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The Sustainable Development Agenda of the United Nations for 2030 has been staging since 2015 a series of goals to guide the world on the path of sustainability with the aim of eradicating poverty, improving living conditions and take immediate action in the conservation of the environment. Thus, each of the 17 SDGs support and promote a specific field that private, public and civil sectors are committed to empower and represent.

SDGs


The scope of these objectives reflects not only an advance in the development of each country or region of the world, but also demonstrates the synergies and international cooperation willing to act for the social good. But how can you contribute individually to these initiatives?

Here are a few tips:

1. Support them in social networks
Social networks like Horyou allow you to share projects and actions related to the scope of some sustainable development objective and allow other international organizations to help you achieve your goals, either through funding or promoting visibility.

2. Improve your visibility
Always use #SDG (as well as #ODD, #ODS, or other hashtag, depending on your language of choice) in any publication on social media, so that the support you give to a certain cause or project is visible. Thus, it will be easier to find people supporting the same objective and the probability of achieving future connections will be greater.

3. Join new challenges
Lose the fear and support new initiatives like the #HoryouLightChallenge whereby you can share your positive actions in favor of sustainable development as well as in your daily routine.


4. Turn your passion into help

Inspire your friends


Identify which of the sustainable development objectives is aligned more with your routines, habits and work and share innovative ways to contribute to solutions aimed at the proposed goals.

5. Be an ambassador for your goal of preference
Share with your community and inspire your circle of friends to support Sustainable Development Goals through their daily routines.

In this way, every one of us can contribute a bit to the global agenda of sustainable development and have by 2030 a healthier planet and better living conditions for us and future generations.

 

 

Written by Sueyfer de la Torre

 

Maria Luisa Silva presents the UN Sustainable Goals during an event in Geneva
Maria Luisa Silva presents the UN Sustainable Goals during an event in Geneva

Launched in September 2015, the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 is a broad and demanding agenda which affects all countries. The new goals require more collaboration, commitment and the participation of all actors: academia, society, governments and private sectors should join forces to shape better times to come. Horyou blog interviewed Maria Luisa Silva, the Head of United Nations Development Program in Geneva, about the challenges presented by the new agenda.

1. How does the new UN Sustainable Development Goals differ from the UN Millennium Goals?

They differ in three fundamental ways. The first difference is that Millennium Development Goals were a relatively narrow social agenda, extremely important but focused on some social issues. The Sustainable development agenda is a broader and more complex agenda that addresses all the dimensions of development: economic, social but also sustainability. The pillar of environment gives a greater expansion in the sustainable development goals – 6 out of the 17 new goals are focusing on environmental issues. The reason they are making their way in the agenda is because these are the areas where the least progress happened during the life of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

The second main difference is that the Sustainable Development Goals are going to require a major mobilization of all sorts of actors. The Millennium Goals were mostly emanating from governments towards developing countries, and agreed in multilateral forums. In this case, it requires society as a whole: private sector, youth, academia, everybody to think and to make a necessary social transformation.

The third difference is that they are universal goals. This is not just an agenda for developing countries, this is an agenda that will also apply and demand action on rich societies, to address the social challenges they have, and many of them would be surprised about their serious issues of inequality and poverty pockets. More importantly, there are involved in the environmental transformations required to reach the sustainability dimension of the agenda.

2. How can companies help to engage on climate change and environmental challenges?

The private sector can engage in two different manners. One is with a necessary innovation to make the planet a better place to live. And innovation and the transformation of the production processes need to come up from the private sector. This is a survival agenda. I remember talking to Paul Polman, head of Unilever, and he and many other companies have already realized that this is not just for profit. It’s the interest of new consumers, young people are not interested to consume products from companies that are destroying the environment or gaining money profiting from the poor and vulnerable. So, it becomes really part of the bottom line for enterprises.

The other dimension is also contributions, more and more we are getting private sector organizations leading and contributing to debates which were more traditionally government-led debates. And we have from the philanthropic side foundations from extremely wealthy private entrepreneurs contributing to the public good. So the public good is not just responsibility from governments only, it is also from the private sector.

3. How will developing countries get assistance to reach the new UN Sustainable Development Goals?

Traditionally, development assistance was considered the way to contribute, to leverage development processes in developing countries. And this is what’s called Official Development Assistance (ODA). The goal of ODA was only 0,7% of GDP in rich economies, but very few countries have reached that level. Some have, and it hasn’t really hurt them. It’s not complicated, it’s just a matter of political will. We need to keep pushing them to reach that level, because this ODA is absolutely instrumental, particularly for the least developed countries and the low income countries which are out of their own means to reach the Sustainable Development goals. The case of upper middle income countries like Brazil is not ODA. They will have to develop other means and ways, private investments, mobilization of local resources. It’s important to see how they will deal with obstacles that are limiting sustainable-friendly investments and sustainable development.

