Private Sector BusinessesThe U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to be met by 2030, are 17 goals aimed at increasing environmental and socially sustainable solutions to poverty, inequality and injustice, among other things. The goals are both ambitious and achievable but funding gaps hamper the progress of these goals. Through conscious investments toward SDGs, private sector businesses could close this gap. The U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres calls on business leaders to use their positions of power, finance and influence to help meet the SDGs, to the benefit of the entire globe.

The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, the U.N. created 17 Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030. The overarching aim of the SDGs is, “peace and prosperity for people and the planet.”

The goals principally involve less discrimination worldwide, eliminating poverty, giving more individuals more economic and educational success, increased justice, prioritizing the environment, improving global health and more.

The SDGs are meant for everyone to tackle, from the average person to national governments and major corporations such as private sector businesses.

The Need for SDG Funding

Reaching all 17 SDGs by 2030 will cost between $5-7 trillion per year, according to the United Nations. Although in 2016, development assistance funds hit a high of $142.6 billion, there is still a need for a much greater infusion of funds and a significant need for the support of private sector businesses.

The lack of available funds from the public sector, specifically, is the main reason why there has not been more progress toward the SDGs. Public sector sources of funding are predominantly national governments and government organizations.

Referencing this lack of funding, Guterres lamented the lack of progress made toward the SDGs and urged business leaders in the private sector to step up. “We need business leaders to use their enormous influence to push for inclusive growth and opportunities,” states Guterres. “No one business can afford to ignore this effort and there is no global goal that cannot benefit from private sector investment.”

Businesses Leading Change Through SDGs

Because there is an apparent need for more corporations to invest in SDGs, it is important to recognize those businesses fighting poverty through a commitment to achieving the SDGs.

The U.N. and 30 leaders of multinational companies created the Global Investors for Sustainable Development Alliance in September 2019. They immediately began supporting initiatives for clean energy in Latin America, Africa and Asia, among other goals.

The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative drafted the Principles for Responsible Banking to serve as guidelines for banks to commit themselves to the SDGs. Worldwide, more than 200 banks have committed to these principles. This figure represents more than one-third of the global banking industry. The signatory banks must report on their achievements, goals and growth regarding the principles. They must also accomplish all principle requirements within a set timeline. This ensures tangible strides toward actualizing the SDGs.

The company, PepsiCo, is also making good strides with the SDGs. It is committed to multiple projects in agreement with specific SDGs. The company established a “Green Bond” worth $1 billion in 2019 to do so.

A notable project is the company’s aspiration to restore 100% of the water it uses for manufacturing to areas that are “high water risk.” It aims to do this by water reuse and recycling initiatives, supplying smallholder farmworkers with “water-saving technologies” and sustainable agricultural techniques. PepsiCo cites SDG 6, “Clean Water and Sanitation,” SDG 15, “Life on Land” and SDG 12, “Responsible Consumption and Production,” as aligning with this particular objective.

The Contribution of Foundations

Private sector businesses fighting poverty go beyond business transactions and profitable decisions. Many companies commit to progressing the SDGs by supporting foundations. Top contributing foundations include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund and Gothic Corporation. Total global funding for the SDGs from foundations is upwards of $216 billion.

All these examples of private sector businesses committing to the SDGs prove it is a worthwhile endeavor that needs support on a broad scale. In the words of Guterres, “Corporate leadership can make all the difference to creating a future of peace, stability and prosperity on a healthy planet.”

Claire Kirchner
Photo: Flickr

RSPORoundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and similar organizations are trying to change the palm oil industry. Palm oil is edible vegetable oil. It is widely used in many commercial food products. From chocolate to butter, it reaches the top of the ingredient list in almost 50% of packaged food labels globally. When considering its mass production and wide range of use, it is easy to see the importance of the movement calling for action and reform. RSPO raises this question: what is so bad about it?

RSPO’s Initiative

The palm oil industry is large in size. As a result, it does not have many regulations. The side effects that come with this are significant. They include improper and unethical farming, unequal pay for workers and unsafe working conditions. The most predominant consequence is deforestation.

By recognizing these malpractices and their impact on the employees and environment, RSPO sought a new and progressive technique. After being formally established in April 2004, the RSPO introduced its Principles and Criteria (P&C) for the production of sustainable palm oil. To account for unique national laws and the complexity of the palm oil supply chain, the P&C undergoes revision every five years and varies internationally. However, the fundamental elements remain the same.

