UN Sustainable Development Goals – A New Role for Business?


One year after the adoption of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) the European Commission unveiled its Communication on the next steps for a sustainable European future: European action for sustainability. It maps EU’s policies that contribute to the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and launches a reference indicator framework to measure progress from 2017 onwards. Together with the 230 global indicators that are already in place to track progress against the 17 Goals and 169 targets, this Communication provides more clarity to business about opportunities to engage in sustainable development initiatives. It shows that current and planned policies address all 17 goals. Major ongoing policies such as the Circular Economy Package, Energy Union, Capital Markets Union, Innovation Union, Digital Single Market, the Common Agricultural Policy, and the external Agenda for Change aim at targets that fall under most of the goals.

Together with the revised Consensus for Development and Juncker’s new European External Investment Plan (EIP) that aims to unlock investments in Africa and EU neighbourhood countries, the Communication creates the policy infrastructure for the business to contribute to the SDGs in Europe and in developing countries. Work towards achieving the 2030 Agenda can now start in earnest with the eager participation of the private sector.

In this snapshot we take a look at the evolution of private sector engagement with the UN development goals, from Millennium to Sustainable, and explore how business can contribute.

Mariana Varbanova is Senior Consultant at FTI Consulting’s agrichemicals team in Brussels.

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