Goal 17 - Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. Successful sustainable development requires partnerships between all levels of government, the private sector and civil society, based on shared values and goals that place people and planet at the centre. Action is needed to unlock and direct the transformative power of private resources to deliver on sustainable development objectives through long-term investments in critical sectors, such as energy, infrastructure, transport and communications technologies.
What is Goal 17?
Goal 17 is largely focused on co-operation and partnerships towards delivery of the other SDGs. It tackles issues around development funding and debt, access to finance and technology, access to trade and export markets and also effective measurement of statistics involving tax collection and census data. The importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships cannot be understated in terms of delivery of all the SDGs, success will require a huge amount of co-operation across different sectors and between governments, the public and private sectors. The very concept of partnership is intrinsic in the shift away from 'growth at all costs' and cementing this concept with all stakeholders is at the heart of Goal 17.
The UN states that Goal 17 'seeks to strengthen global partnerships to support and achieve the ambitious targets of the 2030 Agenda, bringing together national governments, the international community, civil society, the private sector and other actors. Despite advances in certain areas, more needs to be done to accelerate progress.'
Why is goal 17 important?
Image credit: Stockholm Resilience Centre
This striking image from the Stockholm Resilience Centre is a fantastic visualisation of the SDGs as a three-tiered cake in which Goal 17 sits atop. Many other visual representations have Goal 17 apart but overarching, but the image above seems to resonate the most within the development community. Without partnership and collaborative efforts to achieve the goals, the goals will not succeed. The purpose of the goals is to 'leave no one behind', but in order to do this we must first 'get everyone on board.'
How can companies contribute to Goal 17?
There are two key ways in which companies can contribute to goal 17. Firstly, they can contribute directly to the targets through their products and services, for example companies which provide the technological infrastructure to allow internet access in developing countries. There are also companies which are harnessing big data to improve humanitarian efforts, Cisco Systems partnership with Mercy Corps aims to 'build new partnerships, develop better processes, and experiment with innovative tools to deliver aid faster, more efficiently, and to more people', for example they have built digital communities where refugees can access information on obtaining legal documentation and also used data insights to redesign counselling services, improving uptake by 66%. This is a good example of a company moving beyond philanthropy, and creating more effective impact through deployment of products and services towards core solutions.
The banking and financial services industry also has a direct role to play in terms of innovative development finance and accelerating finance which supports delivery of the goals. BNP Paribas has assessed lending which supports the goals with 15% in 2015 going towards a series of funds which directly correspond to the SDGs such as BNP Paribas Aqua. Over 2017 it provided EUR 155 billion in financing for energy transition and sectors directly contributing to the UN SDGs, including EUR 12.3 billion for renewable energy. Many other banks, financial services and insurance companies are also identifying and adapting to the 2030 targets suggesting this is not a 'nice-to-have' CSR project but a core shift in this sector.
Secondly, companies can contribute towards partnerships for the goals by thinking about ways in which they can break out of their sector silos or challenge the status-quo within their industry by talking to a diverse range of stakeholders. Initiatives such as the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development are creating spaces for this cross-sector idea fertilisation, holding events and training on the SDGs and encouraging partners to come up with new ways to interact. As the result of one such session Ethical Screening wrote a blog post with the help of the team at Liontrust to publicise the SDGs and the work of the sustainable investment industry to construction CEOs at The Institute of Civil Engineers. Providing a different industry perspective can reframe the SDGs for those who might otherwise struggle to see the wider relevance of the goals.
The UKSSD has also produced a report entitled 'Measuring Up' which is required reading for anyone in the UK working on the SDGs. The report is a snapshot of UK progress towards the goals, identifying the areas where there is still work to be done but also highlighting fantastic projects supporting the goals which are happening nationally. The report's launch at parliament also drew the Government's attention towards their role in the implementation of the goals, as many people in the investment industry are already aware, there are some targets which are only achievable through national level action including on climate and justice. Companies can support these targets but the private sector alone cannot deliver on them. The UK government can and should be reminded of the commitments it has made to delivery of the Global Goals, and the 'Measuring Up' report provides a good framework for future assessments including the Voluntary National Review which is due to be submitted to the UN in 2019. Companies who are setting out to achieve the goals cannot do so in a vacuum. Wider government action in the countries in which they operate should be assessed and subsequently challenged by all stakeholders where is it deficient. As the proverb says, 'if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.'
This blog forms the last in our series which has aimed to provide a deeper dive for investors into what the SDGs are and how companies are able to contribute (or obstruct!) their delivery. If you require further information on building a portfolio or a fund based on sustainable development, please do get in touch to discuss access to our products and services.
We are proud to play our part in the global movement towards a fairer, cleaner, healthier, happier future for all. Suitably for Goal 17 we would like to conclude with a call to action, so break a boundary today, be a disruptor and discuss the SDGs beyond the limits of your business, investments or industry. Don't get left behind!
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