Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith / Panos Pictures / DFID
A Global Plan for People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace
Over the past 15 years, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have provided a vital framework and focal point for driving progress against poverty and other development challenges faced by the world’s most vulnerable. World leaders are now coming together again to formally adopt the 2030 Agenda, including a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which set out an even more ambitious and universal set of global development priorities for the next 15 years. Unlike the Millennium Development Goals, their successors are an integrated set of universal goals, applying to all countries, aiming at mobilising all stakeholders and, especially, the business community. They integrate sustainable and inclusive economic growth and the sustainable management of natural resources with the top priority of ending poverty in all its different forms, in every context, leaving no one behind.
The 2030 Agenda is set to deliver a rights-based agenda for People, to end poverty and hunger in all their forms and dimensions; an agenda for protecting the Planet, our common home, from degradation, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change; an agenda for Prosperity, to ensure that all human beings are included and can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives in harmony with nature; an agenda for Peace, to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence. And an agenda to work together, to mobilize the means required for implementation through a revitalised Global Partnership for Sustainable Development with the participation of all countries, all stakeholders and all people. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and their targets that are at the core of the 2030 Agenda are also an action plan. Their implementation, which should be done in an integrated manner, will deliver on this transformative vision for people, for planet, for prosperity, for peace and for partnering together.
Alongside this practical set of integrated goals, targets and is the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAA), which provides a concrete plan of action to resource and implement the Goals. The AAA acknowledges that the role and responsibilities of the private sector will be essential to meeting the SDGs, through the creation of sustainable, productive employment and economic prosperity, investment in essential infrastructure and innovations that create opportunities for the poor as both producers and consumers. At the same time, businesses are being encouraged to commit to investments in areas critical to development, and to move towards more socially and environmentally sustainable and responsible practices. More importantly, the SDGs will also provide a compass and an important yardstick against which businesses can align their own key performance indicators and measure the impact of their own policies and practices, and align their sustainability strategies with international priorities. In this way, business can be architects and builders of sustainable development and social inclusion, creating shared value and entering into a new era of corporate sustainability as the business-as-usual.
Both developed and developing countries will also have to do their part and commit to good governance, rule of law and the fight against corruption in order to provide an enabling environment conducive to genuine partnerships which will help realise the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Turning words in to action is not going to be easy and collaboration is going to be key to success. Leaders across sectors now recognise that the challenges are too great and too systemic for any one of them to tackle alone and that mobilising more resources for the SDGs will require continuing and closer public – private collaboration, increasingly through multi-stakeholder partnerships. Perhaps one of the greatest determinants of our success will be our ability to redefine what we mean by partnership and move towards a form of collaboration that truly integrates visions, values, accountability, resources and knowledge sharing. A new vision of partnerships that are principled, people-centred and planet sensitive If we can achieve this, I believe we can ensure that these latest set of development goals can become our last.
I welcome the new report, by Business Fights Poverty and Harvard Kennedy School’s CSR Initiative, which sets out practical examples of how the private sector can contribute to the achievement of the SDGs, and identifies the roles all sectors need to play to create the essential conditions for success at scale in every community and country the world over.