4. How do you see the news of China and US signing the Paris agreement?

Paris Agreement was one of the incredible successes of the year 2015, where political leaders around the globe agreed on political agendas that will be extremely important for the coming years. So US and China agreed in Paris and now they are making the next step which is signing the agreement. This is absolutely fantastic and very important, but there is much more to do. We need to transform intended national contributions into real national contributions. So those plans that each country committed itself to do, now they need to become reality. And we also need to go further. Even if we achieve everything that all countries committed to achieve, we will still be in the 3 degrees level. And many states said that they want to go to 1,5. In the revision on those intended national contributions within 5 years, we need to keep pushing for further ambitions.

Written by Vivian Soares

A conference dedicated to the relevance of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for the Private Sector took place last Friday at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The high-level event, in conjunction with the 2030 Agenda, was held by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in collaboration with the Rotary Club Genève International and the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Services. During the conference, a panel of experts representing the public and private sectors, as well as the Swiss Government and International Organizations, shared their opinions on why it is necessary to encourage companies to implement SDG in their business policies and how can it be done.

The executive director of UNITAR, Nikhil Seth, kicked off the conference with a detailed presentation of the SDG. The 2030 Development Agenda was signed by 193 member countries on 25 September 2015. It includes a set of 17  SDG to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. According to Nikhil Seth, SDG cannot be achieved without the businesses commitment.

UNITAR CONFERENCE2

But how can the private sector be encouraged to contribute to SDG achievement? Joakim Reiter, Deputy Secretary-General of the UNCTAD, sees a part of the solution to the problem in building an innovation system that would enable countries to absorb new technologies. This could be reached thanks to a network of incubators and clusters linking universities to the private sector.

Implementing SDG collaboration between various institutions is essential, according to Monika Linn from UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe). “While developing standards and regulations, we are bringing together all stakeholders: businesses, academia and civil society”, she said. UNECE believes that by bringing all actors together, a multiple perspective with respect to the diversity of interests is built.

Diverse thinking can be also applied to business models, according to Walter Gyger, who was speaking for Rotary International. He believes that the traditional business model is no longer an alternative. Companies need to focus not only on profitability but also sustainability and become more long-term oriented. In his opinion, no government can tackle the current problems alone, therefore all concerned parties, businesses, academia and civil society, have to contribute to the sustainability agenda.

Horyou CEO, Yonathan Parienti, emphasized the potential of the global civil society, which is ready to bring the change. Horyou creates conditions to move the society forward while building bridges to connect people across countries and cultures. The progress toward sustainability will be pushed forward as investors will intensify their funding of social innovation. “We must support the innovators of tomorrow”, he concluded.

Yonathan Parienti, CEO of Horyou
Yonathan Parienti, CEO of Horyou

So why are investors hesitating? Philip Moss from World Economic Forum explained: “Business representatives are anxious about implementing SDG and need assistance”. This phenomenon is evidenced in the context of investment in developing countries. Despite the high interest from investors and the attractive demographic conditions that promise huge market opportunities, companies estimate that the risk is to high in comparison to the expected ROI. A better business climate would encourage them to allocate more capital in developing markets. Those favourable conditions can be created by initiatives like Convergence, which is a platform that blends private, public, and philanthropic capital for the greater good. Convergence helps connect various investors for “blended finance” opportunities in emerging and frontier markets.

Along the same lines, Marion Jansen, Chief Economist at International Trade Centre, brought up the need for support of the private sector. She thus focused on the role of small and medium-sized businesses which represent about 80% of business worldwide and 70% of global employment. “SMEs are much less productive than large firms and the wages are accordingly lower” she stated. A way to preserve the viability of the SME is to increase its productivity. This can be done through collaboration with private and public partners like the Chambers of commerce. It is crucial to provide clear guidelines to small and medium-sized companies and help them to comply with the standards.

Wanda Lopuch, member of the board of directors at Global Sourcing Council, pointed out that language was another obstacle on the way to implementing SDG by private companies: “Unless we incorporate the language of business, which must include the word “profit”, we will be loosing tremendous opportunities”, she warned. According to Lopuch, the visionary and inspirational language of diplomacy used to communicate about SDG is not adequate to the private sector which prefers operational and measurable business terms. The communication style needs to be adapted to those recipients in order to make them feel like “SDG-owners” and to convince them to participate in the implementation of sustainability goals. She defined the expectations toward the private sector as «profit with purpose» that can be created through impact investment and financing high-risk businesses.

The discussion was completed with the optimistic observation of Matthew Kilgarriff, Vice-President of Global Compact Network Switzerland, who reminded the audience that more than 8,000 for profit organizations are already allied with UN through their voluntary commitment to Global Compact. This proves that companies are willing to take this step to transform our world through principled business and “gives hope for a more sustainable future”, he concluded.

