UNGC Global Roadshow
Back in 2017, the UK won the prize of having the worst awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Europe. The European Commission’s Special Eurobarometer 455 on EU Citizens’ views on development, cooperation and aid scored the UK at just 14%, whilst at the other end of the spectrum, Finland scored 73%.
The SDGs, also known as the Global Goals, were adopted in 2015 by all 192 member states of the United Nations after the largest public consultation ever undertaken. They are aimed at addressing the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, and peace and justice. Often described as ‘the closest thing the world has to a strategy', former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon went as far as calling them a ‘paradigm shift for people and planet’.
Realising the Goals will require all players to champion this agenda – governments, civil society, academia, and particularly the business community. As the UK Network of the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, we embarked on a new mission: to raise awareness of the SDGs, explaining why they represent unprecedented business risks and opportunities, and providing practical guidance for action. To date, we have organised three annual Global Goals Roadshows, comprising 32 free events, visiting all major UK cities and engaging thousands of people.
For this year’s edition, we formed a strategic partnership with Impact to complement our expertise, co-designing the programmes and delivering them together on the ground. This collaboration has yielded results beyond our expectations, with Impact providing what they are unrivalled for: energy, interactivity, and disruption.
Attracting 630 attendees overall, the 2019 Global Goals Roadshow featured nine practical workshops as well as a flagship conference. Informed by the SDG Compass, the workshops helped delegates to take their organisations’ engagement with the Goals to the next level, regardless of which stage they were at before. 96% of the attendees found the experience valuable and 92% stated that they will be able to apply what they have learnt.
In parallel, ‘Making Global Goals Local Business UK’ was a sell-out conference, in which 300 delegates shared ideas and strategies on how business can take the lead on the Global Goals in the UK. Both the UN Global Compact and Impact’s CEO David Williams contributed to the discussion, among other distinguished corporate sustainability leaders, investors, and representatives from the UK Government, UN bodies, civil society and academia.
While progress on the Goals is still nowhere near where it should be, one should understand that change cannot happen overnight. The SDGs have set a behemothian task, with lots of pressure on the private sector to get involved and dramatically change the way it operates. In that respect, it is very unlikely that companies will align their strategies to the Goals if they have not clearly understood why they should do so in the first place, let alone if they don’t even know what they are. Hence our gradual approach from awareness raising to stimulating action.
These roadshows have been tremendously refreshing, because they have demonstrated just how much is happening. In any organisation evolving in any sector, there are catalysts of change who are passionately striving to make the Global Goals a reality by challenging the status-quo. Organisations are all on a journey, with some having already fully aligned their strategy to this agenda, and others still trying to understand where to start. Our role, along with Impact, has been to empower them to take a step forward.
Watch the case study video here.