Ambitious UN Sustainable Development Goals – what sounds like a bureaucratic initiative could be successful if government, private sector and civil society work together.
In September of 2015 the United Nations took the forward thinking step of establishing what they called UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). The organization laid out a blueprint for governments, organizations, and individuals to strive to achieve a fairer and more sustainable future for all by the year 2030. The organization selected 17 different goals to transform our world, goals whose adoptions were integral to the sustainability of the planet in the next ten years.
The goals address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice.
Many corporations and governments around the world have made the UN SDGs, as they are known, a central part of their company/governmental ethos. At the macro level, the World Economic Forum listed four Scandinavian countries as leading the way in goal adoption, followed by several other Western European countries such as Switzerland, Germany and the United Kingdom. The United States did not even place in the top 20, nor did global powerhouses such as Russia or China. From a corporation standpoint, multi-national entities such as Merck, Coca-Cola, Air France, Citibank and BASF led the way by aligning with as many as half of the 17 UN SDGs.
While all of that is admirable, we at Scout 22 are particularly proud of two of our clients who each meet more than half of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Fry Family Foods, the South African plant-based food company who sells their products in 28 countries around the world, aligns with an impressive three quarters of the 17 UN SDG’s. From touching on the UN’s goals of No Poverty, Decent Work and Economic Growth, to Responsible Production and Consumption, and Climate Action, Fry’s commitment to leaving a positive imprint on the planet is clearly evident.
Fry’s production of meat alternative food products means that instead of wasting tens of thousands of gallons of water on one beef hamburger, consumers opting for their plant-based products leave a footprint that is dramatically decreased. In addition, the company’s South African production facilities provide good paying jobs that are a source of pride for its employees in a country where the unemployment rate is greater than 25%.
In addition, Milkadamia and its parent company Jindilli Farms, are proud to align with more than half of the UN SDG’s. Their regenerative farms in Australia grow macadamias with virtually no irrigated water.
This process, known as Regenerative Farming, also allows the carbon, essential to the health of the soil, to remain in the ground and not escape into the earth’s atmosphere. In addition, the company’s Milkadamia products are far healthier than their dairy counterparts and remove the need for livestock and factory farming, an inhumane and unsustainable process. Millions of lands that are now used to house livestock could be used for cultivating new crops to feed a growing global population without an adverse impact on the soil, water and the air.
One thing is clear. Believing that governments, despite the gains made by the aforementioned countries, will make a significant impact on the Sustainable Development Goals is wishful thinking and even if they did it would still only be a part of the answer to the problem. It’s admirable to see these Scandinavian and Western European countries leading the way but a major impact won’t be felt until the G7 countries or Russia, China or India make a commitment to alignment. Currently only one of the G7 nations (Germany) finishes in the Top 10 of the World Economic Forum’s list of nations that are aligning with the UN SDGs.
Instead, the change will come from the world’s forward-thinking and ethical companies to lead the way and, here’s the most important part, for us as consumers to vote with our wallets. Do we want to be brand ambassadors who share our commitment to reversing climate change, eliminating hunger and poverty, establishing and maintaining gender equality and providing meaningful employment opportunities for every part of the world? Or do we want to continue to be virtual ATM machines for companies who continue to take from the earth and our animal friends in such a cruel, unethical and unsustainable fashion and who eschew a conscious capitalistic business philosophy?
We love that the brands we represent share the same commitment that we do to leave a positive impact on the planet and all of its inhabitants for today and for future generations to come.
-Lori & Jim Amos