In 2015, the United Nations issued its blueprint for improving the future of the people of the world with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals comprise the humanitarian agenda of the United Nations for the next 15 years and aim to achieve a better future for all mankind by addressing the major challenges the world faces including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace and justice. The goal is to achieve these goals by 2030.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations said that these goals cannot be achieved without the contributions and involvement of business, and fortunately, the largest and most successful American businesses in America have signed on to make them a reality. The United State Council for International Business has kept a tally of the business contributions; here is a sample from businesses that we all recognize:
Mastercard implemented a program to make financial systems more accessible to 300 million more people. They have so far connected 40 million micro and small merchants to the formal economy.
McDonalds trains farmers in Central America to produce coffee in a more sustainable way.
Chevron invested 1.5 million dollars to increase pediatric health care among the indigenous population of Colombia.
Pfizer has increased access to immunization against pneumonia by committing to provide 740 million doses of vaccine to countries with the highest pneumonia rate at their lowest price.
Levi Straus has contributed more than 60 million dollars to HIV/AIDS clinics in 40 countries since 1983.
Microsoft deployed cost effective connectivity to 104 Kindergarten to 12th grade schools and to nine universities on five continents. They are now connected to the internet.
Google provided free app accounts to educational institutions across Asia Pacific.
GAP promotes gender equality around the world and was the first company to disclose its equal pay for equal practices program.
Citi issued a 500 million social bond to expand finances for women-owned enterprises in low income communities and in emerging markets.
Cargill pledged to eliminate deforestation across its agricultural supply chain.
This is just a small sample of the response of American business, some of whom we are proud to have as clients. But we are not nearly there yet. The Economist estimated that the world will need an investment two to three trillion dollars per year for every one of the 15 years. As the years go by the population will increase and it is estimated that by 2024 there will be eight billion people in the world. It is also estimated that we will need 600 million new jobs by 2030 to improve conditions for 780 million workers so that they will earn more than two dollars per day to be above the poverty line.
The nations of the world and American businesses have accepted the challenge to improve the lives of all people. It behooves those of us who are involved in the global economy to be aware of our world events and contribute to its improvement at every opportunity.
Walter Reichman, Ed.D, is a partner and vice president at OrgVitality. Dr. Reichman is also the main NGO representative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations from the International Association of Applied Psychology and the president of the Psychology Coalition at the UN. In that capacity, he brings information about the UN to organizations around the world and psychological insights and research to the deliberations of the UN. For more information, email Dr. Reichman directly.
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