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An approach to making the SDGs personal

Here’s one way we could bridge the gap between the global aspiration of the Sustainable Development Goals and the grassroots nature of the sustainable lifestyle movement.

Working in sustainability means meeting a lot of powerful people. Over the course of my career I’ve sat down with CEOs, celebrities and prime ministers — each with the ability to affect millions, sway whole industries and help (or damage) the world to a degree far beyond any one individual.

But what if the future of the world wasn’t decided in the corridors of power but instead in the corridors of our own homes, in the streets and by billions of people changing how they act, vote, buy and treat the world and each other? 

Last week, Futerra and the United Nations’ 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (the UN 10YFP) launched the #GoodLifeGoals. These are specific, everyday actions that people around the world can take to contribute to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The SDGs themselves have been transformational in guiding policymakers and business leaders to set macro strategies toward urgent sustainability milestones that must be achieved by 2030. In parallel, a global movement for sustainable lifestyles is underway: a drive for a redefined "Good Life" involving individuals, brands, community groups and educators. A drive that focuses on how people can be happier and healthier by being good to each other and the planet. 

The Good Life Goals

We created the Good Life Goals to bridge the gap between the high-level aspiration of the SDGs and the more grassroots-led sustainable lifestyles movement. By providing personally relevant links to each SDG, the Good Life Goals send a message that we all, individually and collectively, can play an important role in defining the future.

And brands, by which I mean for-profit and non-profit organizations, have a huge role to play in activating the Good Life Goals.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has been working closely with Futerra and the UN 10YFP over the past months. It set out a clear call to action for the business world: "The Good Life Goals provide business[es] with a completely new way of thinking about the SDGs and sustainability. They offer a link between what a company makes, the actions being taken to improve the sustainability of products, services and operations, and the way in which their brand exists within their customers’ lives." 

The Good Life Goals provide companies with a clear roadmap — and some fun emojis — to engage their key audiences in their sustainability journey. Your teams can leverage the Good Life Goals in three essential ways:

  1. Engaging with customers: The goals help businesses easily link the actions and lifestyles of their customers to the SDGs. This understanding can help brands engage with customers more effectively around the behaviors linked to their products and services to drive positive impact. (Remember this hashtag: #GoodLifeGoals.)
  2. Engaging with employees: The framework also provide companies with a simple and fun tool to engage staff around the world with a common set of actions, better complementing internal activities, promoting enhanced awareness of the SDGs and making it much easier to embed a culture of sustainable living by communicating in a way that is relevant and relatable.
  3. Encouraging product and service innovation: The initiative can be leveraged to channel new product development to support more sustainable lifestyles. The goals help companies understand how their products are involved in the impacts of people’s lifestyles and identify the potential for innovation. Companies can use them to identify how they can offer people "better" interactions, experiences and products.

I personally believe that people power is as important as powerful people. Imagine the impact if billions of people across the world took some of these actions.

Let’s remember, our institutions have the responsibility to change the world, but they need individuals to get there. The Good Life Goals give everyone a role in making tomorrow better than today. 

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