The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were approved in September of 2015 by more than 190 countries as a new global Sustainable Development Agenda and is based on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. There are 17 goals that include 19 targets, which cover a wide range of factors of interest both for the public and private sectors. It is an inclusive agenda to be adopted by all countries, calling for action to mobilize the necessary resources and efforts to pursue common goals and targets. The big global challenges addressed by this agenda affect all of us. The sustainable solutions to face these challenges could only be found through cooperation and concerted efforts, which requires the commitment and support of governments, companies and the civil society. In addition to the eradication of poverty by addressing its main causes, the priorities of the 2030 Agenda include new fields of action such as climate change, sustainable consumption, innovation, economic inequality, peace and justice. All SDGs are interrelated. Therefore, the successful achievement of each of them will depend on factors associated to other goals.
The private sector is ever more aware of the fact that their business could only develop if the environmental and social conditions are appropriate; and that the enjoyment of a positive business climate requires a stable and prosperous societies.
SDGs are a guide for companies to manage social, economic and environmental risks, improve their competitiveness and their strategic positioning in the market and increase their corporate reputation.
The alignment of their business strategy with the achievement of SDGs will allow companies to capitalize on a series of benefits, including the identification of new business opportunities, the identification and/or adoption of new technologies, the implementation of new solutions based on sustainable development and the expansion of their portfolio of products and services.
Companies can be part of the solution in the face of global challenges by adequately managing their environmental impact and that of their supply chains. They can also improve their economic results in the mid and long term by incorporating sustainability into their business strategies.
Climate change is a global challenge that affects all countries in all continents and has a negative impact on their economies and the life of peoples and communities. It also multiplies the effect of many other threats, which disproportionately affects the poorest and most vulnerable. In order to cope with climate change, the international community needs to work in a coordinated way so that all countries can advance towards a low carbon economy.
SDGs recognize that the current development pattern is environmentally unsustainable and that it is necessary to struggle against climate change (particularly against human actions that contribute to global warming) and minimize its impact on the life of persons. Goal 13 introduces climate change as a fundamental factor in the policies, strategies and programs of countries, companies and the civil society.
It urges all States to make an economic contribution to achieve the goals adopted at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and promotes international cooperation to ensure that developing countries can improve their capacity to manage climate change.
The private sector plays an important role in the achievement of this goal, since it can design strategies to reduce and offset its environmental impact by favoring the consumption of renewable energy to the detriment of fossil energy, investing in innovation to develop and/or adopt clean technologies, produce more sustainable goods and services and work in a coordinated way to meet the global commitments against climate change.
The environmental dimension cross-cuts most of the Sustainable Development Goals:
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. The tasks include the strengthening of the resilience capacity, the improvement of education and environmental awareness, implement the commitments undertaken under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and increase the capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management.
Ensure availability of water and its sustainable management as well as sanitation and hygiene for all. It also addresses quality and sustainability of water resources, which are essential for the survival of persons and plants in the planet and play a fundamental role in the progress of other areas such as health, education and the reduction of poverty.
Ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services. This goal is indispensable to meet other goals, such as the eradication of poverty, health, education, water supply, industrialization and mitigation of climate change.
Ensure that cities and human settlements are inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Cities can be incubators of innovation and growth, as well as engines of sustainable development.
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. In order to achieve economic growth it is indispensable to minimize the consumption of natural resources and toxic materials and reduce the generation of wastes and pollutants in the production and consumption processes.
Preserve and make a sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources for a sustainable development. Oceans provide food, livelihood and benefits to numerous sectors and help regulate the global ecosystem by absorbing atmosphere’s heat and CO2.
Achieve a sustainable management of forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. Terrestrial ecosystems are vital for the supply of food, materials and products on which our survival and the quality of life of communities depend.
While the main goal that we emphasize is SDG 13 as well as the other six that are directly related to climate change (SDG 6, SDG 7, SDG 11, SDG 12, SDG 14 and SDG 15), we also contribute, through the Platform, to other important goals which are focused on the improvement of the quality of life of communities and the creation of the necessary partnerships to achieve the envisaged goals. These are:
This goal has to do not only with income increase. It is also a commitment to eradicate malnutrition, provide access to resources, abolish all forms of discrimination and improve the living conditions of persons, families and communities.
End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. It is meant to ensure that all persons have sufficient quality food to live a healthy life.
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. To achieve this goal it is necessary that both the public and private sectors contribute to the creation of an enabling environment for a sustainable economic growth that provide employment opportunities and improve the living conditions of the population.
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. It will be necessary to develop and implement clean technologies allowing for changing production patterns towards low carbon economies, as well as sustained investments in the construction of efficient and resilient infrastructure.
Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. The achievement of the SDGs targets will require strengthened global partnerships that include governments, the civil society, the private sector, the UN system and other actors, to draw attention to this issue and mobilize all available resources for the achievement of these common goals.
The value of cooperation is explicitly included in the design of SDGs, particularly SDG 17, which outlines several goals, including business partnerships (sectoral and intersectoral), and multi-stakeholder partnerships in which governments, the private sector and the civil society organizations can concert their efforts to face complex challenges.
SDGs can help unite different partners around common goals and priorities. The construction of sustainable development efficient partnerships requires a high level of commitment from different actors. Partners should establish common goals, contribute their respective basic competences, focus on impacts and identify the necessary resources, define channel for a fluent communication and establish an effective follow-up framework.
It is necessary to create new spaces for interaction that make it possible to establish a cooperation pattern in which the public sector, the private sector and the social sector can cooperate to find innovative solutions to social needs and environmental challenges and create a common value.
These new partnerships will make it possible to develop joint initiatives of a greater impact, for which resources, competences and efforts can be put together in a coordinated way to improve the quality of social intervention and introduce sustainable local and global changes. By means of these partnerships, it will be possible to implement projects that could not be carried out separately with the same level of efficiency and generate social value in those geographical locations where companies operate. These initiatives will also allow companies to generate value for their different interest groups and respond to the increasing demand of playing an active role in society.