This evening I had the pleasure of attending an event hosted by the United Nations Association in the House of Lords about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The main question was: ‘Why is the UK trailing its Commonwealth partners in tackling the UN SDGs?’ After all, the UK did champion the Goals and there is keen interest in both Houses of Parliament. A few years later the detailed strategy is yet to be developed, let alone reported on.
However, companies don’t need to wait for central government to embrace this global movement.
Steve Kenzie, the Executive Director of UK Network, UN Global Compact, one of the speakers tonight, described the SDGs as a ‘tremendously business-friendly agenda’. He pointed out that they are the outcome of the ‘best free market research’ and tell you exactly what people want the world to look like. It’s a positive vision for the future we can all get behind.
Rt Hon Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale, Co-Chair, APPG, Global Goals for Sustainable Development said that the goals are universal and prioritise those who are most vulnerable.
We are called to action on 17 goals: from no poverty, to gender equality, to climate change. The central principle of the goals is to “Leave No-one Behind”.
PwC surveyed business and citizens about their plans to launch the SDGs and 71% of businesses say they are already planning how they will respond to the SDGs.
In the meantime:
‘90% of citizens believe it is important that business signs up to the SDGs
78% of citizens said they were more likely to buy the goods and services of companies that had signed up to the SDGs (increasing to 90% for citizens from Latin America).’
So perhaps it doesn't matter that the UK government is behind on this. It is clear that the social responsibility of companies is changing and that (at least until 2030!) the SDGs are increasingly going to be a part of it.
If you are interested learning more, the first step may be to read this excellent research by PwC, ‘Make it your business: Engaging with the Sustainable Development Goals’ here.
Thank you to the United Nations Association for an interesting and thought-provoking evening!