Tackling the UN Sustainability Goals at One Young World

Alan Horn
By Melissa Munro for CA Today

1 November 2016

In 2015, the 193 members of the United Nations came together for one of the largest consultations in the UN’s history. The outcome was a global initiative which aims to unite us all in making the world a better place.

To achieve this, 17 Goals have been outlined which address eradicating extreme poverty and hunger to ensuring gender equality and free access to education for all. 

Sixty young leaders, representing different countries from around the world, gathered for a stimulating and thought-provoking discussion on the role we all need to play in meeting these hugely ambitious Goals. 

The One Young World Summit in Ottawa, Canada, provided a relevant platform for Chartered Accountants Worldwide (CAW) to bring together talented and inspiring individuals age between 18-30 to share discussions and collaborative strategies for meeting the Goals.

The session was chaired by Alan Horn CA CPA, President and CEO of one of Canada’s leading communications and media companies, Rogers Communications Inc.

Alan provided a fascinating insight into his experiences of promoting sustainability in business over the span of his career. Rogers Communications has a long history of investing in its employees, the community and reducing its carbon footprint.

From increasing representation of women in leadership positions within the company, to paper reduction initiatives and continued investment in training employees, Rogers Communications is a great example of an organisation who are invested in making positive change. 

Martin Martinoff, leader of the ICAEW AuditFutures thought-leadership programme, ran the interactive session which challenged today’s young leaders to discuss, debate and significance of the Goals and how they can be achieved.

Planning positive change

In small groups, the delegates worked together to identify if the Goals can be connected together as a whole, or if they need to be achieved individually. The approach each group took to formulating strategies to meeting the goals highlighted the creativity and diversity that’s required to ensure the Goals are achieved.

CAW breakout session group

Prioritising the Goals was likened to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Goals which relate to basic needs such as food and shelter should be met first. Goals which relate to self-actualisation can then be achieved once all basic needs had been met. There was appreciation from the group that different counties are at different places within this hierarchy.

CAW breakout session group

One team decided climate action was the most important Goal to address. We need to protect our planet so we all have a world to live in. If our planet isn’t fit for purpose, we don’t have purpose.

CAW breakout session group

A strategic web approach can link all Goals together, highlighting the inter-dependencies each has with another. Addressing Goals which relate to people and the planet is the starting point.

CAW breakout session group

The importance of picking one Goal to start with was emphasised. Once a start has been made, the rest will follow.  As all 17 Goals are interlinked, we can’t sacrifice one for another.

Drawing on each of their different backgrounds and experiences, the delegates attending the session provided a unique and diverse insight into how the Goals are linked, and most importantly, the role each of us can play to ensure the Goals are met.

The young leaders attending this session provided insightful and diverse views on how the 17 Goals can be achieved.  The UN Goals provide a framework to change the world for the better. It’s up to us on how we interpret this framework, and how we can each take on the responsibly for ensuring these Goals are met – as individuals, businesses and Governments.

As the views of these young leaders demonstrate, the challenge isn’t how we achieve them, the challenge is ensuring we are all empowered to achieve them.

Rimla Akhtar, One Young CA 2016, represented ICAS at the One Young World Summit as part of the Chartered Accountants Worldwide delegation.

She said: "Alan summed up the session well when he said that there is a need to protect the interest of the public before we protect the interest of our stakeholders, as is the case with ICAS and other Institutes and the entire accounting profession.  

"Speaking to the delegates on my table and others, it was clear that they left the session educated and, most importantly, with a framework within which they can act."


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