In 2015 the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Its 17 associated global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are intended to create societies that are more just and sustainable. The SDGs address the grave economic, social and environmental challenges confronting us and represent the best and most wide-ranging plan we have for people and planet.
The SDGs, Sustainable Enterprise and Impact Investing
The Good Capital Conference is the global SDG investment show, hosted in London. It exists to showcase the innovative sustainable enterprises that are working to solve the SDGs. We connect truly sustainable, inclusive and impact-driven enterprises with global impact investors to help find the necessary capital to grow their business and tackle these challenges. Sustainable enterprises have a crucial role to play in achieving the SDGs. Article 67 explicitly calls on businesses to apply their creativity and innovation to solving sustainable development challenges, recognising that, “private business activity, investment, and innovation are major drivers of productivity, inclusive economic growth, and job creation.” It has been estimated that the SDGs present a US$12 trillion opportunity for the private sector, offering a compelling growth strategy. Paul Polman, the former CEO at Unilever – and long-standing champion of sustainable business – has called it “the greatest economic opportunity of a lifetime”.
A directional shift must be made in the discourse, narratives, and frameworks we use to do business. We need a shift from a focus on economic value as the key goal of business to social value creation. Sustainable enterprises – as businesses with social, impact and environmental change at the heart of their missions – should be at the forefront of this much-needed shift. Investing for both financial returns and social and environmental impact is not only possible but are mutually enforcing objectives.
What the SDG’s do for sustainable enterprises is offer a clear way forward for those wondering where growth opportunities lie, as well as a means of assessing impact throughout the value chain.
Given the breadth of the 17 goals and their 169 clauses, getting to grips with exactly how impact-driven businesses can contribute can seem a daunting task. The purpose, however, is not to work through the SDGs as a box-ticking exercise. “The challenges highlighted [are] global problems that require global solutions,” said Mr Liu Zhenmin, UN Under Secretary for Economic and Social Affairs, “Just as problems are interrelated, the solutions to poverty, inequality, climate change, and other global challenges are also interlinked.”
What progress have we made?
Almost five years have passed since 2015, progress is being made in some areas. As the Sustainable Development Report 2019 highlights:
- Extreme poverty has declined considerably
- The under-5 mortality rate fell by 49 per cent between 2000 and 2017
- Immunizations have saved millions of lives
- Most of the world’s population now has access to electricity
- Marine protected areas have doubled since 2010
- Countries are working concertedly to address illegal fishing
- 186 parties have ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change
- About 150 countries have developed national policies to respond to the challenges of rapid urbanization; and
- 71 countries and the European Union now have more than 300 policies and instruments supporting sustainable consumption and production
However, no country is on track to achieving all the goals and ground is being lost in many areas. Inequality continues to rise, we continue to destroy our climate and ecosystems, we are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide. There is much work to be done and The Good Capital Conference is here to help your sustainable enterprise deliver on these promises.Want to know more? We believe in the Sustainable Development Goals and we aim to help with their delivery through our event, by gathering stakeholders able to make a real change in the world.