New UN Global Compact initiative aims to spur private sector progress towards the SDGs

United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals
FlickrUnited Nations Photo

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last week launched a new initiative designed to help the world's corporations put their weight behind efforts to achieve the 17 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the 2030 deadline.

SDG Ambition is the latest program from the U.N. Global Compact, a U.N. body working with businesses around the world to help them align their activities with the SDGs. Aiming to drive progress through the goals' last decade, the initiative is to provide organizations with a management framework to help them incorporate the SDGs into their normal business operations.

It also will provide guidance on how they can measure and manage their performance against a range of targets set by the SDGs.

"The global business community is not moving at the speed or scale needed to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals," said Lise Kingo, CEO and executive director of the U.N. Global Compact. "The goals will not become a reality without greater ambition as well as deeper integration within companies everywhere. We hope that SDG Ambition will establish a new normal for the global business community that is both bolder and more strategic in efforts to achieve the world we want."

The initiative's launch is being supported by multinationals SAP and Accenture, which will work to "mobilize industry around SDG Ambition and scale impact for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals," according to SAP CEO Jennifer Morgan. "By inspiring our global ecosystems and bringing together our respective areas of expertise, we can empower businesses around the world to use ‘technology for good' and provide the necessary tools to accelerate achieving the world's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."

Implementation of the program will be led by the U.N. Global Compact Local Networks. Located in more than 60 countries, the networks will enable SDG Ambition to engage with more than 1,000 companies operating in diverse industries across 40 countries, helping the firms focus their sustainability efforts on high-impact strategies and business models, the group said.

Launched in 2000, the U.N. Global Compact supports the global business community in advancing U.N. goals and values through responsible corporate practices. With over 10,000 companies and 3,000 non-business signatories based in more than 160 countries, it is the world's largest corporate sustainability initiative.

The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by U.N. Member states in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They aim to provide a blueprint for progress against a broad range of benchmarks, divided into 17 goals, such as tackling poverty, gender equality and climate action.

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