What Are the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and Why They Are Good for Business

The Sustainable Development Goals (commonly known as SDGs) were created in 2015 by the United Nations with the intent of correcting environmental degradation and social inequalities that resulted from global modernization. It relies on innovation and technology to actualize these ambitious improvements to our world and has the ultimate aim of ensuring all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. The goals are a fusion of social, economic and environmental sustainability, and are a set of international agreements to adjust the inequalities that exist between countries around the world. 

The movement of social responsibility is also observable in the business sector as an increasing number of businesses strive to be B Corps certified. This certification awards social and environmental accountability and means the company is actively ensuring it has a positive impact through its production, products, profits, and businesses. It is an honourable qualification for any business as society shifts to demand that corporations and governments share the responsibility of creating positive social change. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (hereby referred to as the WBCSD) estimates $14 trillion in the untapped market of SDGs, and it is projected to benefit currently developed and developing countries alike. Most notably, according to Peter Bakker, and President and CEO of WBCSD, “The Sustainable Development Goals Cannot Be Achieved without Business”. Due to growing demands for corporate social responsibility and the untapped and massively lucrative market, it is now in a company’s best interest to answer the global need for a sustainable future

The 17 SDG commitments are as described below:

  1. No poverty

Millions of people still struggle with poverty despite rapid economic progress in countries around the world, and it is an even bigger threat for countries with limited economic progress. About 736 million people lived on less than 2.33CAD as of 2015. These conditions are worsened by climate change and most recently, the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

  1. Zero hunger 

As of 2017, food scarcity threatened 821 million people and over 90 million children were severely malnourished. This sustainable development goal aims to use sustainable agriculture to eradicate famine around the world.

  1. Good health and well-being 

This SDG extends upon the medical progress of the past century, and focuses on ensuring medical care to everyone regardless of their socioeconomic standing. However, this goal is daunting as there is a 31-year gap between the shortest and longest life expectancies.

  1. Quality education 

Poverty hinders quality education, which in turn halts sustainable development. This goal aims to enroll all children into primary and secondary schooling by 2030 and to eliminate gender and wealth barriers in education.

  1. Gender equality 

Women are disproportionately affected by discrimination in the workplace, and this goal aims to encourage more female leaders in closing gender inequality gaps around the world.

  1. Clean water and sanitation 

Water is a precious, finite source, and this SDG aims to preserve secure access to water through infrastructure, sanitation facilities, and encouraging hygiene. This goal aims to reach the 4.5 billion people in 2015 who lack sanitation services. 

  1. Affordable and clean energy 

The world’s growing population would need clean and sustainable sources of energy to support increasing rates of production. Therefore, it is crucial to use clean energies like solar, wind and thermal power. 

  1. Decent work and economic growth

This goal recognizes worldwide unemployment in the labour market, and therefore encourages entrepreneurship and job creation to eradicate forced labour, slavery and human trafficking by 2030. 

  1. Industry, innovation and infrastructure 

This SDG strives to mend the digital gap between the developing and developed countries by ensuring informational access to all, as well as civil engineering cities that can sustainably house our booming populations.

  1. Reduced inequalities 

Social inequalities are more polarized than ever, and these disparities must be resolved to accomplish a green and just future. This SDG aims to reform systemic barriers in powerful institutions, as well as to invest in migration and social mobility.

  1. Sustainable cities and communities 

This goal focuses on effective city planning, affordable housing and building economic opportunities in response to urban sprawl and the emergence of slums in the developing world. 

  1. Responsible consumption and production 

Rampant consumerism has detrimental environmental consequences, such as how agriculture claims 70% of our precious water source. Therefore, it is crucial to shift to sustainable consumption by the year 2030 to preserve our finite resources. 

  1. Climate action 

Extreme climate patterns brought on by climate change is responsible for claiming 1.3 million human lives and injuring 4.4 billion people between 1998 and 2017. This ambitious goal aims to limit the global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels to reverse this humanitarian crisis.

  1. Life below water

The ocean covers more than 70% of the Earth, and humans have covered each square kilometre with an average of 13,000 pieces of plastic litter. In addition, ocean chemistry has undergone drastic changes since industrialization. This spells detriment for the marine ecosystem, and Goal 14 aims to manage and protect the marine and coastal ecosystems from threats such as pollution, ocean acidification and overexploitation.

  1. Life on land 

Flora and fauna on land are under threat from overhunting, illegal trades, and habitat loss. In addition to ecosystem collapse, poor communities are disproportionately affected by soil degradation. This goal aims to safe-keep life on land from a conservationist and humanitarian point of view. 

  1. Peace, justice and strong institutions 

Sustainability is inherently intertwined with social justice, and this goal aims to mitigate conflicts around the world that perpetuate violence, crime, exploitation and torture by promoting the rule of law and human rights. 

  1. Partnerships for the goals

The SDGs require global cooperation, which intrinsically forms a goal in itself to promote friendly diplomatic relationships. 

The Sustainable Development Goals are built upon each other to form the ultimate vision of a green and just world, and relies on today’s innovation to actualize these future accomplishments. Tiny Planet Digital understands the urgency of these solutions and believes it is our social responsibility to catalyze these changes by rewarding marketing service packages with a combined $5000.00 value for the best-proposed solutions. If you think you have what it takes to make a change in the world, be sure to:

Enter the Sustainable Growth Contest starting on May 24th, 2021. Time is running out, and we can’t wait to see what awaits us in the future.

Blog post written by Celina Fu.