You have probably either seen their colourful logo pinned to a politician’s lapel, read about them on a company’s website, or heard them mentioned during a conversation: The Sustainable Development Goals.
But what exactly makes them so important for consumers?
Let’s take it back to September 2015. At the UN Annual General Assembly, all 193 UN member states committed to eradicate world poverty and hunger, reduce inequalities, ensure proper education and better healthcare for all, and provide decent jobs and a more sustainable economic growth. In short, they agreed on working together to improve our quality of life, and at the same time ensure that the world we pass on to our children is in a much better state. The UN has therefore set a common course towards a more sustainable future for us all here on planet Earth.
The sustainable development goals (SDGs) are not the UN’s first attempt to set objectives for a better tomorrow.
In 2000, the majority of the world’s leaders agreed to join forces, and thus created eight specific goals concerning how the world should function by 2015. The focus was on halving extreme poverty, getting all children into school, securing rights, curbing deadly diseases, and much more. They didn’t reach every goal, but progress had been made in every area.
Where the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) mostly concerns the developing countries, the new SDGs will demand all countries in the world to take joint responsibility and commit to producing, consuming and acting sustainably.
There are 17 sustainable development goals in total with 169 sub targets that promote specific actions for each goal.
The goals are balancing the three dimensions of sustainable development: Economic, Social and Environmental.
Besides that, they are also interdependent, meaning that one cannot be fully achieved without the others. Therefore, the goals apply to all countries of the world, and by virtue of their universality, hold both a national and international dimension.
You can read more about each specific goal and target here.
Why You Should Care
More and more companies are devoting themselves to the sustainable development goals and are working with them when outlining their strategies. It makes it easier for you as a consumer to see which companies share the same values as you and who is actually taking part in creating a better world.
When shopping, it’s important to check whether or not the companies have chosen to contribute to the SDGs or not, and The Comarché has made it very accessible for you as a consumer to see which goals each brand supports.
At the same time, you can also use the SDGs to pressure companies to perform better.
Today, consumers have all the power, so where you choose to invest your money dictates the way the world will develop. If more consumers demand sustainably produced goods, ethically sourced materials, fairtrade and equal working rights, companies will have no option than to comply with these requirements.
One important goal to highlight would be goal #12, which aims to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
As consumers, we should hold responsibility for our own actions, including our consumption and waste. A third of the world’s food production is thrown in the bin. Electronic waste grew by 38% from 2010-2019, and we are currently using the equivalent of 1.6 Earths to provide the resources we use and help absorb our waste. Therefore, we must also take into account how our way of consuming leaves an impact on our planet.
The SDGs are important on both a national and international scale, as the goals represent a universal approach that any company, organisation, or political union can use.
So, no matter where you find yourself in the world, the SDGs work as a common language to help reach global sustainability.