Written by Joanna Kozik

World Government Summit in Dubai
World Government Summit in Dubai

From the 8th to the 10th of February, leaders from Government, industry and social enterprise gathered together in the gulf of Dubai. It was an interesting setting from more than one aspect.

The city was not so long ago a baron desert, it has literally been built from dreams of what could be and is now home to hundreds of industries and some of the most spectacular feats of engineering and architecture on the planet. One couldn’t think of a more suitable backdrop, considering the agenda of what was to be discussed at the World Government Summit.

It began with a very matter-of-fact address from CEO of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab who, referring to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, stated that “the future is here” and that it is time to mobilize and capture the opportunity that it brings.

The Forth Industrial Revolution covers a multitude of different paradigms, but the narrative of this event was one based firmly on Horyou values: sustainable business.

We have been part of a world up to now that has revolved around the principles of a money making market system whereby lives are sustained on the basis of trade, whether you are trading beans as a farmer in remote Africa or multi-millions in a global hedge fund.

Schwab
Klaus Schwab, Director of World Economic Forum addressing the audience

Since the global financial crisis of 2008, principles have changed, from global industry down to citizen level.

We are now slowly adapting a more conscious way of living across the board. We are conscious of our impact on the environment, conscious that our patterns of consumption are keeping laborers working like machines and conscious that the payoffs that we deem important are driving policy decisions that feed inequality.

The need to address this balance of cause and effect regarding capitalism was highlighted. Former Prime Minister of France Dominique De Villepin stated that “We need to remember that business exists to enhance society, not create a division among have and have nots”. Alluded to his time in Government where he created a network in France to connect businesses with students and policy makers, he made his position clear on the importance of people connecting for social good.

This was echoed by World Bank president Jim Yong Kim who affirmed that “we all have a stake and the creativity and innovation of youth are our greatest strength.”

cathy
Cathy Kalvin, President of the UN Foundation

Then came a passionate speech by President and CEO of the UN Foundation Cathy Kalvin. The UN Foundation and Horyou are aligned on development goals and how to get there. They also share a special connection after spending two days contributing to discussions at Earth to Paris in December. Cathy made a plea for us to harness the potential of a purpose driven society serving the citizens of tomorrow. “We must place a special emphasis on youth. Moving from poverty to prosperity depends on us realizing what they have to offer,” she declared.

It was a stage where we realised the negative impact of our past behaviours, but also a place where real opportunities were highlighted.

Overall, the ethos and real need for Horyou as a platform for social good was reinforced. The success of the Sustainable Development Goals is multifaceted but connecting good hearts and minds is the starting point.

Written by Dearbhla Gavin

Kenneth Bok is a former Goldman Sachs trader and the founder and CEO of Blocks, a Blockchain research platform based in Singapore. A passionate believer in sustainability, ecology and technology, he is Horyou’s Partner and Ambassador to Singapore and the organizer of De/Centralize 2018, the country’s premier conference on Blockchain and decentralization mechanisms for building a better world. One of the questions the event raises is: “Can these technologies help to create a better world?’. Horyou blog has talked with Mr. Bok.

De/centralize takes place in Singapore

– What does decentralization mean for technology, economics and law?

The Blockchain has enabled for distributed computing platforms which store and process information in radically different ways from normal server-client architecture. This has profound consequences in the way digital tokens can be integrated with the internet, how data is stored, and even how contracts are written and executed between parties. Decentralization is still a mysterious word really, but the gist of it is that there are more resilient and alternative structures to the ones we have one. Think about the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica issue. Even if Facebook are doing their best, they are still under the purview of various governments who can shut Facebook down if they choose to do so. This is not so easy with decentralized systems.

– Blockchain is a technology that lies heavily on decentralization. What can we expect from the conference in terms of content and debates about both subjects?

We are hosting some projects that could really change the world. Cosmos and Blockstack for example. I think there is a lot of hype with blockchain, and our goal is to separate the signal from the noise. We have some really world-class VCs such as Tim Draper who is going to give us a keynote, as well as Zooko Wilcox from ZCash giving us a presentation on the latest developments with digital money. We definitely want people to form their own opinions, to question everything and to decide for themselves if Blockchain is more than speculation and hype.

– How can Blockchain help to reach the sustainable development goals, reduce poverty and help to build a better world?

Michael Casey and Paul Vigna’s new book ‘The Truth Machine’ opens wonderfully with a story about the World Food Program’s (WFP) initiatives in Syria. Many of us take for granted that we have a passport, social identities, bank accounts, but this is not the case for refugees and stateless persons. The WFP is using a Blockchain solution to coordinate and track food distribution. Blockchains have tremendous potential to enable people who are unbanked and unidentified to be part of the system and have access to loans, make contracts, have a proper job, and so on.

