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3. September 2020

The 2020s are the make-or-break decade for Sustainability. But Covid-19 questions almost everything. How can we handle increasingly frequent shocks? What can a resilient society and economy that is in line with planetary boundaries look like? These and many other questions are discussed in the new 2020 edition of the Global Goals Yearbook titled „Planet under Pressure“. The Yearbook supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals and is one of the publications in strong international demand.

The Covid-19 pandemic is keeping the world in suspense in 2020 and beyond. By declaring a “lockdown,” countries around the world have temporarily frozen their social, economic, and cultural lives in order to slow the spread of the virus. When such unexpected events occur, experts speak of “asymmetric shocks.” If such crisis-like external influences are to a certain extent unavoidable, then the logical question is: What about our ability to adapt to such shocks? The ideas of vulnerability and resilience have recently gained a high level of prominence in the current economic and political debates. Specifically “resilience” has become a standard term in the OECD, the EU, and the G20 conference formats.

Purely in terms of the number of mentions, the concept of “resilience” is in the process of supplanting that of “sustainability” due to the frequency with which it is being used in (economic) political discourse. The term also runs the risk of becoming a filler word to give new emphasis to old demands.

Living with the crisis: “The new normal“?

However, the pandemic is not the only crisis in recent times: The last decade has been characterized by a whole series of severe shocks. The intervals between them appear to be getting shorter and shorter: the financial crisis in 2008/2009, the refugee crisis in 2015, Brexit (and, as a result, an EU integration crisis), unbelievable losses of biodiversity, increases in extreme weather events due to climate change, to name but a few.

And it will not be the last crisis: In the aftermath of the lockdown, there are already signs of an impending global food crisis that is due to destroy supply chains, and a debt crisis – right up to national bankruptcy – due to the economic consequences of the pandemic.

How does resilience work in practice?

The answers to these developments will be crucial in determining the strategies for the post–Covid-19 world. From a transformation point of view, the moment when there is less stability is the moment when there is a potential for much deeper and stronger change. Everybody feels that the future is much more open than it used to be. How that moment of instability is used depends on who is putting forward what kind of ideas, who has influence, and who gets more to say and to decide. A very vivid panel discussion with Emily Auckland (UKSSD), Julian Hill-Landolt (WBCSD), Maja Goepel (Scientists for Future), and Pietro Bertazzi (CDP) clearly shows the connection between sustainability, crisis, reconstruction, and pitfalls.

An exclusive interview with EU Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, who is responsible for economic affairs as well as the SDGs, highlights the link between society, economy, and the environment. We talk about state opportunities, global interdependencies, and the dilemma of sustainability as a community and generational task.

This brings us to the important point that crises not only change systems, but also the people in the system. If acceleration is the problem, then the solution, argues the well-known sociologist Hartmut Rosa, lies in “resonance.” The quality of a human life cannot be measured simply in terms of resources, options, and moments of happiness, Rosa explains in an interview in this Yearbook. Instead, we must consider our resonance with the world.

The other aspect is health: As habitat and biodiversity losses increase globally, the novel coronavirus outbreak may be just the beginning of mass pandemics, says John Vidal. In his article, he warns that we are creating conditions for diseases such as Covid-19 to emerge.

 


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1. September 2019

 

What are companies for? The rules for companies have changed. The focus is increasingly on their sustainable, social, and ecological impacts. The strategic orientation toward the so-called corporate purpose is decisive for profitable growth in the future.

This currently results in a large number of questions for businesses: How do you find an inspiring and future-oriented corporate purpose, and how can it be aligned in such a way that it brings profitable growth and social responsibility in concert? The new 2019 edition of the Global Goals Yearbook offers answers to these crucial questions thanks to its consistent orientation toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals and a competent editorial board and author pool.

The driver of development is to a large extent competition for the best minds. But it is not only the human resources departments that are pushing the topic. Experts speak instead of “inclusive capitalism” and urge that all stakeholders be taken along, including boards of management, customers, and even fund managers. Responsible businesses have governance structures that monitor and advise on environmental, social, as well as financial issues. When leaders understand and thrive within the broader social and environmental con- texts in which their businesses operate, it signals to employees, investors, and key stakeholders just how important purpose really is.

