Creating a sustainable future with the UN SDGs
The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all UN Member states in 2015 and provides a plan for peace and prosperity for both people and the planet.
At the centre of the agenda are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – an urgent call for all countries to work together to create a better and more sustainable future.
In order to create a truly sustainable world the SDGs recognise that ending poverty and reducing inequality must be tackled hand-in-hand with improving education, health and increasing economic growth – and at the same time tackling climate change and preserving our planet.
Progress has been made in some areas since the adoption of the SDGs, such as increasing women’s representation in government and improving maternal and child health. However, in other areas we’ve seen the progress stall or reverse. We’ve seen growing food insecurity, continuing inequalities and climate change is accelerating faster than initially anticipated.
Pandemic increases inequalities
And now the COVID-19 pandemic has caused further disruption to the progress, with the poorest, most vulnerable and women worst hit by the pandemic. Due to the pandemic more people were pushed back into extreme poverty, global unemployment increased, and women and children are bearing the heaviest brunt of the pandemic.
ICAS Sustainability Panel member Professor Carol Adams says: “The global pandemic has highlighted the importance of social issues in achieving sustainable development. We must remember our humanity. Climate change cannot be addressed in isolation of inequality, poverty and the well-being of all people.”
The pandemic is a chance to create real change and steer the focus back on the SDGs to build back a better and more sustainable economy.
And while progress has had a setback, some companies across the world have continued working towards achieving the SDGs. ICAS Sustainability Panel member Nick Fitzpatrick, Head of Commercial Finance, SSE Renewables, said: “Despite the challenges of the pandemic, at SSE we have moved forward with maintaining progress towards our 2030 SDG targets. We published our “Greenprint” which sets out the plan for a green economic recovery; most notably at SSE we have contributed by committing over £2bn of capital towards the construction of the Dogger Bank and Seagreen offshore windfarms and the Viking onshore windfarm.”
We all have a role to play in achieving the SDGs and at ICAS we are developing our own sustainability story as part of our Responsible Business Strategy focusing on three themes of Climate Change; Equality, Diversity and Inclusion; and Public Trust.
Are you finding it hard to distinguish ESG from SDGs and GRI? Read our handy guide to sustainability acronyms.