Kenneth Bok

– How do you see the future of Blockchain technology in 10 years?

AI, Blockchain and IoT will become more integrated and will be truly mind-boggling in their capabilities. We will be able to do science better, make decisions better, become more efficient and effective in whatever we do.

– Could you name some of your top speakers and their business/areas of expertise?

Lasse Clausen from 1kx is one of the smartest token fund managers that I know of.

Adrian Brink from Cosmos: they are building the next generation Blockchain systems that are pushing the boundaries.

Meltem Demirors is a great speaker, thinker, and has worked with the World Economic Forum, MIT Media Lab and Digital Currency Group.

– Singapore is our next Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum – SIGEF 2018 – host city. For years, it has been a technology, Blockchain and sustainability hub. Why, in your opinion, does the city have such a vocation? Should it be a role model for Asia and beyond?

Singapore has had many things in its favor, geography for one, but we have been particularly blessed with good leadership. Mr Lee Kuan Yew was the architect of our country and built a meritocratic system with good law and order, an emphasis on education and racial harmony. We have one of the best healthcare systems in the world and it is extremely safe here. Clearly Singapore’s methods will not work in countries much larger than us, but our methods have been studied and implemented in many places outside of Singapore.

De/Centralize takes place from 5-6 April at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Singapore. The event is an Horyou Media Partner.

Professor Steven MacGregor is a social innovator who has been teaching, researching and publishing about unorthodox topics such as personal sustainability and sustainable leadership. About a decade ago, he founded of The Leadership Academy of Barcelona of which he is the CEO, and for more than 15 years, he has been contending that companies should not only be money making machines. We are happy to feature Professor MacGregor as one of our Changemakers!

Part of the LAB team in Barcelona

When was the LAB founded?

The LAB was founded in 2007, when I was directing a research project on CSR and teaching on executive education programs at IESE Business School. The project was one of the first European funded efforts with a specific focus on CSR and innovation, while my teaching focused on the health and wellbeing of executives, which I viewed as personal sustainability. I felt my take on sustainability, as an aggregate of both these areas, was unique enough to take the plunge and start a company. The defining thought for me at the time was that sustainable companies couldn’t be built on people who weren’t sustainable themselves. Essentially, it’s about bringing a more human approach to business.

What does sustainable leadership stand for and why did The LAB start to develop projects and training in this area of expertise?

Most of what we’ve done in the past 10 years has been centered on the health, well-being and performance of people at work. We’ve had aspects including mindfulness, fitness, nutrition, and sleep coaching in our programs during that time. Of course, we need to manage and lead ourselves better before we can lead others. We train people to be inspiring, energetic and engaging leaders who get the best out of their people. I think that many have forgotten the simple fact that leadership is about others. Considering our basic human needs is an effective way of doing that.

Can you present some of societyLAB’s current projects?

Most of our engagements tend to come in the healthLAB and designLAB. Societal issues are integrated within these projects, for example in areas such as talent management, client experience and workspace design; but scaling up societyLAB is a big objective this year. Our idea is to focus on the area of societal wellbeing. One specific idea that we’re pursuing is using behaviour change tools to nudge peoples’ behaviour in areas such as alcohol consumption.

Steven MacGregor

What are your goals for 2018?

Using more sophisticated behaviour change tools is something we’ve been looking at for several years. These tools represent cutting-edge machine learning and algorithm development and will allow us greater insight into what works in the classroom and how we can better design our work and home environments to be happier and healthier. We make the case for wellbeing at work to be a more strategic concern. More generally, we simply want to keep having an impact on peoples’ lives.

Do you believe companies are now convinced that CSR can make both social impact and profits? How do you evaluate the current state of corporate involvement with environmental and social issues?

Most of the leading companies are now convinced yes, though they may not call it CSR. There is a deeper awareness of the contract that business has with society. How that manifests itself changes from company to company. In general, organizations are realizing the key role they play in peoples’ lives; and by engaging with them more closely – be they employees, customers or the wider community -, they know they will add value to the business in the long term and protect themselves (as much as possible) from the dangers of disruption.

Horyou is the social network for social good. What is the role of the internet and social media in influencing our companies to be more sustainable and socially conscious?

Transparency and talent. Companies can no longer get away with fancy words that are not matched by deeds. The younger generation is automatically attuned to social good in a way probably never seen before and they will hold enterprises accountable to a new way of doing business, if not directly, then certainly with how they choose to spend their talents. Even the biggest and brightest companies can no longer count on brand prestige or history to attract the best talent. People want to invest their time in something bigger than themselves.

Changemakers is an Horyou initiative which aims to highlight remarkable people & projects related to the Sustainable Development Goals. In this article, we shed a light over #SDG8 – Decent work and economic growth.

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