“The progress being made is not fast enough to transform our society by 2030.”

These words from Nikhil Seth, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, are concerning.

Speaking at CEOE’s VIII Business Forum on Innnovation and Sustainability last month,

Mr. Seth reflected on countries’ progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the 17 goals established as part of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development created in 2015. Although the global society has come closer to reaching a few of the goals – extreme mortality and poverty have fallen, marine protection has increased, unemployment is down – we are falling short in most of the objectives set by the agenda (You can see the full 2018 SDG Progress Report here).

Where do businesses fit into all this?

According to Antonio Garamendi, President of CEOE, it is businesses that need to be taking the lead in the implementation of the SDGs. Society is increasingly demanding sustainability, and businesses need to respond. The good news, explained Secretary of Commerce Xiana Margarida Méndez Bértolo, is that innovation and sustainability are closely related to competitiveness. Businesses need to be viewing sustainability as a tool for growth and development, rather than as an impediment. Innovation is key, and the businesses who position themselves within emerging sectors will be at an advantage – especially if they make sustainability a priority.