Additionally, the P&C prioritizes deforestation prevention. This means that companies are unable to clear or cultivate in substantially forested areas containing valuable biodiversity or fragile ecosystems. In addition, the requirements also highlight the fair treatment of workers, abiding with international labor rights standards. They also decreased the use of harmful pesticides and chemicals. If these main guidelines, along with the others stated on the P&C, are successfully implemented and reviewed, palm oil producers are certified by the RSPO.

RSPO’s Theory of Change

By providing specific guidelines to guarantee sustainability certification, RSPO is mobilizing its main vision: to make sustainable palm oil the norm. Its Theory of Change protocol outlines the procedures in place to attain this goal. The roadmap analyzes the effectiveness of its outputs on three main areas: prosperity, the planet and the people.

Furthermore, one main effort which benefits the people is an increase in smallholder participation and overall mobilization of growers. This in turn leads to improved risk management and safer work practices. These smallholders are small-scale farmers with low hectarage and family-run labor. RSPO certification of smallholders improves their management practices, quality of fruit and yield and access to markets.

Progress Made in Mexico

Overall, the long-term progression on the Theory of Change roadmap suggests that farmers will experience more sustainable and financially stable lifestyles. This past year, Oleopalma became the first RSPO-certified company in Mexico. Since small-scale farmers account for 90% of Mexico’s palm oil farmers, this achievement will reflect widely in the prosperity of the people. After Columbia, Mexico is the largest consumer of palm oil in Latin America. This reaffirms the key benefits coming forward from this transformation. It is also the largest sourcing market for PepsiCo’s palm oil supply. This correlation suggests not only a drastic improvement in the lives of workers but eventually the environment and economy as well.

Samantha Acevedo-Hernandez
Photo: Flickr

Billions of people around the globe lack consistent access to a safe water supply. Currently, over 40% of the world population struggles with water scarcity, and experts predict the situation will only worsen due to population growth and climate issues.  Water scarcity not only impacts a community’s sanitation and health, but also its economy and the education of its people.  Recognizing the gravity of this global issue, organizations like the PepsiCo Foundation have committed themselves to improving the situation.

The PepsiCo Foundation was created in 1962 as the philanthropic branch of PepsiCo. The foundation partners with various nonprofits to invest “in the essential elements of a sustainable food system” in vulnerable regions.  One of the company’s biggest priorities has been addressing water scarcity.  In 2006, the PepsiCo Foundation announced its mission to provide clean water access to 25 million people by 2025.  Already exceeding this goal, the organization is now hoping to extend its efforts to aid 100 million people by 2030.


One of the main ways the PepsiCo Foundation improves global access to water is through financial aid to organizations that do the groundwork in the areas most affected by water scarcity.  Since 2008, the PepsiCo Foundation has given roughly $34 million in grant aid to clean water access programs around the world.  Grant recipients include, the Safe Water Network, and the Inter-American Development Bank’s AquaFund. PepsiCo’s most notable partnership has been with WaterAid, an international nonprofit that has worked to bring clean water to 25.8 million people since 1981. In 2018, PepsiCo gave $4.2 million to WaterAid.

WaterAid welcomed the partnership saying, “[s]trong public-private partnerships drive scalable and lasting impact, and we are proud to work with PepsiCo to bring clean water to hundreds of thousands of people in need.”

With this grant, WaterAid predicted the PepsiCo Foundation would help to bring clean water access to more than 200,000. Since then, PepsiCo has continued its partnership with WaterAid as the organization pursues projects in Southern India.

Impact in India

India is one of 16 countries that are considered to have extremely high water risk.  Of these countries, India has the highest population. The PepsiCo Foundation and WaterAid have concentrated the clean water initiatives in India to the rural villages that are plagued by water shortages, hoping to make the greatest impact possible.  In 2019 the organizations worked in three towns—Palakkad, Nelamangala and Sri City—to improve water storage and access.

Since 2016, Palakkad has experienced extreme water shortages, impacting the economy and health of the region.  By August 2019, PepsiCo and WaterAid successfully brought clean water access to the village by building a clean water storage tank.  The partnership also brought 24-hour water access to many families by installing water tap systems into 32 homes.  Similarly, the organizations were able to build 21 tap stands in Sri City.

The PepsiCo Foundation and WaterAid were able to make a tremendous impact in Nelamangala, India, by bringing water to households and schools.  In addition to installing water storing tanks and tap systems, PepsiCo and WaterAid built rainwater collection systems on several rooftops in the village.  This project brought clean water to 49 families in the Nelamangala. PepsiCo and WaterAid also made clean water supply systems in 18 schools, bringing easy water access to over 5,000 students in the region.

