By only looking at the media headlines people can understand the width of the conflicts the Earth is facing: “Rainforest on fire”, “Three massacres in 12 days”, “Water crisis because of drought conditions”. The global problems we are facing need immediate action, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
In 2015, the United Nations implemented the Agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with 17 global problems that should be tackled immediately. The targets include poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice.
But the Agenda is far from being just a collection of good intentions. Instead, it implements concrete aims supported by measurements of the actions taken to tackle the issues and subsequent adjustments to achieve better results. By compromising to the Agenda, humanity assumed a huge challenge: to end poverty and famine, boost access to health, education and jobs, while protecting our planet from environmental degradation.
However, the question remains after four years, are we getting closer to build a more sustainable world? Some progress has been made, the global population is living better lives than they did a decade ago and infant mortality has declined. However, there is still a lot of work to do.
Unfortunately, factors such as armed conflicts, climate crisis, gender-based violence and inequalities undermine efforts to achieve the goals. For example, it appears that no country is on track to achieve the goal of gender equality. As the goals should be accomplished in a specific order, none of subsequent goals will be achieved. What is even worse: the gap is widening.
So far almost 500 million people could still be living in extreme poverty. Therefore, such an alarming situation requires the international community to step up efforts and make advancements on the goals much faster and at a greater scale. In order to leave no one behind, it is important that each goal and target is achieved by 2030.
Everyone from school children to workers, institutions and beyond
Considering the huge challenge the 17 UN goals imply the best course of action would be to align strategies on three actors: the public and the private sector, and civil society. Recently, the UN authorities stated that the 2030 Agenda is coming to life. Mainly because national authorities, companies and people in general are integrating the aims on a daily basis.
This is a compromise we need to assume collectively. Gradually, people of all ages are beginning to get involved in global issues. Not only by small changes at the individual level, such as recycling. Moreover, people go one step further and attend mass walkouts and climate change protests. Furthermore, there is a growing tendency of stakeholders demanding companies to express their views upon social issues, like immigration and climate change.
Non-governmental organizations also joined the challenge. For instance, Electriciens sans frontières have been committedly working to provide clean water, sanitation and affordable green energy to isolated or damaged places of the planet. Not only is their contribution significant because they have been able to help thousands of communities around the globe, as well as 95% of their projects use renewable energies. Therefore, their efforts to fight against climate change and to tackle the pressing social and environmental issues around the globe did not go unnoticed. Recently, the United Nations conferred them the Climate Action Award for their vital role in Dominica. In 2018, the island was demolished after Category-5 storm hurricane Maria made landfall.
The private sector is also putting their cards on the table. In terms of responsible use and protection of the natural environment, companies are a key factor at a time of raising awareness. Just now companies took up the challenge of investing a big sum of money in the implementation of sustainable measures and compromising to an efficient use of resources, logistics flows and responsible waste management.
Prysmian Group is one of the companies that have implemented sustainability as a key factor of their business model. The organisation defined sustainability targets for 2020, based on the SDGs. Which call for the reduction of energy consumption and cutting greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) at Group level. In addition to that, they implemented the Prysmian’s Sustainability Risk Model: A common methodology to asses climate change. Some of the risks analysed are water shortage, the increase in sea level and the change in temperatures.
In other to tackle the problem of plastic waste, the Group launched its “Plastic Free” pilot project in May, eliminating all single use plastic at its Milan headquarters. This means over 700,000 less plastic items each year, making their contribution to the growing problem of plastic waste. “This project is another important step forward on our path to becoming a more sustainable company,” says Andrea Pirondini, Chief Operating Officer. “We believe that simple everyday actions can create and strengthen a culture of sustainability, helping to protect our planet. That’s why, in the coming months, we will extend the plastic free model adopted by our Milan headquarters to other places in the Group as well.”
Recently, worldwide leaders assumed the challenge of doubling the efforts by taking ambitious actions to achieve the goals as soon as possible. Therefore, the Member States committed to mobilizing funding, improving national implementation and strengthening institutions to reach goals on time and leave nothing behind.
The 17 goals are an ambitious initiative that can transform the world, which seeks to increase prosperity and ensure the well-being of all, while protecting the environment. In order to make this work, it is fundamental that all humanity gets involved. Are you in?