The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are not exclusive to the realm of government policy. The business and science communities can help address climate change and fight poverty as well.
According to the 2016 U.N. Global Compact-Accenture Strategy CEO Study, 87 percent of executives embrace the SDGs and are willing to reevaluate the way their companies do business.
The State of Responsible Business Report 2016, published by business intelligence company Ethical Corporation, found that the level of business engagement with U.N. SDGs is highest in the Asia-Pacific region at 54 percent.
This ranking was followed by 46 and 37 percent in Europe and North America, respectively. These results indicate that companies in or near the developing world are, in fact, the most eager to work toward achieving sustainable development.
On specific goals, Ethical Corporation determined that more than half of its customers are willing to engage on climate action, decent work and economic growth, as well as responsible consumption and production (these agendas rank 13, 8 and 12 out of the 17 U.e. SDGs).
By region, African companies are more focused on the goal of quality education, whereas businesses in the Asia-Pacific are more inclined to climate action.
Liam Dowd, the managing director of Ethical Corporation, pointed out that engagement on the goals of no poverty and zero hunger (one and two on the list of SDGs) is lower. Mr. Dowd said that engagement is likely because these targets are more general in scope and require cooperation with other sectors, not because companies are turning a blind eye to these issues.
Additionally, cooperation is precisely what the business and international communities are hoping to achieve. At the SDG Business Forum held in New York on July 19, 2016, the U.N. Global Compact and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) signed a memorandum of understanding on encouraging business participation in the U.N. 2030 agenda.
According to the Science and Development Network (SciDev.Net), the U.N. SDGs also have the potential to involve more everyday citizens in scientific research and make initiatives more people-oriented.
Elizabeth Pollitzer, the managing director at Portia, a company that aims to help women across science disciplines, argued that the “SDGs can be a beacon for innovation in the way research programmes are designed to include the people who are meant to benefit.”
In turn, increasing citizen engagement is an initiative that governments, the scientific community and other NGOs can improve upon.
For the development community, the U.N. SDGs have become points of cooperation with the science and business communities. They have enormous potential to bring about more responsible research and corporate strategies.
– Philip Katz