A Shift From Business As Usual as SDGs Mark Second Anniversary
4 October 2017 at 8:50 am
We need to keep our foot on the pedal when it comes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), according to the executive director of Global Compact Network Australia.
Alice Cope told Pro Bono News progress was being made in some areas of the SDG agenda in some countries and regions, but not across the board.
Her comments follow the two-year anniversary of the adoption of the SDGs, where total of 193 governments signed the Agenda 2030 on 25 September 2015 and committed to adopt the 17 goals, which seek to end poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change.
To mark the anniversary, thousands of people participated in hundreds of events across the world to raise awareness for the goals and to hold governments accountable for their rollout of national implementation programs.
Cope said it was “an ambitious agenda”.
“All sectors need to scale their own individual impacts as well as identify new opportunities for collective impact if we’re to achieve the goals by 2030,” Cope said.
“We can do it, but it will take concerted and focused effort, and a shift from a ‘business as usual’ approach.”
She said leading Australian businesses were actively engaged on the SDGs, and in fact “moved pretty quickly to embrace the agenda after its launch”.
“Within that group of leading businesses, we have seen the mapping of impacts and contributions against the goals, and increasing communication around these – and the discussion is now moving beyond this to more strategic engagement, the emergence of partnerships framed by the SDGs, and the development of products, services and business models that contribute to the goals,” she said.
“Beyond this group of early leaders, we are of course keen to see more Australian businesses engage.”
Earlier in the year the 2017 edition of the SDG Index and Dashboards report, which provides a report card for country performance on the SDGs, ranked Australia 26th in the world.
Cope said the ranking could be useful in flagging areas for particular focus.
“There is some great work being done in Australia across sectors, and significant opportunities to build on achievements to date to fill implementation gaps,” she said.
Cope said there were a range of ways businesses could contribute to the goals.
“Beyond aligning sustainability and broader strategies with the SDGs, we are starting to see the translation of SDG commitments into measurable goals and targets, and the development of evaluation and reporting approaches, which is also important for building alignment and scaling impact,” she said.
Cope said the SDGs provided a powerful framework for businesses.
“Businesses cannot succeed in a society or environment that is struggling,” Cope said.
“The SDGs provide a powerful framework for businesses to understand and address both risks and responsibilities, as well as opportunities.
“There is also power in understanding the SDGs in a holistic way, and the interdependencies and even trade offs between different aspects of the agenda, to explore and respond to the systemic risks and opportunities they speak to.”
She said the SDGs could provide “a common language which can help bring organisations together across sectors, build shared aspirations and find opportunities for collaboration”.
“Stakeholders – whether that’s investors, governments, civil society or others – are also increasingly expecting businesses to be able to speak to their impact on the SDGs, creating another powerful incentive for engagement,” she said.
“At a time where we are also seeing a trust deficit, the SDGs provide a framework for strengthening the private sector’s social contract.”