What is business for? What role does and should business play in society? To what extent should it perform a public purpose alongside its commercial activities? How should the aspirations of humanity, as set out in the Sustainable Development Goals, be reflected in the objectives of business? John Elkington, doyen of the sustainability community, together with Richard Roberts writes: “Being a little more ‘sustainable’ than your peers will do little to insulate a company from external shocks caused by extreme weather or extreme politics. So companies are going to have to step up to become much more active and effective agents of systems change, unless they are content simply to be passengers on a voyage captained by the ghost of Milton Friedman, which appears to be headed toward the mother of all icebergs.”

This realignment is taking place in turbulent times. Planning was yesterday. Today we are constantly exposed to new surprises, and the biggest uncertainty factor is politics. Is an era of instability beginning? Uncertainty is not good. It disturbs our planning. That is a significant problem for the economy, for entire societies, and for each individual. Growing levels of uncertainty mean that our picture of the future is becoming increasingly blurred, which has an impact on economic development. Citizens and businesses are holding back, purchases are being postponed, and investment plans are being cut back.

Climate change will have the greatest impact on those living in poverty, but it also threatens democracy and human rights, according to an UN expert. “Even if current targets are met, tens of millions will be impoverished, leading to wide- spread displacement and hunger,” says the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston. „We risk a ‘climate apartheid’ scenario, where the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger, and conflict while the rest of the world is left to suffer.”

Global Goals Yearbook 2019
Münster 2019: macondo publishing, 172 pages
ISBN: 978-3-946284-07-9


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21. August 2018

Presenting the Global Goals Yearbook 2018, with a Focus on Partnerships for the Goals

The future of the United Nations is more uncertain now than at any time before. Like his predecessors, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has promised to reform the United Nations. The drivers are two major agreements: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Accord. Both stand for a move away from statal, top-down multilateralism and toward a new form of partnership between the public and private sectors as well as civil society. But how can these new partnerships for the Global Goals look like? This is the main topic of the Global Goals Yearbook 2018, published under the auspices of the macondo foundation.

Our world is truly not sustainable at this time. To make the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development a success story, we need an enormous increase in effort. This cannot happen without help from the private sector. But businesses need a reason to contribute as well as attractive partnerships that are based on win-win constellations.

We have no alternative but to rethink the role that public–private partnerships can play in this effort. That is why United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is calling upon UN entities to strengthen and better align their private-sector engagement. In every change there is a new chance.

The Global Goals Yearbook 2018 discusses the many aspects of how private-sector engagement can be improved. Recommendations are, among other things, to revise multilateralism, partnership models, and processes as well as to invest more in trust, a failure culture, as well as metrics and monitoring.

When businesses engage in partnerships for the Goals, this is more than just signing checks. It means inserting the “do good” imperative of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into corporate culture, business cases, innovation cycles, investor relationships, and, of course, the daily management processes and (extra-)financial reporting.

The Yearbook includes arguments from academic and business experts, the World Bank, and the Club of Rome, as well as UN entities, among them UNDP, UNSSC, UNOPS, UN JIU, and UN DESA.

A core question concerns financing partnerships.

Sustainable development requires sustainable financing. UN sources estimate the need for financing the SDGs to be from $4 to 4.5 trillion annually. Current annual investments total about $1.5 trillion. So we are talking about an annual investment gap of $2.5 to $3 trillion. To close this gap, financing from private sources is needed, including from capital markets, institutional investors, and businesses. With private-sector engagement, not only does a new player enter the arena, but also new rules are being applied: “Financing” is a fundamentally different concept than the traditional idea of “funding.” It connects the “return on investment” concept with the SDGs. The question is: How do we combine social benefits with profit?

Good practices.

Corresponding to the idea of learning from role models, the Global Goals Yearbook 2018 includes 39 good practices of corporate participants that showcase different approaches to the implementation of the SDGs.

Global Goals Yearbook 2018
Münster 2018: macondo publishing, 172 pages
ISBN: 978-3-946284-05-5

About the Global Goals Yearbook:

The Global Goals Yearbook is a publication in support of the SDGs and the advancement of corporate sustainability globally. It offers proactive and in-depth information on key sustainability issues and promotes unique and comprehensive knowledge-exchange and learning in the spirit of the SDGs and the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact. The Global Goals Yearbook helps to advance corporate transparency, promotes the sharing of good business practices, and, perhaps most significantly, gives a strong voice to the regional and global stakeholders that are at the heart of the sustainability agenda.



