It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that sustainable business was focused on hitting 2020 targets, but with the COVID-19 pandemic and turbulent political and economic times, there have been significant changes, revisions, and the emergence of new sustainability development goals for companies across the world to aim for.
As part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UN has stated that global carbon dioxide emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 (from 2010 levels) and reach net-zero by 2050.
Vision 2050 is a framework set out by the WBCSD that is aligned with the UN SDGs and Paris Agreement and focuses on nine transformative pathways that will help businesses accelerate their sustainable transformations and reach these new targets.
Why Do the Sustainability Development Goals Keep Changing?
Changing the world for a more sustainable future isn’t an easy undertaking, and with the global scope of the endeavour, there is always going to be setbacks, changes, and adjustments that need to be made – especially when there is so much unpredictability in governmental, legislative, and physical requirements.
The UN SDGs for example, started out in 2012 (developed at the UN Sustainable Development Conferenced held in Rio de Janeiro), and have been evolved and developed over the last ten years, integrating the plans with Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting and the frameworks that have developed around them.
How Can You Keep Up with the Goalpost Changes?
It can be difficult to keep your business on-track when you’re not sure what you’re supposed to be aiming for, so it’s important that businesses make time to keep abreast of the latest news and follow the sustainable development plans that are being implemented by governments, industry leaders, and individuals of authority.
As more legislation and legal responsibility is created and pushed towards businesses, it’s going to become increasingly more important that C-Suite Executives and CEOs keep themselves aware of what is going on in their industry – although these changes and goals are evolving and developing all the time, they retain their core focus on a cleaner, greener, and more socially conscious future, and consumers are reacting positively to businesses who drive these aims into the core of their operations.
What are the Current Sustainable Goals?
The UN SDGs are a series of 17 targeted goals, with a targeted timeframe of 2030 for implementation. Each goal has its own metrics and measurements, and plans for actioning. The goals are:
- No Poverty
- Zero Hunger
- Good Health and Well-Being
- Quality Education
- Gender Equality
- Clean Water and Sanitation
- Affordable and Clean Energy
- Decent Work and Economic Growth
- Industry Innovation and Infrastructure
- Reduced Inequalities
- Sustainable Cities and Communities
- Responsible Consumption and Production
- Climate Action
- Life Below Water
- Life on Land
- Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
- Partnership for the Goals
Depending on the industry, and the company involved, individual targets and goals are generated but in general, the majority of large industries are aiming to achieve, by 2050:
- Lower emissions
- Increased investing in renewable energy
- Net Zero on Greenhouse Gases
- Reduce or eliminate wastewater
- Improve water quality
- Reduce wastage and the amount of waste sent to landfills
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There is still a lot of work to be done at every level of industry, from the smallest of self-employed individuals to the largest of multinational corporations; and time is already running out – if we don’t make significant, long-lasting, and socially responsible changes to the way we operate our businesses, we are soon going to reach the point of permanent damage and no return.
It might sound like a long amount of time (2030 or 2050), but in the grand scheme of business, it really isn’t. When you think how long it takes to make a material change, and have it filter through a single company, then multiply that on a global scale – we’re already cutting a fine line. But we owe it to ourselves, and humankind of the future, to take up the challenge – and devote ourselves to making this world and its finite resources be the best that they can possibly be, for as long as they possibly can.