What is the 2030 Agenda?
Global warming threatens the existence of many plant and animal species around the world. Human civilization is not immune from this threat. Many proposals and plans have been put forward to slow or even stop global warming. They mainly involve improving social, economic, and environmental sustainability. This long-standing societal issue is also important to businesses because it can promote sales.
Decision-makers should keep in mind the 17 Goals set by the UN in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda. The Sustainable Development Goals are intended to promote sustainable, global development at all levels. Businesses can contribute to this by aligning their business model and processes to the 2030 Agenda and its Goals.
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The 17 Sustainable Goals – Overview
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are intended to apply to all areas of society. Here’s a brief list of suggestions for how they could work in business.
- No Poverty: Fair pay and social protection for employees along the entire supply chain. This, in turn, could help businesses improve staff retention.
- Zero Hunger: Enough high-quality food should be produced through environmentally friendly farming. This ensures a healthy diet, which provides a stable basis for life.
- Health and Wellbeing: Businesses can do a lot to tackle diseases through innovation and grasp economic opportunities at the same time. Occupational health management improves the well-being of employees.
- Quality Education: Training programs help businesses recruit specialists using their own resources.
- Gender Equality: Equal pay improves the image of a business and makes employers attractive to all genders.
- Clean Water and Sanitation: Reducing water consumption and use of chemicals saves costs. Innovative wastewater treatment technologies contribute to adequate supply and protect groundwater.
- Affordable and Clean Energy: Climate-neutral energy sources reduce a business’ CO₂ footprint. Improving energy efficiency also saves costs in the long term.
- Dignified Work and Economic Growth: As many people as possible should share in economic growth and help improve it with their own consumption. This should be facilitated along the entire value chain. It improves the image of a company and its relationship with business partners.
- Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure: This includes future-oriented technologies for sustainable production of goods. These can come about through close cooperation between business and science.
- Reduced Inequalities: Businesses can have a positive influence on issues like diversity, inclusion, and integration, as well as equal pay, along their entire supply and value chain. This enhances employee satisfaction and therefore improves productivity.
- Sustainable Cities and Communities: Businesses have a range of solutions available to them for sustainable urban development. These could include transport concepts, affordable living spaces, or regulated waste disposal.
- Responsible Consumption and Production: Businesses can join the conversation and improve their image with resource-saving production, use of secondary raw materials, and by strengthening the circular economy.
- Climate Action: Businesses can contribute significantly to climate protection and climate resilience by reducing business or product-related greenhouse gases.
- Life Below Water: Plant and animal species in oceans, seas, and other waters benefit from more sustainable fishing, lower nutrient input from agriculture, and less plastic waste.
- Life on Land: Reducing the use of chemicals safeguards forest and agricultural areas in the long term. The aim is to decrease settlements and traffic in favour of fertile soil and biodiversity.
- Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions: Here, sustainability could mean peaceful conflict resolution both within a business and beyond. It also includes tackling corruption. Openly dealing with these and similar issues promotes open and transparent structures, which help build (public) trust.
- Partnerships for achieving the Goals: Businesses should work together with business partners or organisations that promote sustainability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals more effectively and efficiently.
Very few businesses will be able to achieve every Goal of the 2030 Agenda. Instead, they should focus on the points that they are able to implement. You can find out more about the Sustainable Development Goals and how to reach them in the SDG Guide for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises published by the Bavarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BIHK) e. V.
Agenda 2030: Goals may not be achieved
Despite its urgency, the call for the 2030 Agenda appears not to have been met with the required response. This became clear from the response to a question put forward by the AfD parliamentary group in the Bundestag, as the global project reaches its halfway point. Furthermore, a publication from mid-February 2023 states: “According to the Federal Government, the international community is currently not on track to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals agreed in the UN 2030 Agenda.”
For the second half of the project, the Federal Government expects recommendations for action in the new Global Sustainable Development Report, which should speed up efforts. To what extent businesses will benefit from the implementation is still unclear.