Business Has a Role to Play in Sustainable Development

Business Has a Role to Play in Sustainable Development

Earlier this year at the Aspen Institute’s Action Forum, Anand Giridharada held a talk about the looming Sustainable Development agenda, and discussed it from a very atypical angle. He maintained that instigating the numerous targets attached to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals is not the solitary way to the conducive living atmosphere we are hunting for. The UN is telling us the opposite, but according to Anand, preventing what causes poverty, for instance, would be more rational than combating an already established crisis.

Looking at the direction the once-auspicious MDGs took, you would almost concur that facing the SDGs in the premeditated way is nothing but another well-fashioned reverie. (more…)

Fact sheet on current MDG progress of Romania (Europe and the CIS)

Romania underwent radical economic reforms in the 1990s that finally unlocked the process of growth, while firmly preparing the state for full European Union (EU) membership in 2007. This marked the fall of the totalitarian communist regime, setting the scene for stable and sustainable development for years to come.

This south-eastern country in the European region has attained and made irreversible progress on the millennium development goals, reinforced largely by the experience of EU accession and the programmatic and fiscal instruments made available to Romania via this political, social, and economic convergence. In the period between 2000 and 2008, Romania’s GDP grew from $40 billion to $204 billion (the highest ever). Since then, it has been fluctuating with a low of $164 billion in 2009 and a high of $199 billion.

MDG progress of Romania

According to the most recent report of MDG progress of Romania, the strategic objective of European integration has contributed considerably to the country’s attainment of most of the MDG targets. Furthermore, the element of modernisation instilled by the EU accession progress has allowed the country to move forward and assume targets that bear a higher value added for its own citizens. (more…)

SDG 15 – Sustain Life on Land – Forest, Ground and Animals

Do you enjoy going camping? Reading a good book? That ice-cream you recently had? Whether you appreciate it or not, you cannot deny the important role our earth’s natural habitats have in our daily lives.

We depend on terrestrial ecosystems and forests as an essential source of materials, food, product ingredients and also for livelihoods. The Sustainable Development Goal 15 on ‘life on earth’ is all about protecting, restoring and promoting the sustainable use of all terrestrial ecosystems so that we can have a better future.

Why SDG 15 is important

The world has lost over 12 million hectares of forest every year from 2000 to 2010. Expansion of commercial agriculture, especially large-scale farming, has largely caused this significant loss of forest cover. Nevertheless, damaging the environment, particularly forests, comes at great costs.

SDG 14 – Conserve and sustain the oceans, seas and marine resources

Oceans are the biggest ecosystems on planet earth, and they are essential to our survival. They cover 65% of the surface of the earth, generate nearly half of the air we breathe in and also 16% of animal protein, besides playing an important role in the global economy.

Over 3 billion people across the world depend on coastal and marine resources, generating many jobs in various industries such as tourism, biotechnology, fishing, and shipping. The ocean has a significant part to play in the worldwide development, and it can help fight poverty. However, marine ecosystems across the world are currently being threatened by our human activities. We must start protecting our oceans’ health if we are to prosper and survive.

Introducing SDG 14 on conserving the oceans

There is optimism that with the latest dedicated goal of ocean conservation under the Sustainable Development Goals, companies will acknowledge the value and importance of our coastal areas and oceans. In the previous Millennium Development Goals, oceans were covered in the broader target of securing environmental sustainability. The new SDGs, however, give oceans the important dedicated attention with distinctive underlying targets. Goal 14 seeks the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, seas, and oceans.

SDG 13 – Fight Climate Change and Its Effects

Introducing SDG 13 on Climate Change

Sustainable development and climate change are goals that should not be pursued independently by any country. Members of the UN have finally recognised the interrelatedness of these two crucial goals through the inclusion of climate change as a single Sustainable Development Goal.

This SDG emphasises a major milestone since the challenge of climate change in the earlier Millennium Development Goals was not fully exhausted. Everyone is now waiting for the imminent climate talks that will be held in Paris in December 2015 where new international treaties aimed at ensuring global warming stays below 20 degrees celsius will be established.

A climate that continues warming up will affect food security, freshwater availability and energy among other necessities of life.

Fact sheet on current MDG progress of Belize (Latin America and the Caribbean)

The Millennium Development Goals provided Belize with a basis on which to track and measure its development progress. The country’s strategies have been clear, deliberate, and consistent, resulting in considerable advancement towards most of the MDG goals compared to the rest of the region.

MDG 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger – off target

None of the targets under MDG1 were achieved, since instead of trending downwards, poverty and indigence increased from 2002.