14. November 2017

 

Each decade since the 1960s has been warmer than the previous one. And there is strong evidence that the current decade will reach another all-time high. So what to expect from the UN’s latest Climate Change Conference – COP23?

The conference is all about the „fine print“: The Paris Climate Change Agreement defines the goal: to hold global warming below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. But the questions is how? A particular emphasis will be on Article 6 of the Climate Agreement which allows use of market- based climate change mitigation mechanisms.

The UN Global Compact together with UN Environment and UNFCCC secretariat will convene a High-Level Meeting focussing on how the private sector can contribute to accelerating and enhancing NDC and SDG ambition and implementation leading up to key milestones.

Will we see success in Bonn? Let ́s cross fingers! There are many things that should happen at the Bonn climate talks but probably won’t, warns Marc Hudson in a worth-reading article.

What businesses already do to protect climate you can read in the new edition of the Global Compact International Yearbook. See our articles below!

  • The Global Momentum Must Be Continued
  • New Trends in Financing Climate Change
  • The Fossil Empire Strikes Back
  • Making Science Great Again – SBT-Initiative
  • 5 Steps Toward a Climate Management
  • Special: French Actress Marion Cotillard


1. September 2017

 

We live in times of uncertainty and global (dis)order. „Understanding global mega-trends is crucial. We live in times of multiple, evolving and mutually-reinforcing shifts“, says
UN Secretary-General António Guterres. He adds: „These dynamics, of geopolitical, demographic, climatic, technological, social and economic nature, enhance threats and opportunities on an unprecedented scale.“ Therefore sustainability in troubled times is the key topic of the Global Compact International Yearbook 2017, edited by macondo publishing.

In the opening essay, Elmer Lenzen, publisher of the Global Compact International Yearbook, takes a critical look at the relationship between democracy and globalization. For decades this combination was a formula for success. Now both are experiencing troubled times. UN Global Compact founding director Georg Kell and Princeton professor Larry Diamond, who are well- known figures in this field, explain some of the reasons why in a profound interview. One reason is that today’s world is becoming more fragmented. So how can sustainability work in these times?

It can work if we focus on the needs of the present without compromising the abilities of the future, says Global Compact Action Platform fellow Richard Roberts, and by utilizing the advantages of tomorrow. But doing the right thing in critical times is also a question of attitude. The entrepreneur Richard Branson and the actor Colin Firth both show in their own ways that sustainability means authenticity.

Other issues are

Post-Paris Climate Accord: What ́s next?

The Paris Climate Accord was one of the biggest diplomatic breakthroughs of the United Nations in the last years. It stands for the vision of multilateralism and the ability of the global community to set ambitious goals for itself. Therefore, the direction that the new US administration has taken is irritating, mainly because there is no way back – the global momentum must be continued, as CDP head Paul Simpson explains in his introductory review. Many new trends in financing climate change underpin this. The old fossil-fuels industry is losing ground because renewables have become competitive. Companies can substantially benefit from this, as the new Science Based Targets initiative of the Global Compact and others shows.

The Plastic Pledge

Worldwide plastic pollution is overwhelming our planet. Up to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic ends up in the ocean every year – threatening precious ecosystems and endangering human health. But it does not have to be this way. A growing number of companies are pledging to reduce their plastic consumption.

The Sustainable Development Goals in Japan

A critical aspect of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to leave no one behind. Cooperation between governments and the private sector that goes beyond geographical borders is imperative for achieving this goal. The global mission to propel the world a step closer to achieving the SDGs is one that intermittently intertwines business and individuals from various walks of life. However, it seems Japan and her people are too shy to transmit such efforts to the world. As a leader in technological innovation – a critical driving force in achieving the SDGs – Japan has great potential to also be a leader in bringing the world together to move forward with this collective goal. Introducing pieces by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs of Columbia University, and a joint report by IGES and GCNJ, this yearbook is the first attempt to offer an overview of the key players within Japan and the cross-country collaboration necessary for the country to grow into this role.

Corresponding to the idea of mutual learning, the Global Compact International Yearbook includes 37 good practices of corporate participants that showcase different approaches to the implementation of the Ten Principles of the Global Compact and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).