The Sustainable Development Goals Launch: Corporate Partners Align Their Impact

By Karen Sommer Shalett

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After more than three years of negotiation, 193 world leaders gathered at the United Nations on September 25, 2015, to ratify the Sustainable Development Goals.

Also known as the Global Goals, the 17 goals, with 169 targets — which address increasing health outcomes, but also environmental impact, access to education and economic growth for all countries — aim to serve as a blueprint for the world’s development efforts from 2016-2030.

The ratification coincided with the sunset of the eight Millennium Development Goals, which have been a driving force in cutting extreme poverty by half, a reduction in child deaths by 17,000 daily and reducing maternal mortality by 45%, preventing 3.3 million malaria deaths and giving 2.3 billion people access to clean drinking water. While those goals focused solely on health issues in developing countries, the SDG agenda broadens not only the intended outcomes, but extends to all countries across the globe.

The authors of the SDGs noted, that the complexity of 17 goals and 169 targets points much more sharply to integration and working among sectors, rather than spending resources to find a single or vertical solution within a silo. With a $3 trillion price tag, every sector has been called to consider how it can participate in reaching these goals.

While public-private partnerships aided in the success of the MDGs, more corporations than ever before are evaluating the role they can play.

“The SDGs highlight that we are wrestling with multi-faceted problems that demand an integrated, multi-sector approach,” says Dr. Naveen Rao, Merck for Mothers lead. The private sector should be working alongside civil society and government, not in its own silo. Real public-private engagement allows each partner to do what it does best and complement the others. Coordinating our efforts can help us reach more people, expand what works, and create greater impact for the long term.”

“The private sector should be working alongside civil society and government, not in its own silo.”

Past efforts to tap corporate resources have focused on philanthropic outreach, but the SDGs have underscored the other assets corporations have to offer, including research and development capabilities, training capacity, product and services, and other core competencies. Business leaders have pointed out that the relationship can be symbiotic, with corporations finding shared value in working to alleviate poverty.

“For businesses, the Global Goals hold the ticket to understanding and accessing new markets, driving accelerated growth, and to ultimately achieving greater financial and social outcomes,” says Natasha Sunderji, Accenture Development Partnerships global health lead. “Forward looking businesses recognize that the relationship between the Goals and private sector growth is symbiotic – healthier, fairer and more prosperous societies make for stronger and more resilient economies, which measurably benefits companies who are willing to invest time, effort and resources into playing their part.”

Caption: Devex Impact Associate Editor Adva Saldinger interviews corporate leaders about the role of business in the implementation of the sustainable development goals. Video:

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