.”

Goal 10: Reducing inequalities - “Reduce income inequality within and among countries.”

Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities - “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.”

Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production - “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.”

Goal 13: Climate action - “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts by regulating emissions and promoting developments in renewable energy.”

Goal 14: Life below water - “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.”

Goal 15: Life on land - “Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.”

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions - “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: Partnerships for the goals - “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.”

As you can see from the list of sustainable development goals, the focus of the UN’s mission is spread over a wide variety of areas. The fact that over 190 countries have pledged to do their part in achieving the 17 goals has created a tremendous opportunity for businesses. The investment in sustainable technologies and projects that work towards accomplishing any of the SDGs is expected to rise dramatically in the coming years.

A business statement, published at the SDG Business Forum 2017, highlighted the opportunities within these goals, saying “The SDGs provide all businesses with a new lens through which to translate the world’s needs and ambitions into business solutions. These solutions will enable companies to better manage their risks, anticipate consumer demand, build positions in growth markets, secure access to needed resources, and strengthen their supply chains, while moving the world towards a sustainable and inclusive development path.”

A first step could be undertaking a comprehensive assessment, in order to understand the risks and the impact the business currently has on each of the SDGs. If that is carried out, it can help identify gaps and opportunities, making it easier to align the strategies with the goals, to maximize positive difference and minimize negative impact.

Allmende supports the United Nations in their efforts to rally the private sector under the banner of the SDGs. These 17 Goals - vital for the future of our planet and society - provide the North Star for Allmende’s strategies and initiatives. We’re devoted to helping current and future businesses in finding ways that they can adapt their business structures and practices to work towards accomplishing the SDGs.

Socio-economic business transformations need to serve the purpose of working toward business models that can work for everyone, not only for a privileged few. At Allmende we empower the business leaders of today and tomorrow to consider the SDGs and leverage it for driving growth and prosperity for all.

The principles of sustainable development goals should act as the blueprint for a high level, long-term business plan for any new business. Regardless of the industry, focusing your business model to address the issues and problems that the SDGs are attempting to solve is a solid strategy for long-term profitability, innovation, reputation management and risk reduction. And even if all of the SDGs are achieved by 2030, there will still be the need to maintain or improve going forward, connecting social and environmental priorities with business opportunities.

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