What the SDGs mean for business
Learn about the impact the SDGs can have on business success.
We live in an increasingly complex world. While recent decades have seen us achieve unprecedented economic growth and make real progress on a number of key development issues, these successes have masked major fault lines in our current development model. These faults are giving rise to a swelling list of environmental and social burdens; burdens that pose increasing threats to our way of life and are turning the world into a much less viable place in which to conduct business.
The last five years have been the hottest since records began.
Sea levels are rising at the fastest rate in 3,000 years, an average of three millimeters per year.
More than 800 million people are already vulnerable to climate change impacts (including droughts, floods and extreme weather events).
The impacts of climate change could cost businesses USD $1 trillion in the next five years.
Global wildlife populations have declined by 60% in the last 40 years due to human pressures. A million plant and animal species face extinction within decades.
More than 20% of the Earth’s land area was degraded between 2000 and 2015.
The world’s tropical forests are shrinking at a staggering rate, the equivalent of 30 football pitches per minute.
Eight million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans annually. Unless action is taken, it is estimated that there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050.
More than 700 million people are living in extreme poverty, on less than USD $2 per day.
Some 25 million people are in some form of forced labor in global supply chains.
There are more than 152 million cases of child labor globally.
An estimated 821 million people were undernourished in 2017.
The good news is, we know exactly what we need to do to tackle these challenges. The SDGs, unanimously adopted by United Nations Member States in 2015, lay out 17 goals for the world to achieve by 2030 with a view to ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
Click on a Goal or take a spin and explore each of the Goals.
Nearly half the global population still lives in poverty. SDG 1 aims to end poverty in all its forms everywhere through collaboration, stronger social protection measures and significant mobilization of global resources.
Global resources are sufficient to support current population numbers; however, unequal access means that hunger is still the leading cause of death worldwide. SDG 2 aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
Major steps have already been taken to improve the health of millions of people, increasing global life expectancies and fighting communicable diseases. SDG 3 aims to further ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages by reducing maternal and infant mortality, ending disease epidemics and achieving universal health coverage.
Education is the key to global prosperity. SDG 4 aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all by ensuring access to equal and quality education for all boys and girls up until secondary school age, as well as increasing access to technical and vocational training for youth and adults.
Gender bias is not just a human rights issue; it is a tremendous waste of potential as well. SDG 5 aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life, so we can ensure everyone has the opportunity to thrive.
Lack of access to clean water and sanitation continues to impact billions of people worldwide. SDG 6 aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all with universal access to safe, affordable drinking water – crucial to reducing unnecessary disease and death.
SDG 7 aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Greater efforts must be made to implement new energy solutions that will help to tackle climate change and ensure sustainable energy for all.
SDG 8 works to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. By encouraging decent job creation, reducing the number of unemployed youth, increasing training or education and protecting labor rights for all, we can ensure that economic growth benefits society as a whole.
Communities can only grow and innovate with a strong foundation of resilient infrastructure. SDG 9 aims to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.
Although global wealth continues to grow, this doesn’t mean it is being equally distributed. SDG 10 aims to reduce inequalities within and among countries. Greater efforts are needed to achieve and sustain income growth for the bottom 40% of the population, and to promote social, economic and political inclusion for everyone regardless of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic status.
As populations continue to increase, and more people move into urban settings, SDG 11 aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. This means amplifying efforts to provide safe, affordable housing and sustainable transport systems while still protecting the world’s cultural and natural heritage.
We are currently consuming the world’s natural resources at a rate faster than they can be replenished. SDG 12 aims to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns by reducing food waste and improving the management and use of resources to safeguard the environment for generations to come.
We are facing a climate emergency that threatens the world as we know it. SDG 13 ensures we take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts through increased education and innovation and adhering to climate commitments.
Oceans cover 70% of our planet and are crucial to our survival. SDG 14 aims to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development by eliminating marine pollution and overfishing to safeguard the marine environment and the communities relying on it.
Healthy terrestrial ecosystems are essential to our lives. SDG 15 aims to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and prevent biodiversity loss.
SDG 16 aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Violence must end and corruption, bribery and other illegal activities must be addressed in order to build stronger societies that will work together for people and the planet.
SDG 17 aims to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. Businesses must work alongside governments, academics, the civil society and industry peers to develop solutions and mobilize resources and technology to deliver on the Goals.
Never before has there been so much global consensus on such a comprehensive and collective pathway for humanity.
The SDGs are the result of an extensive multi-stakeholder engagement process that incorporated the inputs and insights of governments, businesses, intergovernmental organizations and civil society.
In many ways, the SDGs have turned every country into a developing country.
When it comes to realizing the ambitions of the SDGs, every country in the world has work to do. The SDGs lay down a series of challenges for all countries to rise to on the road to 2030.
The real power of the SDGs lies in the detail that sits beneath the 17 headline goals.
The SDGs are underpinned by 169 specific targets and over 200 indicators that provide highly prescriptive guidance on how to put the world onto a more sustainable path.
The Goals were designed to be ambitious and transformative.
The SDGs will not be realized through business as usual. They call for the radical transformation of our key economic systems and unprecedented efforts from a broad range of stakeholders.
The SDGs are our sustainability roadmap for 2030, but how much do you remember about why the world needs these goals?