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Sustainable Development Goals:
An International Approach to Local Problems

By Vanessa Zabala


The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals call for a system where inclusive growth, financial inclusion, gender equality, and, above all, socio-economic sustainability around the world are accomplished. One of the major obstacles facing the achievement of these goals is financing. This is where Conscious Capitalism can offer a solution.


On September 25, 2015 the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by all of the United Nations’ (UN) member states. All 193 countries accepted the 17 SDGs as part of their national agenda and pledged to try and achieve a more sustainable and equitable society by 2030. These goals are to be achieved in the next 15 years and are more ambitious than the previous Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The SDGs suggest rates of progress outside of any historical norm, from infrastructure rollout through economic growth to poverty reduction and the fight against infectious disease. World leaders are also right to suggest that meeting such goals, if it is possible at all, will take urgent and dramatic changes in the way the planet operates.

Charles Kenny, Center for Global Development




The Sustainable Development Goals

Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere.

Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.

Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all.

Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.

Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.

Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation.

Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries.

Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development.

Goal 15: Protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

One of the biggest concerns surrounding the achievement of the SDGs is the ability to finance them. In order to address this issue, a Conference on Financing Development was held in July in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The major goal of the conference was to relate the global to the local and find a connection between investment and development. The global economic slowdown has led to a decrease in public spending around the world, leaving Overseas Development Assistance with insufficient funds for the SDGs.

The grim outlook of short-term global economic recovery left civil society in Addis Ababa pushing for a UN tax avoidance body. This was not well received by the UN member countries. According toChris Whatley, Executive Director of the United Nations Association of the United States of America, the conversation has shifted to the improving of domestic policy, resource mobilization within nations, and the possible use of private capital to finance development. An emphasis on the private sector’s role may be the solution to financing, and as a result, achieving the SDGs.

Financial inclusion has the potential to achieve 7 of the 17 SDGs.

Ms. Helen Clark, UNDP

The private sector offers the opportunity to crate a sustainable and prosperous cycle of economic and social development. The UN has emphasized the potential of financial inclusion and inclusive growth and has partnered with The Better Than Cash Alliance to provide services to UN members and accelerate the shift to digital finance. This shift promotes the use of private companies and organizations, like banks, to provide services and access to those who are underserved.

Conscious Capitalism (CC) provides a similar approach to financial inclusion that addresses all of the SDGs. Private institutions and organizations can use their ability to create wealth while solving issues in their communities. The four main principles of CC (Higher Purpose, Stakeholder Orientation, Conscious Leadership, and Conscious Culture) incorporate solving socio-economic problems while making profits. This is a focus on a sustainable cycle that can fund itself, provide services, and solve from local to global problems.

Global output and consumption has doubled since 1990. And yet, despite this dramatic increase in global consumption and in all the attendant environmental and sustainability risks that ensue, one in seven people still live on less than $2 a day and more than one in three people on less than $4 a day (all in 2011 purchasing power parity (PPP)).

Peter Edward and Andy Sumner, Center for Global Development

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, has stated that one of the main reasons for the decrease in poverty is due to previous growth in emerging markets, particularly China. Now, the world is experiencing an economic slowdown, which will make it more difficult to fulfill these goals. The private sector has the ability to capitalize on market demands while being conscious about their operations. To achieve the SDGs, the world, consumers, producers, students, and business owners need to take action towards demanding and providing a more sustainable socio-economic system. One way to accomplish this is to demand more conscious business models that address community needs.


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