Sustainable Development Goals

The SDGs have been shaping the sustainability debate since 2015, providing a global agenda for collectively addressing the challenges of the 21st century. The UN GCG promotes the contribution of business to the SDGs by supporting companies to define ambitious goals in alignment with the SDGs and to implement them in practice.

The Agenda 2030, an UN Resolution from 2015, include 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future. The SDGs provide a common language and a compass for the challenges of the 21st century. Aiming for the SDGs requires the commitment not only of politicians and civil society, but also of the business community.

Innovation and investment from business is elementary to achieving the SDGs. The SDGs not only formulate challenges for which the participation of companies is essential. They also enable them to identify risks and potentials that can be addressed through responsible and sustainable corporate governance.

Less than ten years remain to implement the 2030 Agenda. Given the slow progress to date, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a “Decade of Action” in early 2020 and mandated the UN Global Compact to mobilize business.

The UN GCG joins this by supporting companies in interpreting and strategically implementing the SDGs.

More on the background

The 2030 Agenda calls for the cooperation of all for a timely implementation of the SDGs. The importance of partnerships is accordingly captured by a separate goal, SDG 17.

While politics is to create the framework, civil society is to ensure that all societal interests are included (according to "leave nobody behind"), business also plays a central role in the implementation of the SDGs.

In this regard, the UN Global Compact takes a principles-based approach to mobilizing business for the implementation of the SDGs:

  • First, companies should act responsibly in accordance with the Ten Principles (on human rights, labor standards, environmental protection and corruption prevention) of the UN Global Compact. The focus here is primarily on identifying risks and minimizing negative impacts.
  • Based on this, there are opportunities for companies to make a positive contribution to the achievement of goals and to develop new business opportunities, for example by investing in new processes and technologies, innovative solutions and products, productivity and resilience enhancement measures, and job creation.

So a principles-based approach means:

  • Companies minimize their negative impacts in line with the 10 principles ("Act Responsibly").
  • Companies maximize their positive contribution to the SDGs by investing and innovating ("Find Opportunities") and opening up new areas of economic activity.

Support through the UN Global Compact Network Germany

The UN GCG proactively promotes the Agenda 2030. This makes sense, since the Agenda is oriented on the ten principles of the UN Global Compact. In addition to the proven learning formats, such as webinars, the challenges of the SDGs are also incorporated into the daily work of the UN GCG.

Sustainability goals act as a compass for new business opportunities in the economy, as does the central principle of the Global Compact ‘Act Responsibly, Do No Harm’. The integration of the SDGs into business activities thus makes it possible for an individual company to highlight its ‘business case’. In addition to this, the UN GCG expects the companies to tackle the potential negative effects of their business activities, since the ten principles are set down in the SDGs as an integral part of a sustainable development.

As the largest global CSR initiative, the UNGC promotes the development of a sustainable future with responsible corporate governance.