Essay on Sustainability: United Nations Definition

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In 2015, all the member states of the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, as a collective call for action to end hunger, protect the world, and ensure that all people enjoy prosperity and peace by 2030.

By pledging to leave no one behind, the countries committed themselves to make rapid progress for those farthest behind first. That is why the SDGs are built to get the world to a variety of life-changing 'zero' conditions, including zero deprivation, hunger, welfare, and violence against women and girls.

These ambitious targets need to be achieved by everyone. Creativity, know-how, technology, and financial resources from all parts of society are needed to achieve these goals in every context.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for transforming our world: the first six for people, the next three for the planet, the next six for world prosperity, and the last two for peace and partnership.

1. No Poverty

The goal is to end global poverty by 2030, in all its forms. Economic growth must be inclusive in order to generate equitable employment and promote equality

2. Zero Hunger

The goal is to end hunger, achieve food security, enhance nutrition, and endorse sustainable farming. The food and agriculture sector offers a key solution for development and is central to the eradication of hunger and poverty.

3. Good Health and Well Being

Securing a healthy life and promoting well-being for everyone of all ages is essential for sustainable development.

4. Quality Education

Ensure inclusive and egalitarian quality education and encourage opportunities for lifelong learning for all people and environmental sustainability.

5. Gender Equality

Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right but also a necessary foundation for a world that is peaceful, productive, and sustainable. And also emboldens all women and girls.

6. Clean Water and Sanitation

Ensuring access to and healthy management of water and sanitation for all is an important part of the world in which we wish to live.

7. Affordable and Clean Energy

Energy is central to nearly every great challenge and opportunity. And ensure access to affordable, secure, renewable, and modern resources available to everyone is a huge task.

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth

Promoting viable, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and fruitful employment, and decent employment to every person.

9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

Infrastructure investments are indispensable to achieving sustainable growth. And building robust infrastructure, promoting long-term economic growth, and encouraging creativity.

10. Reduce Inequalities

Policies should in practice to reduce inequalities, paying attention to the needs and detriments of the marginalized population.

11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

There needs to be a future where cities have employment opportunities for everyone, and access to basic services i.e. electricity, housing, transportation, and more.

12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Ensure sustainable patterns of consumption and production.

13. Climate Action

Take immediate measures to tackle and prevent climate change.

14. Life Below Water

Conserve and use the rivers, seas, and aquatic resources efficiently for sustainable growth.

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15. Life On Land

Secure, restore, and encourage sustainable use of land resources, maintain forests sustainably, counter habitat loss and prevent land degradation and avoid biodiversity losses.

16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

Promote a stable and inclusive society for sustainable growth, provide access to justice for all, and create reliable, democratic, and diverse bodies at all scales.

17. Partnerships

Strengthen the means of implementation and reinvigorate the regional corporate sustainability alliance.

The role of the organization in delivering the SDGs is not easy. Although SDGs depend on business contributions to be effective, they do not rely on SDGs for their international success, at least in the short term. There are, of course, business opportunities to partner with SDGs, but they are far from global. As national governments have negotiated and implemented the SDGs, they are in the driver's seat to introduce the 2030 Agenda, which is a state-centric structure and does not contain goals or evaluation frameworks for the industry.

In short, the SDGs require some form of translation to be meaningful to the business. In order to unravel the role of business and provide an Oxfam perspective, we have identified five different groups for evaluation:

  1. Prioritization
  2. Integration
  3. Take Ambitious Action
  4. Responsible for Respect Human Rights and Gender Equality
  5. Aggregation and Harmonization of Reporting Information

The SDGs have dominated the discourse of the global business market, in particular multinational corporations (MNCs). The fact that most MNCs are speaking in some form of the SDGs is a welcome sign. Surveys consistently show that corporate recognition and acceptance of SDGs is at an all-time high. Similarly, this phenomenon is confirmed by the growing number of SDGs and industry-related activities and publications. However, there are two significant assumptions to this. First, growing organizational knowledge of SDGs has often not been distributed across all areas of the company but is located within sustainability departments and senior management. Mid-level management is often isolated from SDGs, thereby restricting greater integration, coordination, and creativity of SDGs within core business operations. SDG perception is more prevalent among large North American and European MNCs compared to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and non-Western countries, with some obvious exceptions.

