When most of us hear of the United Nations, we think of activities such as their aid work for refugees, eradicating diseases such as malaria or supplying blue-uniformed peace-keeping forces in places like Africa. But the UN is onto something much bigger this month… on September 25, 2015, all 193 member states of the United Nations (UN) will commit to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under the banner Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – to achieve three overarching and truly global outcomes over the next 15 years – ending extreme poverty, fighting inequality and injustice, and addressing climate change… in all countries, for all people. And the UN wants your support to make all this happen.
Businesses Stand to Benefit
Moreover, there are good reasons for businesses to get directly involved in promoting these 17 SDGs because what’s good for the world, is good for business. As President of the UN Foundation Kathy Calvin elaborates, 93% of CEOs believe the goals will boost future business success and private sector engagement will empower people to move from poverty to prosperity by driving economic growth and job creation.
So this UN-2030 initiative is an excellent opportunity for corporations to leverage their strengths through corporate philanthropy programs to educate, incentivize and engage employees on causes that directly benefit all of us. Corporate philanthropy and workplace giving programs are extremely effective at mobilizing volunteers but also provide proven benefits to organizations by making them more attractive as places to work at, boosting employee happiness and teamwork, reducing employee turnover and recruitment expenses, and driving up revenue, profits and corporate reputation.
The UN’s 5-Point Agenda
The UN plans to address the following five areas of critical importance to humanity and the planet:
People: End poverty and hunger, in all forms and dimensions, so all human beings can fulfil their potential with dignity and equality, in a healthy environment.
Planet: Protect the planet through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, to support the needs of present and future generations.
Prosperity: Ensure that all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives, where economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature.
Peace: Foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies, free from fear and violence because there can be no sustainable development without peace, and no peace without sustainable development.
Partnership: Mobilize the means required to implement this agenda through a revitalized Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, based on a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, with the participation of all countries, all stakeholders and all people (fyi… this is where you, your employer, your support system come in!)
Ambitious!!! You’ve Got to Give Them Credit.
So while the UN’s goals sound really ambitious and far reaching, you’ve got to give them credit for their bold and much needed vision, and their tangible plan to see it to fruition. I mean, really… coz two of their three targeted outcomes – poverty, and inequality and injustice – have been the bane of mankind since recorded history, and the third – climate change – is no easy nut to crack, especially as large under-developed parts of our world look towards greater energy use to improve living standards.
But dig deeper and you’ll see that the UN has studied this one carefully and thought it through. And, if you’re still skeptical, take heart in real data. Over just the past 15 years, there’s been real progress in meeting similarly “ambitious” development challenges – with hundreds of millions out of extreme poverty, greatly increased access to education for boys and girls, and accelerated human progress through the spread of information and communications technology that has bridged the digital divide and led to scientific and technological innovation across areas as diverse as medicine and energy.
Jump In and Help… It’ll Be Fun and So Worth It!
But the UN knows it doesn’t have the resources or the wherewithal to independently achieve its SDG goals, so they plan to rely on Partnerships (#17 above) across all countries, all stakeholders and all people to make this happen.
And while it’s tempting to think that these problems are endemic to just under-developed countries, think again… and you’ll realize that America needs help with at least 14 of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals… with much to be done, here at home, on issues such as poverty, hunger, health, education, equality, responsible consumption, climate action, and more.
So individuals, corporations and organizations across the spectrum must do all they can… simply because it’s in everyone’s best interests to make the UN’S 2030 goals a reality. Companies can learn more on how to get involved by teaming up with Impact 2030 – a collaboration of companies around the world, of all sizes, to mobilize their employees in volunteer efforts towards the achievement of the UN’s 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, or by registering directly with the UN.
If we collectively realize the full extent of this agenda, all our lives will improve profoundly and our world will be transformed for the better. So, c’mon people, let’s jump in with all we’ve got and make this happen, not just today but through sustained efforts year after year over the next 15 years! I know it sounds hard and it’s long term, but if we work as a team, it’ll be more fun than hard work… and making the world a better place for current and future generations will be so worth it!