Between 2002 and 2009, the proportion of Belize population below $1.25 per day increased from 33.5 to 41.3 percent (15.8 percent of whom are classified as extremely poor). The target for halving the poverty gap ratio was also not achieved, and only negligible change was recorded within the same period, from 10.9 in 2002 to 10.8 in 2009.

The growth of GDP per worker has trended downward since 2000, and was at 3.12 percent at the end of 2007. However, the downward trend changed and increased to 4.7 percent in 2012 following increased efficiency in the use of labour coupled with a shift in the type of productive activities in the economy after Belize became a petroleum exporter in 2005. (more…)

Fact sheet on current MDG progress of Tonga (Asia Pacific)

Tonga joined the UN in 1999, and signed up for the MDGs in 2000 together with another 188 nations. Tonga comprises 172 islands with a land area of 747 square kilometres, and a total land/ocean surface area of around 720,000 square kilometres. The country has a population of 103,252 according to the 2011 census, with 73 percent living in the largest island, Tongatapu. 34 percent of this lives in the capital, Nuku’alofa, as well as the peri-urban areas. The other four major island groups that are inhabited are: Vava’u at 15 percent; Ha’apai at 7 percent’ ‘Eua at 5 percent; and Niuas at 1 percent.

Since the inception of the MDGs, the kingdom of Tonga has completed three assessment reports, with the final one being released in September 2015. The following is a look at the targets and achievements of Tonga in regard to the millennium development goals:

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

This is the biggest challenge for many Pacific island countries, where progress is constrained by low economic growth and a lack of job opportunities. The global financial crisis further retarded progress, while income inequalities persist across all countries – especially urban and rural areas. (more…)

SDG 12 – Ensure sustainable consumption and production

The proposed SDG 12 on guaranteeing sustainable consumption and production patterns, despite highlighting a relatively modest concept, likely represents one of the most exemplary changes in the new SDGs. In an increasingly consumption-influenced world, where many admire the Western culture, producing and consuming less is a weighty paradox. This goal is also quite important because the planet cannot sustain the increasing demand for energy, food, water and other vital necessary for sustaining the rising global population, especially the middle class.

An Essential Development Goal

SDG 12 is quite important as it underpins every other Sustainable Development Goal, from Zero Poverty to Peace and Justice. Nevertheless, its idea creates lots of resistance since it poses a significant threat to the status quo, despite being a great social, environmental and economic opportunity. Humankind must now look for ways of doing better and more with less. It is vital to note that this particular SDG covers the consumers and business sectors, and also basic services, supply chains, better jobs and an improved life quality for all.


SDG 11 – Sustainable, Safe and Inclusive Cities and Communities

Introducing the SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities

Given the strongly transformative effect of urbanisation and the vitality of cities, a stand-alone and dedicated urban sustainable development goal was formed. The SDG 11 is part of the broader Sustainable Development Goals developed by the UN member states as a blueprint for equitable, sustainable development for all people.

It is essential for mobilising stakeholders, promoting cohesive, city-level strategies and accelerating progress towards truly sustainable development, which includes ending extreme poverty. Sustainable cities goal is a transformative agenda that believes everyone must have a dignified life and creating preconditions that allow people to grow and flourish.

Implications of Urbanisation

Urbanisation has proven to be very effective in transforming the economic and social fabric of countries. In fact, cities are largely responsible for most of the consumption and production globally, and they serve as the main engines of development and economic growth. Nearly 75% of worldwide economic activity occurs in an urban setting. Thus, the urban percentage of worldwide investments and GDP will also increase with time, especially with a rising urban population.


SDG 10 – Reduce inequality in people, within and among countries

Introducing SDG 10 on reducing inequality

The universal response to decreasing inequality through SDG 10 is much more comprehensive than in the previous MDGs. By referencing within and among nations, this SDG highlights how much inequality is a challenge for every country and not just the developing ones.

Progress made through the MDGs

The previous MDGs have made some progress in addressing the issue of inequality. There has been a significant reduction in poverty, which means that 750 million fewer people are now living on less than $1 per day while gender equality has made some gains with more girls being enrolled in school in the developing countries. However, data shows there is an increase in income inequality in both developing and developed countries. In fact, income equality rates are at their highest levels for the last half century.

Some level of income inequality cannot be controlled and is even welcome as it helps in driving progress. However, high and rising income inequality levels are a great threat to stability for both in and across countries. Inequality is related to several challenges including environmental degradation, poverty, persistent unemployment, conflict, violence and political instability.