Business Avengers: Corporate giants assemble to deliver SDGs

A new "Business Avengers" coalition of 17 global corporates - including Unilever, Nike and Google - worth more than $500bn in revenue has been launched to make 2020 a year of activism to highlight how businesses can amplify actions to help hit the targets of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Business Avengers: Corporate giants assemble to deliver SDGs

Research suggests that the SDGs may not be achieved until 2073

Announced on the four-year anniversary of the ratification of the SDGs, (25 September) the Business Avengers is represented by corporates with more than 90,000 employees collectively. The coalition will work to highlight the role that businesses can play in achieving the SDGs by 2030.

The companies involved are: Arm, Avanti Communications, The Coca-Cola Company, Commvault, Diageo,, Mars Inc, Mastercard, Microsoft Corp., Nike, RB, SAP, Salesforce and Unilever.

To build momentum, Project Everyone, Action for Sustainable Development (A4SD), Restless Development, SDG Action Campaign, the UN, and UN Foundation are calling on citizens, businesses, and leaders to make 2020 a year of action and activism that is focused on the Goals.

Project Everyone’s co-founder Richard Curtis said: “We’ve made some progress but nowhere near enough to deliver on the promises made by all nations in 2015. It is now mission-critical to inspire and engage the world to set the path for a decade of delivery. That means campaigning for major global policy breakthroughs, sparking ever-greater local and regional activism, and creating cultural moments that break into the mainstream and re-energize action to fight poverty, inequality and the climate crisis.

“Above all, it means joining forces, from young activists to global companies, and we hope that the launch of the “Business Avengers” shows this today, because together we can and must achieve the Goals.”

2030 or 2073?

With 10 years left to deliver the Global Goals, 2020 is viewed as a make or break year for key actions and targets related to gender, inequality, climate, ecosystems democracy and civic space.

Unfortunately, progress to date suggests that the SDGs will not be delivered in the next 10 years.

The 2019 Social Progress Index (SPI), compiled by the Social Progress Imperative – a US-based non-profit – ranks 149 countries’ social performance over a six-year period (2014-2019). The data, published last week, revealed that the world is underperforming on eight out of 12 major sections of the SPI. Based on this new data, the SPI forecasts the world will not meet the SDGs 2030 target until 2073.

According to the report, targets related to personal rights are suffering a decline; 91 of the 149 ranked countries recorded a fall in rights, with freedoms of religion and expression deteriorating the most. The global average score dropped from 65.61/100 in 2014 to 61.44/100 in 2019. 

That isn’t to say that steps haven’t been taken to champion the SDGs. The Council of the European Union (EU) is urging the bloc and its member states to place the SDG framework at the heart of their national and international environmental and economic strategies.

The World Bank has also raised €1.5bn for a new 10-year bond focused on mobilising action towards achieving the Goals.

At a business level, 13 of the world’s biggest corporates have collectively generated $233bn of revenue by aligning strategies and creating new targets that focus on the SDGs.

Matt Mace

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