Continued Commitment to Clean Water Access

Through the company’s many projects and grants, PepsiCo has made it clear that the company regards clean water access as one of the most urgent issues the world faces today.  The organization’s renewed goal is to provide 100 million people with clean water supply by 2030. With this goal, it looks like the PepsiCo Foundation will remain committed to improving water access around the world for years to come.

– Mary Kate Langan
Photo: Flickr

Global Water CrisisWater is a fundamental resource for the sustainment of human life. The accessibility of clean water throughout many underdeveloped countries is rapidly becoming a detrimental humanitarian problem, a direct result of exponential population growth. And with such swift consumption, usable water sources are quickly drying up and diminishing. Over the past couple of years, daily conservation of water has become a global plea to help preserve water sources for future generations. This may seem like a bleak issue, but there is hope. Many corporations and nonprofit organizations around the world are invested in ending to the global water crisis. Here are eight companies working to end the global water crisis.

8 Companies Invested in Putting an End to the Global Water Crisis

  1. charity: water – Founded in 2006, this nonprofit organization is working to end the global water crisis by providing clean drinking water to citizens in 24 developing countries. charity: water focuses on three methodologies for providing clean water to communities in need: hand-dug wells, drilled wells and rainwater catch equipment that collects the water and sanitizes it. In addition, by collaborating with a number of local partners, the organization has funded more than 24,000 successful water projects as of 2018. Instead of just accepting donations, charity: water inspires people to start their own campaigns to raise money for clean water. Overall, the organization’s efforts have benefitted approximately 8.2 million people and counting.
  2. Global Water Challenge – The Global Water Challenge, also known as the GWC, is part of a leading team of organizations heavily invested in bringing clean water, for both consumption and hygiene purposes (WASH Sustainability Program), to each corner of the globe. While the GWC’s programs benefit entire communities, women’s empowerment is an important area of focus. After all, women are typically responsible for spending a huge portion of their days gathering water to sustain their families. Thanks to its public-private partnerships, the organization has reached more than 1 million individuals to date.
  3. – The organization’s WaterCredit Initiative works with local businesses to provide loans to people who lack adequate water and sanitation resources. The organization mainly works with people through financing safe access to water in efforts to diminish the global water crisis, more sustainable methods and have effectively enabled more than 25 million people to obtain access to clean water and sanitation services.
  4. Drop in the Bucket – Similar to the previous organization, Drop in the Bucket also operates on a community loan basis to fund wells.  The organization has built 300 wells in schools in East Africa since its founding in 2006, recognizing this area as one in need when seeking to address the global water crisis.
  5. PepsiCo – Through partnerships with NGOs such as WaterAid and 2030 Water Resources Group of the World Bank, Pepsi has made it a priority to invest in ending the global water crisis. The company is focused on helping developing communities in the United States, Latin America, India and China by offering strategic grants that teach various methods for effectively conserving water. As of the middle of 2018, the company has donated $40 million to these organizations.
  6. The Nature Conservancy – One of the biggest charitable environmental organizations in North America, the Nature Conservancy concentrates its efforts on the preservation of land and water sources. The organization works in three continents — specifically focusing on Europe, as well as in Latin America and India. With more than one million members actively working to conserve natural landscapes through science and technological means, this group instills hope for future generations.
  7. UN Water – An arm of the United Nations, this agency works in more than 30 countries to provide clean water and sanitary techniques to assist the underprivileged. UN Water uses a data-driven approach to effect change in the countries where it operates.
  8. World Resources Institute – The World Resources Institute (WRI) is focused on the “mapping, measuring and mitigating global water challenges.” One of the organization’s current projects utilizes aqueduct systems as a method for preserving and sustaining water sources. The group is also working to rehabilitate ecosystems, to lessen the burden on diminishing water sources. The WRI is active in more than 50 countries and has global offices in Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States.

– Joanna Buoniconti
Photo: Flickr

Treatments for TuberculosisTuberculosis is the leading infectious cause of death worldwide. However, the full extent of childhood tuberculosis is poorly understood. According to 2015 World Health Organization estimates, TB infected more than one million children and killed more than 200,000. Given the difficulty of diagnosis in children, the true burden of this disease is likely even greater than reported.

Tuberculosis most commonly affects the lungs and is spread by infected airborne particles, released by patients with the active disease. Because transmission is augmented in overcrowded, poorly ventilated areas, people living in poverty are disproportionately affected. More than 95 percent of TB-related deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.

