As brands and businesses we can have a profound impact on the world beyond just making money. Many brands are starting to realise the value of operating in a way which gives value to not only their bottom line but also to society.
Ok, so you want to make a difference to the world and through making a profit you want to create value for those around you? So how do you know where to start? The UN have done the hard work for us and have identified 17 goals for the world to focus on. If you want to think about how your business can contribute the shared value, take a look at the UN’s Sustainability goals for some inspiration on how to add initiatives to your business strategy.
Many organisations are looking towards these goals when setting their strategy in these areas so it’s important to remember if you want to continue to differentiate you need to think about how you can take these goals and make them your own to help differentiate your business for a competitive advantage.
There is a lot more information on each goal on the UN’s website, we’ve just pulled out a summary here as a starting point.
Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Extreme poverty rates have been cut by more than half since 1990. While this is a remarkable achievement, one in five people in developing regions still live on less than $1.25 a day, and there are millions more who make little more than this daily amount, plus many people risk slipping back into poverty.
Poverty is more than the lack of income and resources to ensure a sustainable livelihood. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion as well as the lack of participation in decision-making. Economic growth must be inclusive to provide sustainable jobs and promote equality.
Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
- 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone.
It is time to rethink how we grow, share and consume our food.
If done right, agriculture, forestry and fisheries can provide nutritious food for all and generate decent incomes, while supporting people-centred rural development and protecting the environment.
Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
- 17,000 fewer children die each day than in 1990, but more than six million children still die before their fifth birthday each year
- maternal mortality ratio – the proportion of mothers that do not survive childbirth compared to those who do – in developing regions is still 14 times higher than in the developed regions
Ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being for all at any age is essential to sustainable development. Significant strides have been made in increasing life expectancy and reducing some of the common killers associated with child and maternal mortality. Major progress has been made on increasing access to clean water and sanitation, reducing malaria, tuberculosis, polio and the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning
- Enrolment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91 per cent however 57 million children remain out of school
Obtaining a quality education is the foundation to improving people’s lives and sustainable development. Major progress has been made towards increasing access to education at all levels and increasing enrolment rates in schools particularly for women and girls. Basic literacy skills have improved tremendously, yet bolder efforts are needed to make even greater strides for achieving universal education goals.
Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
- In 46 countries, women now hold more than 30 per cent of seats in national parliament in at least one chamber.
While the world has achieved progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment under the Millennium Development Goals (including equal access to primary education between girls and boys), women and girls continue to suffer discrimination and violence in every part of the world.
Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all
- 2.4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines
Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in. There is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this. But due to bad economics or poor infrastructure, every year millions of people, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene.
Brands to recognise: Who Gives a Crap.
Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
- 3 billion people rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating
Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today. Be it for jobs, security, climate change, food production or increasing incomes, access to energy for all is essential.
Goal 8: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all
- Global unemployment increased from 170 million in 2007 to nearly 202 million in 2012, of which about 75 million are young women and men.
Roughly half the world’s population still lives on the equivalent of about US$2 a day. And in too many places, having a job doesn’t guarantee the ability to escape from poverty. This slow and uneven progress requires us to rethink and retool our economic and social policies aimed at eradicating poverty.
Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation
- Small and medium-sized enterprises that engage in industrial processing and manufacturing are the most critical for the early stages of industrialisation and are typically the largest job creators. They make up over 90 per cent of business worldwide and account for between 50-60 per cent of employment
Investments in infrastructure – transport, irrigation, energy and information and communication technology – are crucial to achieving sustainable development and empowering communities in many countries. It has long been recognized that growth in productivity and incomes, and improvements in health and education outcomes require investment in infrastructure.
Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
- A significant majority of households in developing countries—more than 75 per cent of the population—are living today in societies where income is more unequally distributed than it was in the 1990s
Additionally, while income inequality between countries may have been reduced, inequality within countries has risen. There is growing consensus that economic growth is not sufﬁcient to reduce poverty if it is not inclusive and if it does not involve the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental.
Goal 11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
- Half of humanity – 3.5 billion people – lives in cities today
Cities are hubs for ideas, commerce, culture, science, productivity, social development and much more. At their best, cities have enabled people to advance socially and economically.
However, many challenges exist to maintaining cities in a way that continues to create jobs and prosperity while not straining land and resources. Common urban challenges include congestion, lack of funds to provide basic services, a shortage of adequate housing and declining infrastructure.
Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
- Each year, an estimated one third of all food produced – equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes worth around $1 trillion – ends up rotting in the bins of consumers and retailers, or spoiling due to poor transportation and harvesting practices
Sustainable consumption and production aims at “doing more and better with less,” increasing net welfare gains from economic activities by reducing resource use, degradation and pollution along the whole lifecycle, while increasing quality of life. It involves different stakeholders, including business, consumers, policy makers, researchers, scientists, retailers, media, and development cooperation agencies, among others.
Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
- From 1880 to 2012, average global temperature increased by 0.85°C. To put this into perspective, for each 1 degree of temperature increase, grain yields decline by about 5 per cent. Maize, wheat and other major crops have experienced significant yield reductions at the global level of 40 megatonnes per year between 1981 and 2002 due to a warmer climate.
Climate change is now affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow.
Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources
- Oceans cover three quarters of the Earth’s surface, contain 97 per cent of the Earth’s water, and represent 99 per cent of the living space on the planet by volume
The world’s oceans – their temperature, chemistry, currents and life – drive global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. Our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, much of our food, and even the oxygen in the air we breathe, are all ultimately provided and regulated by the sea. Throughout history, oceans and seas have been vital conduits for trade and transportation.
Goal 15: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss
- Due to drought and desertification each year 12 million hectares are lost (23 hectares per minute), where 20 million tons of grain could have been grown
Forests cover 30 per cent of the Earth’s surface and in addition to providing food security and shelter, forests are key to combating climate change, protecting biodiversity and the homes of the indigenous population. Thirteen million hectares of forests are being lost every year while the persistent degradation of drylands has led to the desertification of 3.6 billion hectares.
Goal 16: Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies
- Corruption, bribery, theft and tax evasion cost some US $1.26 trillion for developing countries per year; this amount of money could be used to lift those who are living on less than $1.25 a day above $1.25 for at least six years
The promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels.
Goal 17: Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
- 79 per cent of imports from developing countries enter developed countries duty-free
A successful sustainable development agenda requires partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society. These inclusive partnerships built upon principles and values, a shared vision, and shared goals that place people and the planet at the centre, are needed at the global, regional, national and local level.
Gemma works on our client service team to help clients reach their business objectives through strategic branding and marketing. She has a particular interest in helping brands to create authentic propositions that have a positive impact on people, planet and organisations to create shared value for all.