At Tulodo we are often asked what role the private sector should play in addressing social issues and achieving sustainable development. It’s been only a year and a half since the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a set of targets to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. For the SDGs, which replaced the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there are 17 ambitious goals to transform the world and each has specific targets to be achieved by 2030.
Figure 1: 17 goals to transform the world
Our question is: can the private sector accelerate achievement of the SDGs?
If you ask this question of a business person, a common response is often another question, “what’s in it for the private sector?” And it’s a valid one, not just from a profit perspective but from an understanding of how workers are employed and consumers served. But it’s clear that both poverty and prosperity affect business. And accessing new markets benefits the bottom line. What’s needed is a supportive ecosystem and government policies to enable the private sector to contribute to the implementation of the SDGs.
Businesses also need to align their business objectives with the SDGs to focus on the elements of the SDGs appropriate and relevant to their organizations. Companies can provide capital but profit incentives must also be developed. And while money is important, businesses also bring other resources, such as technology, marketing and creative approaches to problem solving. Businesses small, medium and large can play a role.
We need to connect these dots. Everyone needs to do their part to achieve the SDGs: government, private sector, community organizations, and even individuals. Even though we are still in the early implementation stages for the SDGs, we need to develop comprehensive strategies, e.g., partnerships, funding and robust evaluation of progress made and challenges faced.
One of the platforms created by the UN to support the achievement of the SDGs is the Global Compact. The UN Global Compact aims to mobilize a global movement of sustainable companies and stakeholders to create a better world. The UN Global Compact supports companies to do business responsibly by aligning their strategies and operations with Ten Principles on human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. It helps them take action to advance broader societal goals, such as the UN SDGs, with an emphasis on collaboration and innovation.
What can we do in our own companies and communities? At the organization level, we can use our skills, expertise and resources to develop projects that contribute to the achievement of the SDGs and have positive social impact on the community. Here at Tulodo, we are using the experience and resources gained through our project management and consulting work to develop a new health service for young people in Indonesia. We’ll partner with technical partners, community organizations and funders to make it a success.
If we can connect the dots on these and many other partnerships, hopefully by 2030 we will have ended extreme poverty and increased prosperity for all. Are you or your company involved in social issues like those addressed by the SDGs? Share your story and inspire others to take action!