To be more than just window dressing, companies need to integrate SDG participation into their core business and sustainability practices. Most of the businesses we looked at made some progress on integration, notably by integrating, plotting, and aligning their sustainability tactics with the SDGs. Growth however was inconsistent. We evaluated 76 companies, 47 of which confirmed that they support SDGs. Of the 47 companies in our sample that endorsed the SDGs, we found that over 40 percent (21 of 47) only loosely connected their sustainability policy to the SDGs.

The connection was made between the companies in this community by simply referencing the SDGs in the presentation of their sustainability reports or in relation to sustainability areas (e.g. by placing the SDG icon next to sustainability priorities) but without articulating how their approaches are coordinated to help achieve the objectives. These businesses risk turning a blind eye to the SDGs without any significance.

Question: Analysis of one company’s actions to address the SDGs

Coco Cola Company acknowledges it cannot accomplish any of the SDGs alone. Yet as a global company with a large supply chain and scope for customers, we have an important role to play in achieving many of these pioneering objectives. They looked more closely at where they would make meaningful contributions to the SDGs, whether by cooperation with our allies and business colleagues, interaction with suppliers, or in other ways where we have the influence to improve our positive impacts.

As exemplified by concrete collaborations and initiatives, many of which align with the SDGs, Coca-Cola has long supported cross-sector cooperation as a best practice for addressing global challenges.

The sustainability goals of the organization map to all 17 SDGs, with a focus on SDGs that most closely relate to where it believes it can have the most significant impact. Coca-Cola focuses heavily on gender equality (SDG 5), clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), good jobs and economic development (SDG 8), responsible use and production (SDG 12), life below water (SDG 14), and partnerships (SDG 17).

SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) supports Coca-Cola's water management portfolio. The Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), in particular, aims to reach at least 6 million people across Africa by 2020, with increased and reliable access to drinking water. By the end of 2017, RAIN had already delivered clean drinking water to more than 2.8 million people in Africa with more than 140 partners, and sponsored water, sanitation, and hygiene programs (WASH) in more than 2,000 communities across 40 African countries.

Coca-Cola has a long history of climate action (SDG 13), ranging from our leading campaigns throughout the 1990s to our organizational and supply chain efforts to minimize greenhouse gas (GHG) exposure in our manufacturing activities in the early 2000s. In 2013 our target of 'drinking in your mouth' was set to take a bigger step towards reducing GHG emissions across our entire value chain. And this target has proved to be a worthwhile ambition as we have managed to slash our carbon emissions by 24 percent against a 2010 baseline against our target of a 25 percent reduction by the end of 2020.

In 2014, the United Nations Development Program ( UNDP) and Coca-Cola formed a partnership called 'New World: Comprehensive Sustainable Human Development Initiatives' to tackle five priority areas defined as the key to sustainable human development in a 2013 global UN My World Survey: good education, better job prospects, access to clean water and sanitation, and river security. This relationship was further reinforced in 2016 through the Global Water Challenge alliance.

Based on quality education, gender equity, clean water and sanitation, and collaborations with SDGs, the New World Alliance operates in 19 countries across Europe, Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa and has helped more than 1.5 million people during its first two years. To date, New World has had the most impact on SDGs Goal 5 and Goal 6 with a strong focus on WASH and women's empowerment. The program has helped women develop entrepreneurial skills and start up their own businesses, empowered young people to become agents of change, piloted creative approaches for water access and management, and increased sanitation services.

Coca-Cola has also incorporated SDGs Objective 12 (Responsible Use and Production) and Objective 14 (Life Under Water) into the design of its new World Without the Waste project, designed to refashion the company's approach to wrapping, which includes a target of helping to collect and recycle 100% of its packaging by 2030. The company is investing heavily in its contribution to reducing the world's waste, but the problem is larger than the commitment of one company. Progress and positive change can only come when global capital, know-how, and skills are mobilized.

Coca-Cola has integrated the SDGs into the annual reporting of its sustainability initiatives following their adoption by the UN General Assembly in 2015. The SDGs are attempts to cross-reference with the company's global sustainability report and the GRI ranking.

Built to place the planet on a more sustainable course, the SDGs established 169 goals to be achieved by 2030. Although this may seem a long way off, the planet has less than 12 years to go. Coca-Cola will continue to work on progress and use its voice to promote the adoption of the SDGs and the collective action needed to achieve them. The targets are optimistic, but the biggest change is going to happen together.

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