Businesses ‘can lead on global goals’

Businesses have a $12trn opportunity in their response to the challenges set by the UN’s global goals, a London conference heard last week – with the UK government and its agencies still lagging behind on meeting the objectives by the target date of 2030.

Steve-MalkinThe 17 global goals – aka the sustainable development goals – were agreed in 2015, by leaders of 193 countries worldwide looking to end extreme poverty, inequality, injustice and the threat of climate change by 2030.

The ‘business and the global goals’ conference, organised by Eden Project-backed sustainable certification business The Planet Mark, brought together 150 leaders from business, government and environmental campaign bodies to discuss the business response to the challenges ahead.

At the event, The Planet Mark identified seven global goals that businesses “can address without delay in 2018”. It said that its sustainability certification “measurably contributes” to businesses addressing those seven goals.

Planet Mark founder Steve Malkin (pictured) set out how the evidence-based data collected through its programme could help businesses holding the TPM certification to contribute to:

Goal 7 – Affordable and clean energy
Goal 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
Goal 11 – Sustainable cities
Goal 12 – Sustainable consumption and production
Goal 13 – Climate action
Goal 14 – Life below water
Goal 15 – Life on land.

The Business Commission has estimated that the goals represent a $12trn economic opportunity – if they transform their models to meet the goals by 2030.

“Action pays off and is good for business,” Malkin said last week. “Momentum has been building within the business community to take action over the last two years. But latest evidence suggests those efforts could be falling short due to a lack of meaningful and measurable action.”

Malkin highlighted the Planet Mark’s free tool to help businesses to map out their progress on the global goals.

Louise Scott, global sustainability chief operating officer at PwC UK, pointed to research showing that 40% of businesses are either ignoring or having no meaningful engagement with the goals. But she said “companies that have their objectives aligned with the global goals are outperforming the rest of the market”.

global-goals-full-icons.png__2318x1180_q85_crop_subsampling-2_upscaleMary Creagh MP, chair of the environmental audit committee, said government was “failing” to take a leadership role on the goals, so businesses had “a moral duty” to align with them.

Piers Bradford, managing director of the UN-backed Project Everyone awareness campaign, urged businesses to act, saying that sustainable business could move quicker than government.

Gail Gallie, leading Project Everyone’s digital engagement effort, joins DigitalAgenda at its Impact Awards event on March 7. She’ll explain how she is engaging the UK digital business community to help it unlock $2.1tn in extra annual revenue for the tech sector by 2030.

Last week’s Planet Mark event, hosted at legal firm Linklaters, was held in partnership with the Legal Sustainability Alliance.