Sustainable development has been defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
In fall 2019, heads of state and government convened at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City to access the progress of these goals. In January 2020, the UN kicked off The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, by hosting a UN SDG Media Zone with the UN Global Compact and in partnership with the UN Department of Global Communications.
As a California Benefit Corporation, part of GET HELP’s mission is to create a positive impact in the world and the markets it serves. GET HELP embraces this impact orientation with its adoption of the MetaImpact Framework to help further define the types of impact we create and how to best measure these impacts.
With just under ten years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, world leaders at the SDG Summit in September 2019 called for a Decade of Action and pledged to mobilize financing, enhance national implementation, and strengthen institutions to achieve the goals by the target date of 2030, leaving no one behind.
The UN Secretary-General called on all sectors of society to mobilize for a decade of action on three levels: global action, local action, and people action.
At the core of the 2020–2030 decade is the need for action to tackle growing poverty, empower women and girls, and address the climate emergency.
The UN has partnered with DNV GL, the independent expert in risk management and quality assurance, to report on progress toward the SDGs.
In our research into the UN Global Compact participants, we found that awareness of the SDGs is high. The research confirmed that the Ten Principles have been embedded in corporate practices among the companies interviewed, and that progress has been made in adapting policies and principles over the past twenty years.
Eco Warrior Princess dived into the DNV GL assessment and provided concise numbers on key findings:
Progress is uneven across the SDGs, with many companies choosing to focus on Work and Economic Growth; Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; Responsible Consumption and Production; Climate Action; and Good Health and Well-being. Meanwhile, less traction has been made in advancing the socially focused SDGs such as reduced inequalities, gender equality, and peace, justice, and strong institutions.
The European Commission reports on the progress of SDGs as well.
In order to ensure progress and long-term accountability, the 2030 Agenda includes a strong follow-up and review mechanism, which will allow all partners to assess the impact of their actions. At global level, this is overseen by the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, which meets at UNHQ every year to track progress.
In April 2020, The Bookings Institution reported on SDG progress, providing a synopsis of their meetings and interviews with city leaders. They also factored in how COVID-19 has impacted their progress—in some cases helping align and improve cooperation, and in other cases shifting focus away from the SDGs to manage the health crisis and the closing of the economy. Notably, the Brookings Institution report contains a number of direct quotes from their interviews.
“It is important for cities to talk to each other about the different phases of SDG implementation because there is not one right way to do this.”
–Alex Hiniker, Carnegie Mellon University
“The SDG dashboard enables us to pose questions out to citizen-led data gathering groups who can help us crowdsource publicly available datasets to create new measures or new indicators within the SDG framework that are particularly relevant to LA.”
–Erin Bromaghim, Los Angeles Mayor’s Office
SDGs are a worldwide effort embraced at the local, national, and international level. Participation, while voluntary, is happening at the corporate, government, organization, and individual level. Taking time to learn more about the seventeen SDGs can help you get involved.