The United Nations had ushered in an ambitious set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2016 with an aim to eradicate social ills over a period of 15 years. As we coast along 2020 preparing ourselves for the New Normal, it’s time to take a look at the challenges to be addressed and what we can do as we step towards a decade of delivery.
17 goals and 169 targets set the tone for a global partnership to ensure environmental sustainability, eliminate hunger and poverty, improve health, and achieve primary education along with several other people-centred global goals. Speaking of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “The seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are our shared vision of humanity and a social contract between the world’s leaders and the people.” In his own words, it was a to-do list for people and the planet, and a blueprint for success.
A digital climate clock recently unveiled in Manhattan’s Union Square in New York City has put the focus on how rapidly we are approaching a total climate collapse. Gan Golan, Co-Creator of Climate Clock explains, “Different countries and different communities may have different roles, but we all have to be on the same timeline. The world is literally counting on us. Every hour, every minute, every second, count.”
The unprecedented crisis that we are currently facing due to COVID-19 has come as a sudden jolt and businesses will have to work harder and dedicate the next decade to action to achieve the SDGs.
Immediate steps must be taken to:
- Increase investment to ensure risk management and preparedness for sustainable development
- Explore and adopt digital technologies
- Prioritize and strategize to set realistic targets and build development pathways
- Ensure responsible consumption of natural resources, reduce waste arising from supply chains, choose environment-friendly chemicals for manufacturing and integrate information pertaining to sustainability practices in reporting cycles
- Introduce recycling and environmental stewardship within organizations to encourage the practice of reduce, reuse and recycle among employees
- Adopting green HRM practices globally
- Encourage collaborative effort between the government and private & public sectors
Organizations worldwide need to pull up their socks to change practices and adopt greener initiatives to curtail water usage and manage waste. As we move towards greater eco-consciousness, the modern consumer is pretty keen on ensuring that their favourite brands are doing the right things while being in business. Coca Cola for example in keeping pace with its “World Without Waste” initiatives collects a bottle or can for every single one that is sold across the globe.
There are simple changes each one of us can make at an individual level. These are a few you may want to consider at home and outside.
Home is where eco-consciousness begins – You can use a common power strip for appliances so that they can all be turned off to minimize standby power consumption. Choose air-drying over dryers for drying clothes or hair. Make sure the washing machine runs on a full load; and go paperless if you haven’t already chosen e-bills and e-statements over their paper counterparts. Last but not the least, do increase your efforts towards reuse and recycle. Say no to that dress you don’t need, that pair of shoes which can wait and those myriad shopping items that serve no purpose eventually except elevating your sense of self-worth albeit only temporarily.
On social media – Ensure your social media is not just for posting selfies and delectable dinners but also plays its part in raising awareness about women empowerment, gender equality, and education. From posting educational content iterating SDG facts and figures to sharing inspirational stories about people and organizations that are furthering SDGs, you can make your social media account a platform of enlightenment. If you have a large network, you may also consider starting a fundraiser or hosting a challenge to promote SDGs and their crusaders.
On the go – Shop closer to home, opt for carpooling when possible, eat local foods, donate items like books, clothes and furniture you don’t need, and take care of your health. If walking is an option, ditch the car. Also, work on implementing sustainable at-work initiatives to rethink and reboot work for the betterment of everyone.
Now would be a perfect time to reset priorities and do what’s best for our planet and community. A little consciousness is all we need to become the #changemakers the world can look up to. Only then can we join forces to realise the SDGs in this decade of delivery.