Big-name businesses jointly pledge $500,000 to spur action on SDGs

A group of nine corporations, including oil and gas giant BP and professional services firm Deloitte, have collectively pledged to invest $500,000 into projects which aim to accelerate global progress on one or more on the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As part of a new initiative called Lead2030 and led by UK-based non-profit One Young World, each of the companies will invest $50,000 in a project which is already working to address a Global Goal related to that firm’s sector.

BP, for example, will select a scheme hoping to address SDG 7: Affordable & Clean Energy, while multinational paper and pulp business Mondi Group will choose from programmes driving progress on SDG 12: Responsible Consumption & Production.

To receive funding, the programmes must be founded by someone aged 18-30 and already making a “tangible” impact on their selected SDGs. Success in some categories will also require the project to be scalable and financially viable – with or without the funding.

The nine businesses taking part are RB, AstraZeneca, Deloitte, Credit Suisse, BP, Standard Chartered, Mondi Group, KPMG and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Unlocking opportunity

One Young World co-founder Kate Robertson said that by pledging the investment, the corporates are “doing the right thing” ethically while “doing the smart thing for their business”.

“The Global Goals will not be achieved without ambitious and meaningful contributions from leaders across every sector of society,” Robinson said at a One Young World event in Holland on Monday (23 October).

“With 380 million jobs predicted to be created by achieving the SDGs, and $12trn unlocked in market opportunities, the business case for accelerating progress on the Global Goals is clear.”

The launch of Lead2030 comes shortly after UN research revealing that there is currently a $2.5trn “investment gap” between the level of funding currently earmarked for clean growth in developing countries and the amount needed to achieve all 17 SDGs in full.

Similarly, recent research from infrastructure organisation Global Infrastructure Hub found that infrastructure investments totalling £470bn are needed across 10 African countries in order to enable SDG national commitments.

Business action

Of the 200 sustainability professionals the edie team surveyed for its inaugural Mission Possible report earlier this year, more than two-thirds said that aligning the Global Goals with their organisation’s core purpose would be the crucial factor in bridging the gap between SDG alignment and action.

And more recently, a survey of 158 corporates by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and Radley Yeldar this week found that 89% acknowledged the SDGs in their latest sustainability report, with 53% mapping their actions across the goals.

Among the big-name companies to have aligned their sustainability strategies with the SDGs in recent times are property developer Canary Wharf Group – which is striving to create the world’s first “SDG-compliant” micro-city, home improvement retailer Kingfisher and beverage giant Pernod Ricard.

But despite all the positive ambition, several other recent reports have argued that a huge proportion of firms to have made SDG pledges have not yet set any measurable targets related to the Goals, nor are they monitoring progress against them.

For companies that are still attempting to engage with the Global Goals, edie has published a two-part, roundtable feature detailing the insights of 13 sustainability experts. Read part one of the SDG Engagement feature here.

edie has also produced an insight report which provides clear, practical steps that can be taken by sustainability and CSR professionals to embed the SDGs within their organisation’s business strategy. Download the Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: A Blueprint for Business Leadership report here.

Sarah George

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