Earlier this month (December 2016) GivingForce attended the The Crowdevent, where the United Nations’ Global Goals clearly struck a chord with everyone in the room. I thought I’d share my perspective.
Joe Franses, Director of Coca-Cola European Partners, gave a captivating talk on the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for business. The public sector have shaped and supported what has now become the SDG initiative — even before they were implemented last year. The third sector quickly learned the value of SDG’s as advocacy tools for their own noble causes. There is a growing awareness in the private sector that implementation of SDGs can and should play a central role in what a responsible business does.
Sustainable development depends on the active engagement of both the public and private sectors. We expected the tone of discussion to begin with ‘if’ businesses should start working towards the Global Goals. However, the Crowd attendees jumped right in and asked how enterprises could work towards a healthier, fairer and better world.
Entrepreneurs who understand how their business can benefit from sustainable development initiatives — taking into account the importance of corporate social responsibility — will become more effective champions of the SDGs.
A report by risk management firm DNVGL regarding specific SDGs concluded “businesses of this kind are ready to take “extraordinary action” to help achieve the goals”. These businesses “see the SDGs as a way to achieve competitive advantage”. This is especially apparent when vying for the attention of millennials, for example. Millennials appear to have an intrinsic understanding of how important the SDGs are to the success of shared global objectives — they are value driven employees. A data driven report on business action and millennials by Corporate Citizenship states that “[They] believe in collaboration on multiple levels, both within and outside the private sector.”
Business culture of today and new generations will need to collaborate on many levels — one learning and growing from the other — a cross-generational effort to nurture corporate citizenship and shared values such as the SDGs. At the Crowd event, Sonja Graham explained how Global Action Planimplemented a value-driven schools program, which had a phenomenal effect on students’ feelings, giving them “greater appreciation of how they impact the environment and inspiring them to be sustainably responsible citizens”.
Altruism/philanthropy was once at the discretion of an individual — the answers to how the private sector can achieve success in the giving arena will ultimately define the chance of success of both the Global Goals and individual businesses.
Unsurprisingly, the importance of technology to achieve scale and reach expands into the success of the Sustainable Development Goals. At the Crowd’s plenary session, Joe Franses brought our attention to the UN’s official SDG in Action App, which allows users to browse, join and share actions that support the Global Goals. Similarly, GivingForce will launch its own app in 2017, which will allow employees to find, record and share their own volunteering activity. The creation and emergence of these apps shows that all citizens — be it of a school, business or planet earth — are looking for ways to get together and improve their local and global community.