Transforming Our World: The European Union & the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Jan 16, 2018

ChangeMakers are realistic – we have big goals, and clear paths working towards them. Where we get our ideas from, and what paths to follow – are influenced by everything, from our direct environment of family and friends, to big international commitments.

It is easy to look at a big agreement, like the Sustainable Development Goals and think it is something for ‘the world’ to do. However ChangeMakers, see these things as a concrete space to sink teeth into and look at how great projects we are working on – actually contribute to goals. And also, take the goals as a guideline or idea of what also to work on next, or hook into something we have already started. Here is an outline, on the goals for those of us who are looking to see what it means for our work and how we can contribute.

What is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development?

“The 2030 agenda for sustainable development provides a common reference point to prioritise future efforts to benefit prosperity, the planet and people around the world, especially in developing countries. “

Included are the 17 Goals to Transform Our World:

  1. No Poverty
  2. Zero Hunger
  3. Good Health and Well-Being
  4. Quality Education
  5. Gender Equality
  6. Clean Water and Sanitation
  7. Affordable and Clean Energy
  8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  10. Reduced Inequalities
  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  13. Climate Action
  14. Life Below Water
  15. Life on Land
  16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  17. Partnerships for the Goals

How will the EU support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development?

“In June 2017, the EU will adopt a new European consensus on development which will align its development policy to the 2030 agenda.”

  • go beyond aid
  • bring together investment and trade
  • private sector contributions
  • domestic resource mobilisation
  • the promotion of good governance
  • rule of law and human rights, including a particular focus on youth, gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The EU’s plan is to foster sustainable growth and jobs (which has been an EU goal in the current presidency) in developing countries, eliminating migratory pressures and creating investment opportunities for European companies. ChangeMakers like us are very interested in this, because it is the coming together of the regulatory environment we work in, as well as the big international goals. My humble enterprise is a GMBH based in Germany, so I abide by national German law, European law and also want to see how to contribute to the elements that my regulatory environment sees as being relevant.

Essentially, on a micro level, they have been looking at measures to:

  • ensure macroeconomic stability
  • support key economic and social reforms
  • address market access barriers

With our work with the German Association for Green Economy, and the European Federation of Sustainable Business, I have seen that trade politics has growth a lot on the last years, and key issues addressed have been to:

  • find opportunities created by trade and investment agreements
  • overcome market access barriers, and even recently, things like farmer rights!
  • to promote strategic pan-European commercial projects
  • evolve international standards for new technologies
  • strengthening European business organisations abroad

Such focus has certainly been helpful for ChangeMaking projects and companies who see positive impact and economic development as going hand in hand. To achieve environmental goals, green business and economic parity is key to be working together.

Progressive trade and investment coincide with strategies to help the market work together to achieve the sustainable development goals. 

ChangeMakers like us see that the EU will need to take steps to improve social and labour standards and practices by working with the International Labour Organization, civil society, social partners and the private sector by setting up collective bargaining systems through efficient globalization.   Additionally, United Nations Human Rights Commission and the work on Duty of Vigilance and due diligence elements are also very useful.

The Paris agreement on climate change is another big agreement which ChangeMakers look to and serves to:

  • boost clean energy technologies
  • provide new business opportunities in clean energy technologies
  • gives a competitive advantage to companies reducing their carbon footprint

Next up on their agenda is to finalize the rules to help make sure all countries are contributing to CO2 emission reductions.

In context for ChangeMakers in the EU, we see a space to blaze a trail for ethical and environmental positive impact.

Where we are is the world’s largest single market, its largest trader and investor and the largest provider of development assistance. When we tap into that and contribute, we can be part of a  Europe which can influence the total development of impact. However, the key issue will be that European based law, combined with national ideals, and coming to the point at where us ChangeMakers spend our resources to see things happen.

We have read, that by 2050, no single European country will be among the top eight economies by size 17. So, the time for being a united market with a footprint is limited and that is what ChangeMakers like us do. We look beyond borders, and geographies, beyond tomorrow and into the next generation.