Now that we are celebrating 3 years since the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals, it is worth doing some reminiscing. Many will remember the Millennium Development Goals that were launched in 2000 and took us to 2015. Undoubtedly, those Millennium Goals should be the main source of inspiration and evidence to know what works and what does not.
By way of summary, we can take a sentence from the Final Report that was produced in 2015, when the Millennium Development Goals were coming to an end.
It was with this bittersweet feeling that we arrived at 2015. We were happy with the progress made, but despairing about the long road ahead.
Something similar could be said today of the Sustainable Development Goals. Three years after their launch, the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018The United Nations' global progress report tells us that while people are generally living better lives than they did a decade ago, progress in ensuring that no one is left behind has not been fast enough to meet the 2030 Agenda's targets. In fact, the global rate of progress is failing to keep pace with the Agenda to meet its ambitions; immediate and accelerated action is needed by countries and stakeholders at all levels. In other words, if we carry on like this, the 2015 sentence I mentioned above will most likely be repeated in 2030.
In fact, based on the projections being made, it does not appear that the SDGs will be a success, despite the progress being made.
I sincerely hope that this is not the case. The children who are 8 years old now will be 20 years old then, and the truth is that thinking that this is the scenario they will have to deal with is not comforting at all.
If we look at our country, things are more or less similar. We are doing better, but we cannot be satisfied. We occupy 25th place in the global ranking of countries and, in keeping with the United Nations' penchant for colorful colors, there is little green in our score.
If this were the CIS, we would say that these data do not reflect the effect of the High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda. Let's hope that this initiative, right from my point of view, will make things change soon.
That said, let's look at 5 things that, from my point of view, would be good if they happened and 3 that perhaps it would be better if they did not:
Among those that I do believe should occur.....
- It has been a great idea to close the SDGs by fostering partnerships through the revitalization of the Global Partnership for Development. This is providing a great framework for businesses, civic entities and governments to collaborate. However, I miss more collaboration between NGOs themselves, between business and between governments. It is all very well for companies to sit down with NGOs or governments to launch joint initiatives, but I think it would be great if companies could also sit down with each other to analyze what they could do together, sectorally or territorially, to respond to the SDGs. And the same could be said of civic entities and governments.
In fact, among the hundreds of documents, and I am not exaggerating, that the SDGs are generating, I have only been able to find one that addresses business engagement from a sectoral perspective and, by the way, what it says makes perfect sense.
- The SDGs are an almost inexhaustible source of inspiration for social entrepreneurship. They pose many challenges facing the planet that can be addressed through innovation and the development of sustainable business models that are good for the planet. Entrepreneurship and starting up companies with the aim of solving a social need and generating a positive impact on the world is an imperative need of our world and, surely, it would be of great help to achieve the SDGs if there were business initiatives willing to embark on the path of developing sustainable businesses that improve the planet.
Organizations such as Ashoka, Impact Hub and Social Nest are working along these lines.
- And entrepreneurship on a global scale, as always, requires investment. That is, investors willing to put their money into developing businesses that have a return for the risk they take. In this case, in addition to the return on their investment, the return is for the planet, so investment should be encouraged so that their resources go to start-ups willing to seek both: economic return and positive impact on society.
In fact, there are already many studies, reports and even stock market indexes that are showing that investing in this type of companies is a good business, as they have a return on investment even higher and better than other initiatives.
- The SDGs have clearly positioned themselves in the strategies and policies of companies, NGOs and governments, but once again we have not managed to reach the public in such a clear way. We can already imagine the responses if we were to go out into a central street of any Spanish city and ask about the SDGs.
In fact, we should know, but the Spanish government has decided that, despite having data on this issue, it might be better not to know. One more task for the High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda.
- Measuring is essential to know the progress or setbacks in achieving a goal, but we cannot play a game of tennis looking only at the scoreboard. We evaluate our actions to correct mistakes and encourage successes, but this post-assessment capacity is often lacking when we talk about actions such as the SDGs. In fact, sometimes it seems that the only important thing is to measure.
It is impossible to imagine that a 15-year strategy, such as the SDGs, has been correctly defined from the outset, so we hope that the United Nations has the capacity to correct the actions that are not working and to deepen the actions that are working. There is no need to wait until 2030 to say that this has failed and we have not achieved it.
Some things that I think should not happen are.....
- The SDGs are not a fad, but reflect the suffering of millions of people. We already know that communication strategies are essential in the 21st century, but we should not forget the ultimate goal in order to focus on what is really important.
- It is fantastic that the companies have jumped headfirst into this initiative, but it would also be good if their work on these issues were not only to leave the balance at 0, but that the final balance was positive.
- We can't get to 2030 and go back to saying well, but not. We cannot be satisfied with the fact that we have made progress, but our expectations have not been met. It is in our hands to make the SDGs a reality and, as the recently appointed High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda, Cristina Gallach, said, "we are the last generation that can stop the disaster".