In September 2015, 17 sustainable development goals were announced. With the backing of 193 world leaders, if successful, they have the power to put an end to extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030.
During events and meetings at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in New York last year, I caught myself wondering – which is the most important sustainable development goal? Is there a more noble and urgent cause than to end poverty (Goal #1) and hunger (Goal #2) in the world? Maybe ensuring healthy lives for all human beings (Goal #3)? What about the importance of taking the transformative power of education to all (Goal #4) and ensuring full gender equality (Goal #5)? Clean water (Goal #6) and energy (Goal #7) are essential items to life, which, by the 21st century, should not be lacking in any community or home. And the same goes for everyone’s right to have a decent and productive job (Goal #8).
Interestingly, many of these goals could be achieved if our industries, infrastructure and innovations were focused on making our lives better (Goal #9), and not only on making money. It would also help a great deal if businesses and society as a whole adopted more sustainable patterns of production and consumption (Goal #12). But none of these will make any sense if we are not here to witness, so we must improve our relationship with our home, Earth, urgently combating climate change (Goal #13) and sustainably using the oceans (Goal #14) and forests (Goal #15).
All of the large-scale challenges we face today demand big changes in the way we see and do things – political, economic, cultural and technological changes. This transformation, of course, cannot be promoted by a single country, sector or organisation, and if we really want a more sustainable and equitable society for all, we all need to engage and work in partnership. Hence the overwhelming importance of Global Goal #17: strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development.
In my lifetime, two long-term partners and I have grown a business, once based in a garage, into the leading cosmetics company – Natura. We did this based on the belief that we are all interdependent and that we must take care of each other and mother earth, if we want to grow our own success and happiness. In the last three decades, Natura has been part of most major movements for sustainable business worldwide. I’ve also personally worked to go beyond the company’s walls and disseminate Natura’s corporate culture – trying to collectively redefine success in business.
I’ve participated in the creation of organisations that are dedicated to causes such as corporate social responsibility, citizenship and sustainable urban development and broad-based movements for climate action – such as Fórum Clima and the Brazilian Coalition, which have supported the development of a robust low-carbon economy in Brazil and abroad.
The aim of my personal engagement in these initiatives has always been to try to build convergence, to bring focus and to help people come together around common priorities and interests. It’s for those same reasons that I joined The B Team, alongside Richard and other friends. I believe that one plus one makes way more than two, when you’re willing to live with the different, disagree cheerfully, unite agendas and build commitment around them – that’s when real change happens.
The same goes to the new global goals, which certainly will not be achieved without a strong global partnership that enhances financial and technological cooperation. We need leaders from business, civil society and politics, both in developed and developing countries, to engage and work together. We have the resources and now we must make the best use of them. If we build the right conditions for addressing Global Goal #17, we'll be on the path to achieve all of the others.
- Read more blogs about the Global Goals by visiting the series homepage.
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