Sustainable Development Goals for Business

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This week, the Addis Abeba Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association and DI, The Confederation of Danish Industry, organised a two days conference to discuss the Sustainable Development Goals in the light of doing business. In other words, turning the SDGs from Paper into Practice, as the conference was subtitled, and looking at opportunities for business to engage in achieving the goals.
The private sector is now recognised as a key player in the economic and social development of the country, while at the same time responsible for a sustainable use of resources to effectively and efficiently produce goods and provide their services. As Mrs. Mesenbet Shenkute, President of the Addis Chamber stated, we as private sector operators must engage as partners in the development process and invest in areas, critical to sustainable development and adopt sustainable production and consumption processes, developing the right skills and creating decent and durable jobs along the way. And while pursuing long term economic and social development and environmental management, this can be done in a profitable way. Mr. Getachew Regassa, Secretary General of the Addis Chamber, emphasises that a vibrant and responsible private sector is crucial for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals and that achieving them is based on collaborative efforts by all parties in society, i.e. businesses, non-governmental organizations and the government.
Dr. Temesgen Tilahun carried out a mapping exercise on the SDGs in Ethiopia and shared his findings during the conference. He concludes that although there are many activities implemented that relate to the social, economic and environmental dimensions of the SDGs there are limitations in directly linking them. It was observed that there are limitations in understanding, linking, coordinating, integrating, systematizing, financing, planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating SDG practices and experiences in general and more so in the private sector. Awareness creation is therefor key as well as coordination so that all stakeholders and actors can play their role more effectively.
The initiative taken by the Addis Chamber and DI, to convene this conference was therefor a strategic step in order to create awareness about the SDGs amongst the business community but also to recognise the opportunities that there are for the private sector to engage in achieving the SDG results in a truly corporate responsible way.
Now, the sustainable development goals go beyond the business sector and will be achieved most effectively by a coordinated multi-sector approach. They are the following:
Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere; Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture; Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages; Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all; Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all; Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all; Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation; Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries; Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns; Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts; Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development; Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss; Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels; Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.
These are ambitious goals to achieve by 2030, only 11 years from now but they contain many opportunities for business to engage. Whether we will be on the right track to achieve them will all depend on the way we go about development and whether or not we indeed embrace sustainability as an outcome and a practice. If not, we will go about our business as usual and fail miserably.