Our industry is engaged in an important dialogue to improve sustainability through ESG transparency and industry collaboration. This article is a contribution to this larger conversation and does not necessarily reflect GRESB’s position.
2019 sums up a cycle of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) 2030 Agenda Implementation. According to The Sustainable Development Report 2019, though progress has been made over the past decade, our current status is still far away from meeting “leaving no one behind”, the central principle of the 2030 Agenda.
Take Climate Action (Goal 13) as an example. 2019 Emission Gap Report shows that the temperature is expected to increase to 3.2 degrees Celsius this century if we continue with the current climate commitments, and may soon be impossible to limit the global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius in the future. The clock is ticking for retaining a sustainable living environment for the next generation.
Countries and large entities have been taking actions to accelerate the progress of the SDGs. Climate finance has been increasing over the past several years: comparing to 2015/2016, global climate finance has increased by 25%. However, compared to the actions that should be taken under the 1.5 degrees Celsius scenario, the financed projects are far less than enough. Recognizing the financing gap, countries are acting to further incorporate decarbonization into their governing and economies to encourage public and private financial institutions to invest more climate projects.
While large institutions are making impacts on the progress of SDGs implementation, on the other hand, SDGs are also making impacts on their decisions. The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) has signed a Letter of Intent with the UN and has committed to promoting and supporting the SDGs. Tokyo 2020 aims to deliver sustainable sports games with the concentration of managing climate change, natural resources, loss biodiversity, human rights issues and fair business practices. Tokyo 2020, as a global event, will convey the sustainability concept to not only the local community but also people around the world, and encouraging them to contribute to the realization of SDGs.
In addition to global events, to make SDGs more accessible for the public, and inspire more people to join and act, many organizations have turned SDGs into fun games that allow people to participate and be part of the SDG progress. For instance, the Global Goals World Cup (GGWCups) is a Danish organization that creates soccer events for women to promote SDGs. Women athletes are encouraged to sign up as a team that represents one SDG and take actions for it. In addition to playing in the soccer game, the teams will also present their supporting SDGs and how they are going to act for them. As of 2019, GGWCups has influenced over 4,000 women who took 22,500+ actions in achieving the SDGs. Through interacting activities, organizations can gather people’s creative and innovative ideas for sustainable development while educating the community.
While countries, authorities, organizations, and institutions are pushing forward the progress of achieving SDGs, many organizations are raising from the grassroots. Founded in 2009, 1 Million Women strives to bring all women together to change the lifestyle for solving the climate crisis. The organization has initiated campaigns in various aspects, such as reducing food wastes and packaging, reef protection and lowering the consumption of fossil fuel, to reduce carbon emissions in people’s daily lives. Currently, over 600,000 people have joined the organization with the commitment of reducing more than 700 billion tons of carbon emission in total. The power of all these committed individuals cannot be underestimated. Supporters changing their lifestyles not just to achieve their personal SDG targets, but also to start a revolution that expresses their needs and to urge countries to establish a more equitable and sustainable future.
A variety of actions for SDGs are now happening all over the world. While communities, institutions and governments are pushing forward the SDGs, the concept of sustainability is also influencing people’s daily lives. It is foreseeable that under the impact of SDGs, environmental and social considerations will be brought up more frequently during the decision-making process for any human activities. The interaction between different players (i.e. governments, businesses and communities) may become one of the solutions to accelerate the process of achieving sustainable development.
This article is written by Shayne Jiang, Consultant at Allied Environmental Consultants Limited.