The UN Sustainable Development Goals

In September 2015, the UN announced that they had reached consensus on the Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs) needed to transform our world by 2030.

These committed world leaders to 17 goals to achieve three extraordinary things in the next 15 years:

  • End extreme poverty.
  • Fight inequality and injustice.
  • Fix climate change.

The goals seek to realise the human rights of all and to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. They are integrated and indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental.

For the goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society and each of us as individuals.

Whilst all the goals are connected, and only by meeting all of them will we create our vision for the future, there are some that may be more relevant than others.

ICAS influence

ICAS funded research, produced by Professor Carol Adams of Durham University Business School, and supported by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) and Green Economy Coalition (GEC) to help organisations enhance their contribution to the SDGs, whilst reducing corporate risk and increasing opportunities that arise from sustainable development issues.

The Sustainable Development Goals, integrated thinking and the integrated report, takes the concept of the six capitals, a fundamental feature of Integrated Reporting and addresses how, by creating value for themselves and for others, organisations can make a material contribution to the SDGs.

Role of individuals

Here are some of the things you can do as an individual to take action and help achieve the SDGs:

Project Everyone took the goals and developed a powerful visual and communications campaign, led by film director and writer Richard Curtis, to drive awareness and engagement

Role of the profession

The specific skills of the accounting profession, for example, the measurement, reporting and assurance skills instilled in our members, enable them to inform and facilitate effective and responsible decision-making.

The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) 2030 Agenda for sustainable development identified opportunities for the accounting profession to contribute to the SDGs involving at least eight of the SDGs.

Role of business

A responsible business is one that puts the needs of society at the heart of its long-term value creation strategy. The Business in the Community (BITC) Responsible business map helps companies understand how they can contribute to the SDGs based on the key issues they have identified.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), UN Global Compact and GRI developed the SDG Compass to explain how business can contribute to the achievement of the SDGs.

The Business and Sustainable Development Commission produced a report: Better Business Better World which highlighted the business case for the SDGs and listed the 60 biggest market opportunities related to delivering the SDGs.

The Global Goals for Sustainable Development Scotland Network is a coalition of over 250 people and organisations from across Scotland committed to making sure that the Global Goals for Sustainable Development become every Scot’s business by sharing knowledge, experience and resources.

DNV*GL have developed a resource that showcases, for each SDG, a company pioneering progress towards the goals.


  • Sustainability

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