In September 2015, all 193 Member States of the United Nations adopted a plan for achieving a better future for all — laying out a path over the next 15 years to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and protect our planet. At the heart of “Agenda 2030” are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which clearly define the world we want — applying to all nations and leaving no one behind.
The Global Goals result from a process that has been more inclusive than ever, with Governments involving business, civil society and citizens from the outset. We are all in agreement on where the world needs to go. Fulfilling these ambitions will take an unprecedented effort by all sectors in society — and business has to play a very important role in the process.
Responsible business and investment – rooted in universal principles – will be essential to achieving transformational change through the SDGs. We cannot achieve the ambition of the SDGs without business leadership. For companies, successful implementation will strengthen the enabling environment for doing business and building markets around the world.
No matter how large or small, and regardless of their industry, all companies can contribute to the SDGs. While the scale and scope of the global goals is unprecedented, the fundamental ways that business can contribute remain unchanged. The UN Global Compact asks companies to first do business responsibly and then pursue opportunities to solve societal challenges through business innovation and collaboration.
Global challenges – ranging from climate, water and food crises, to poverty, conflict and inequality – are in need of solutions that the private sector can deliver, representing a large and growing market for business innovation. In the rush to transform business models and systems for the future, integrity and values will have a huge role to play. For companies wanting to advance the SDG agenda, the job starts by acting responsibly – incorporating the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact widely into strategies and operations, and understanding that good practices or innovation in one area cannot make up for doing harm in another.