A formula for environmental stewardship and prosperity
Today, 5 June, we celebrate World Environment Day and we take a small moment to remember the need in the world to pay more attention to caring for our ecosystems and fostering respect for nature.
And why is this so important?
Because the environment is the system of natural resources that surround us, from it we obtain all the basic elements we need to have a full life, it is our source of prosperity, and therefore, putting it at risk and depleting it, means compromising negatively our future and therefore our happiness.
“The first element of the environment is human happiness. If we want to have a future as human beings we must change the way we act and take care of our planet, which is the home where we live. We have nowhere to go if we destroy this home. Therefore, we have to take control of our destiny; at the moment it is not man who rules, but the forces unleashed by man. It is a political problem, globalisation governs man and not man governs globalisation”.
‒Ban-ki moon. Secretary-General of the United Nation.
But, since we mentioned human happiness as the first factor, let’s look at this fact. According to the World Happiness Report 2021 published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDN), the list of the happiest countries is headed by:
What do these countries have in common, what makes them top of the rankings? Simply put: a high quality of life.
It is here that we then ask ourselves, given what conditions or parameters could these nations have achieved such a feat? And the answer is: by rapidly meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) dictated by the UN in Agenda 2030.
What are the SDGs?
“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability to meet the needs of future generations”.
‒Our Common Future – UN Report
To understand this, let’s talk about the 2030 Agenda, an action plan approved by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015 that seeks to ensure the economic, social and environmental well-being of the 193 member states of the United Nations. It is the roadmap that will guide the work of the entire international community over the next 15 years in order to strengthen universal peace and access to justice globally.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are specific goals that are set within the 2030 agenda to achieve the goal described above. Their importance lies in the fact that they represent the basic principles that must be followed in order to eradicate the major problems that society currently suffers from, including extreme poverty and environmental pollution.
It must be understood that in order to truly have a sustainable effect on nations, each of these specific goals must be equally valued and adhered to, because if one of them falters, the balance is lost, and without balance nothing is sustainable.
What are the 17 UN SDGs?
Goal 1: End poverty
According to World Bank figures, about 33% of the world’s population remains poor, which means that according to the MASLOW pyramid more than 2.3 billion people are living at basic levels of biological needs. Therefore, in order to end poverty, it is essential to promote inclusive economic growth, which promotes equal employment for all social strata.
Goal 2: End hunger
The food and agriculture sector offers key solutions for economic development and is vital for the elimination of hunger and poverty.
Goal 3: Ensure health and well-being
Ensuring healthy lives and promoting universal well-being for all ages is fundamental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Goal 4: Ensure quality education
Education is the basis for improving our lives, not only because it contributes to economic development, but also because through education society can acquire the knowledge necessary to avoid being manipulated and make conscious and better decisions.
Goal 5: Achieve Gender Equality
Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but the necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.
Goal 6: Ensure availability of water, its sustainable management and sanitation.
Accessibility to water free from impurities is a fundamental and non-negotiable human right that must be equally accessible to all.
Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, safe, sustainable and modern energy
Energy is central to almost all the major challenges and opportunities facing the world today.
Goal 8: Promote sustained economic growth and decent job opportunities
We must reflect on this slow and uneven progress and review our economic and social policies aimed at eradicating poverty.
Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote industries and innovation
Investments in infrastructure are key to achieving sustainable development.
Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and between countries
As we all know, no two countries offer the same advantages in terms of health, economic and social opportunities. Cultures and governments have, depending on how we compare, great inequalities. For example, someone born in Uganda does not have anywhere near the same facilities as someone born in the United States. This is something that needs to change, that no one’s place of birth should be a condemnation.
Goal 11: Build inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and settlements
If there is one thing great cities excel at, it is enabling people to progress both socially and economically. That is why it is important that they are safe, inclusive, resilient and sustainable spaces.
Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Irresponsible consumption can have serious consequences for the environment. To avoid this, production systems need to respect their environment, to take care to protect nature and thus mitigate the consequences of climate change. The goal is to do more while spending less.
Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
The environmental crisis is seen as one of the major global threats today, and one that is steadily weakening the planet’s ecosystems. Air is polluted, vital sources of natural resources are lost and damaged, animals are stripped of their habitats, and the livelihoods of all forms of life are generally disrupted. Even the International Psychoanalytical Society now recognises climate change as “The greatest threat to mental health in the 21st century”.
Goal 14: Conserving life and resources in marine areas
The oceans are a source of life and an important channel for transport and trade, yet pollution and acidification are wreaking havoc on their ecosystems. Regulatory plans are needed to limit overfishing and the multiplication of pollutants such as plastic.
Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems
Forests and trees are essential elements that will help combat the malicious effects of greenhouse gases that threaten the stability of the global ecosystem. Expanding them and protecting them from fires and massive logging will help preserve the planet’s environmental balance.
Goal 16: Achieve peace, justice and the building of accountable and effective institutions at all levels
Peace must be equal for all, without discrimination. The key is for governments to learn to legislate correctly, and to set more effective standards that always ensure the rights of all people, children, women and men alike.
Goal 17: Partnerships to achieve the goals
Simply setting out a plan is not enough; it requires the collaboration of all actors in power to make the dream a reality. Not only governments, but also citizens and private companies must together commit their efforts and resources to the cause.
Understanding this last objective is fundamental; with it, the UN is holding us all accountable. Doing our bit, within our means, either as companies or citizens, without relying solely on government administration, is what will ultimately allow us to evolve as a society and achieve the longed-for prosperity.
How can business contribute to the 17 SDGs?
All companies play a leading role in sustainability development. Depending on their actions, how they manage their business and service delivery, they can have both positive and negative outcomes. One of the starting points to begin to comply with the 17 SDGs is that companies try to avoid abusing natural and social resources in a way that compromises the possibility and quality of life on the planet.
Once this has been ensured, initiatives, activities and projects must be implemented to bring the community closer to meeting the goals.
For this, it is important to have a good knowledge of the performance areas of our companies, as this will allow us to know in what way we can collaborate more.
“Companies can contribute through their core business activity, so we call on companies around the world to assess their impact, set ambitious targets and transparently communicate their results”.
‒Ban-ki moon. Secretary-General of the United Nations
Here are a couple of good ideas to help you bring a smile to the world:
Develop innovative technologies to increase energy efficiency, or develop new working protocols to save energy costs. In this way we collaborate with Obj. 13
To carry out philanthropic actions, unrelated to the company’s activities, through which we seek to contribute to the improvement of social and environmental conditions in the environments in which the company operates or not. Example: The creation of foundations. This method makes it possible to cover many objectives, to mention a few: Obj. 3, 4 and 6
Guarantee your employees a legal and fair contract. Make them feel that they have a common project with the company that motivates them to fight and improve. This is a way to fulfil Obj. 5 and 8.
Spain’s performance and the Agenda 2030
According to the latest Sustainable Development Report, Spain is ranked 22nd in the world, with a cumulative score of (78.11).
It has more than 60% compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially in Obj. 3 (health and well-being), Obj. 8 (decent work and economic growth), and Obj. 16 (peace, justice and stable institutions), while Obj. 13 (climate action) is the most neglected.
Taking these data into account, we can see that there is progress, that a good path is being followed, but that we must continue to look for improvement and focus on one of the tasks that most demands attention in Spain, climate change.
The climate situation in Spain now represents a challenge, but also a valuable opportunity for thousands of companies to take action and make their mark in search of solutions and new alternatives. If you want to align your company’s goals with these 17 objectives and become a sustainable business, not only in the world, but specifically in Spain, get advice from us at tas-consultoría.com/en.