The SDGs Explained for Business

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 new 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.

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All Companies Can Play a Role

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.

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How the UN Global Compact Helps

Through our Making Global Goals Local Business campaign, we are spreading the word that companies that do business responsibly and find opportunities to innovate around sustainability will be the business leaders of tomorrow. To move from awareness to action, the UN Global Compact offers participants an extensive toolbox including next-generation solutions platforms, an online UN Business Action Hub and resources that will help your business take action to achieve the SDGs.

While the SDGs are universal, they will very much be addressed at the national level. As countries establish and enact national plans for achieving the SDGs, the Global Compact’s Local Networks in over 85 countries provide the platform for business to engage with stakeholders from Government, the UN, civil society and communities to map a shared approach.

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