UN SDG: Our World’s Ultimate “Bottom Line”
Disastrous consequences linked to global warming is the ultimate bottom line, not just for business, but for all humanity. That conclusion has put global business on a converging course, partnering the United Nations’ in its Sustainable Development Goals.
The Odd Couple
By 2030 the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to sustainably grow the world economy out of hunger and poverty by tackling economic and social inequalities by achieving universal health, education and access to clean water. But the UN is not a profit-making business corporation; it is reliant on cash-strapped governments for funding for its ambitions. However, in what some may see as an unlikely collaboration, the UN has won support from some of the world’s most successful businesses that may, traditionally, have been dismissive of the UN’s goals for sustainability. The UN and business have recognised that by relying on the efficient, business-driven skills of corporations they can together achieve better and faster results than a those a lumbering, resource-starved, quasi-government bureaucracy alone.
"The UN embraces the energy and enterprise of global corporations at the time business has concluded that sustainability cannot only profit their bottom lines, but also our Planet."
“Liberty and Justice for All”
But while the goals of the UN and business may be shared, misaligned communication poses a threat to the process: as Walter Macnee, vice-chairman of the credit card giant, MasterCard, told a UN panel: “It’s really important that the public and private sector can talk to each other. But to do that we need trust and a language we can all understand.” By bridging any communications gap the UN and its business partners are seeking to reverse such monumental challenges as the deep deficits in peace, justice and the absence of strong institutions afflicting much of the developing world. Supporters of the SDGs recognise that only by giving ordinary people stability, process and the tools of power will they be able to challenge, confront and take control of their worlds; worlds threatened and impoverished by climate and environmental degradation. These vulnerabilities bring into sharp focus the main objective of the programme – sustainable development through developing sustainably - to protect lives and resources.
Business acknowledges that things can’t go on as they are: profiting from the exploitation of non-renewable resources and disregarding any environmental damage that may result. But this sea-change has not resulted from environmentalists and activist pressure alone. Companies have also been influenced by their staff, customers and other stakeholders who have been volubly communicating that to have a truly sustainable business you need to jettison the old business model. The UN recognises that the vehicle for its SDGs is economic growth driven by industry, innovation and infrastructure. It is therefore embracing the energy and enterprise of global corporations at the time business has concluded that sustainability cannot only profit their bottom lines, but also our Planet.