Active tuberculosis is often asymptomatic or causes vague symptoms such as general malaise, anorexia, and weight loss. A cough is the most common symptom and often becomes progressively productive. Diagnosis is based on the results of sputum samples.

Treatment regimens consist of multiple medications taken for extended periods of time. To ensure adequate therapy, patients must take a certain number of doses. If too many doses are missed, treatment must be restarted. Problems with patient non-adherence have led to the rise of directly-observed therapy (DOT) in which a public health worker witnesses the patient’s medication consumption.

In addition to the extensiveness of the drug regimen, the bitter taste of the medications can be a significant barrier to adherence, especially for children. TB Alliance has already helped to develop liquid formulations for first-line antituberculosis drugs, but with the rise of drug-resistance, alternative therapies must also be made more kid-friendly. PepsiCo has stepped up to partner with TB Alliance in developing tastier treatments for tuberculosis.

As a highly successful beverage company, heavily invested in research and development, PepsiCo is a logical collaborator in this endeavor to develop tastier treatments for tuberculosis. Since 2011, PepsiCo has increased investment in research and development by 35 percent. The emphasis on innovation has undoubtedly contributed to the company’s success. In addition, as a global brand, PepsiCo garners insights from countries most heavily affected by tuberculosis. The company has R&D facilities in India and China, two of the six countries that account for more than 60 percent of tuberculosis cases.

Rebecca Yu

Photo: Flickr

Silicon Valley Community FoundationIn December 2015, Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) awarded $50 million in matching grants to support 24,450 nonprofit organizations in the United States and 45 other countries, according to CSRwire.

This is the largest total to date, beating out last year’s total of $23 million in matching grants. SVCF gives matching grants through its partnership with YourCause, which is the leading Software as a Service provider of employee engagement resolutions.

YourCause provides companies with a variety of employee engagement techniques including volunteering and charitable giving.

Maeve Miccio, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility for SVCF, said, “SVCF is proud to say that we sent more than $50 million in matching grants to nonprofit organizations around the world in 2015. We applaud our corporate clients and their employees who have made philanthropy a priority through employee engagement programs in their workplaces. Their gifts support everything from education to the arts to hunger relief programs, and their generosity is inspiring.”

Matching grants come from corporate funds, matching the amount of money donated to a charity by an employee of that company.

According to CSRwire, nearly one-fifth of the total matching grants SVCF awarded by December 2015 came from PepsiCo employees and matching grants from the PepsiCo Foundation.

“PepsiCo believes in investing in our people and in the communities where we operate,” according to Andrea Seek, Director of Global Citizenship for PepsiCo. “It is gratifying that our partnership with SVCF and YourCause has allowed us to help improve and strengthen our communities around the globe.”

Around 65 percent of Fortune 500 companies have programs to match employees’ donations with corporate donations, according to CSRwire.

Approximately $2.1 billion was donated by the U.S. in 2014 by companies around the world through matching corporate gift programs.

SVCF is the largest community foundation in the world and continues to work toward innovative philanthropic solutions to challenging problems.

Jordan Connell

Sources: CSRwire, Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Photo: Silicon Valley Community Foundation

On May 22nd, a conference for the Arab International Women’s Forum titled “Young Arab Women Leaders — The Voice of the Future” was held at Birzeit University, the first university to be established in Palestine. The Forum was a particularly momentous occasion because it marked the first time the annual forum had taken place in Palestine in the organization’s 11-year history.

In an opening address, the Forum’s founder Haifa Al Kaylani, discussed the opportunity that this year’s forum had to empower women and youth in Palestine to ensure sustainable development in the region.

The Forum, which began as an idea in London, has flourished throughout the world. Its Board of Directors is composed of names representing companies such as PepsiCo, PriceWaterhouseCooper, and the Arab British Chamber of Commerce.

Addressing these influential people, Al Kaylani noted the wealth of Palestinian expertise and talent at the conference, citing again that the education and training of the youth is a necessary investment. She also commented that such important leaderships ethics would help women “take roles as leaders and job creators working towards the social and economic recovery in their communities and the region.”

Recently, AIWF made strides to expand digitally with the launch of its online forum, co-sponsored by PepsiCo. The topic of the most recent online forum was: “What impact has the rapid growth of technology in the last decade made on gender boundaries – societally, in the home and in the workplace?” Interested parties were allowed to enter the debate from the convenience of their laptops.

– Samantha Mauney

Sources: Wafa, Birzeit
Photo: AIWF