Today, you can take a step towards leading a more sustainable life. Your awareness and understanding of the 17 essential goals allow you to make positive everyday changes.
2015 was a landmark year for our progress towards a sustainable society. As well as the Paris Agreement, we received news of a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With just 15 years before the 2030 deadline, we were encouraged to act fast. However, six years later, much more work needs to be done to achieve these goals.
What exactly is an SDG?
In September 2015, 17 SDGs were agreed upon by the United Nations. These 17 goals link to 169 targets. The goals break down fundamental problems experienced in our global society. By completing them, the UN aims to address poverty, as well as climate change.
These 17 goals are summarised with snappy phrases:
- No poverty
- Zero hunger
- Good health and wellbeing
- Quality education
- Gender equality
- Clean water and sanitation
- Affordable and clean energy
- Decent work and economic growth
- Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
- Reduced inequalities
- Sustainable cities and communities
- Responsible consumption and production
- Climate action
- Life below water
- Life on land
- Peace, justice and strong institutions
- Partnerships for the goals
As a collection, the goals are an urgent call to action.
Why are SDGs important?
Fundamentally, SDGs are important for equality, health, and sustainability. Every citizen deserves access to healthcare, education, and decent work. With SDGs in mind, meeting people’s basic needs should be possible in the near future.
Despite the effects of the climate crisis becoming more and more evident, we are still not doing enough to stop it. The environmental impact is bad enough, but the human impact is not to be ignored. In the UK, deaths caused by climate change are predicted to rise at an alarming rate.
Agriculture has been hit hard by climate change. With droughts and flooding becoming more commonplace, people’s livelihoods are continually affected. Not only does this affect famers’ income, but also global hunger.
Living in the UK, it is difficult to imagine what it must be like to live without clean water or adequate healthcare. Nonetheless, in far too many places, sanitation is considered a luxury. It is important to realise that SDGs impact both developed and developing countries.
By fulfilling these aims, we can make a better future possible.
Ideally, all countries and corporations would comply with SDGs to make a positive impact. The amount of people who are unaware of SDGs might surprise you. Therefore, it is imperative that we spread the word.
To make SDGs a reality, everyone must work together.
Who are the key stakeholders?
You might be wondering what the plan is for these aims to become our reality. SDGs require huge, impressive commitments. The impact of the average person can feel small, but we all have a role to play. Without governments, businesses and the public striving for the same aims, these goals would be unreachable. So, by engaging on a personal level, you can make a difference.
Compromise and sacrifices must be made across all groups. Greed has been king for too long and it is time to rearrange our priorities. If we all made decisions based on the health of the planet, sustainable progress would be attainable.
The UN is the world's largest intergovernmental body with 193 member states. While each country may have unique concerns, all governments can make improvements.
One country doing incredible things to align its practices with SDGs is the Netherlands.
With more bikes than people, the Dutch are enviable when it comes to sustainable travel. Moreover, Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport recently became carbon neutral. In 2018, its overall energy consumption dropped by 4.5%, despite passenger numbers increasing by 3.7%. Air travel contributes senseless amounts of pollution into the atmosphere each year. So, switching to renewable energy is truly commendable.
Businesses, both great and small, will play a huge role in achieving SDGs. They have the power to both educate and engage the public.
The UN estimates that annual SDG investment needs to be between 5 – 7 trillion dollars. So, sectors of the UN are working with companies to ensure that this target is met.
At Coromandel Coast, we love the B Corp story which is why we have initiated their certification process. The certification ensures businesses meet the highest standards social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. Did you know there are 430 B Corps in the UK spanning 48 industries with a combined revenue of £4.8 billion? This gives us so much hope.
A good example of a business making a difference is #TOGETHERBAND. It aims to raise public awareness of what the SDGs stand for. They sell wristbands, masks, and water bottles. The wristbands are handmade in Nepal by women rescued from human trafficking. For every medical mask sold, they donate one to someone in need. Plus, buying one water bottle funds the collection of 1000 plastic bottles. They invest the money raised from product sales into life-changing projects.
- The Public
Living in the western world, it is easy to turn a blind eye to suffering around us. Life is increasingly fast-paced, and we have so many distractions. However, by reading this post, you have taken the first step to help achieve these essential SDGs. The issue is not that we do not want to help, it is our awareness of the problems at hand.
Something we can all do is hold businesses and governments accountable. Supply follows demand, so show the corporations you care by altering your shopping habits. Also, if you spot something that could be improved, write an email to your MP. For example, many UK councils do not offer food waste collection. Think of all the landfill space that accounts for. If enough people demand something, change can happen. Knowledge is power!
Agriculture and SDGs
Improving our agricultural systems plays an indispensable role in achieving SDGs. Each country’s economy, environment and communities are significantly affected by agriculture. This means any changes in its system can alter lives in a vast variety of ways. Agriculture does not only link to goal, but almost every other SDG.
A lot has been done to provide food for our rapidly growing population. However, 815 million people are hungry, and every third person is malnourished. Without nutrition, children cannot learn, and societies cannot work productively. Hence, addressing world hunger should be a top priority before other SDGs can be achieved in these areas.
In the past, ‘growing more food with less’ has been the dominant school of thought. However, the focus must switch to crop quality and diversity as well as linking productivity to sustainability. Therefore, technology from the private sector and government policy, must work together. Excessive deforestation and monocrops should cease to be common practice.
This year The UN Food Systems Summit will be held. Its aim is to start initiatives to boost more sustainable and equitable food systems. The result of this will call governments, businesses, and citizens to action. Everyone buys and wastes food, so we are all responsible for making change.
Next time you do a food shop, try to be mindful of the origins of what you buy. The Fairtrade and Soil Association logos are symbols to look out for when making choices.
The Coffee Industry and SDGs
The coffee industry has developed a poor reputation for sustainability. Growing coffee accounts for a lot of pollution, chemical usage and sub-par working conditions. Also, traditional shade-grown plants have been replaced by sun-grown coffee, further damaging ecosystems. For more information on coffee growing methods and their impact, see our previous blog post.
The destruction caused by coffee means we must choose beans that we know to be sustainably sourced and grown. The reality is that coffee can be grown without exploiting the planet and the people who grow it. It is easy to switch to planet-friendly beans and they taste delectable.
Our coffee will always be shade-grown. Through ensuring that we source our beans from traditional farmers, we align our actions with goals 13 and 15.
Coromandel Coast is a profit-for-purpose business. To avoid the ambiguity surrounding the term sustainable, we define it in a clear way. Ensuring economic, social, and environmental sustainability is our priority. Hence, we pay farmers three to four times the commodity price for coffee. This contributes towards realising goals one, two and eight.
Further, at FILTR, our coffee shop in South Croydon, we are strongly committed to using compostable packaging made from plant-based material. Our 100% plastic-free packaging lends a hand to achieve goal 14.
Striving to accomplish SDGs is an epic, yet essential journey. Without the joint effort of government, business and the public, we will reach 2030 and feel disappointed. Therefore, we must act, as well as preach. Overnight change is not possible. Rather, continued gradual improvements can realise our dream.
We encourage you to look at the SDG website to discover what you can do. From using less plastic, to donating to a charity, there are so many ways you can make a difference.
So, what small positive change are you making today?