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Collaboration over competition

22 May, 2020

There is just under a decade to achieve the targets set out in the Sustainable Development Goals. Achieving them was already in doubt before March of this year with some estimates suggesting at least US$3 trillion of investment was needed to get back on track. And COVID-19 has set progress back considerably – from education and gender parity to decent work and of course public health, there are few areas of our social and environmental footprint that are not affected by the current situation.  

With the goals in the spotlight, the “Cinderella goal” that is Goal 17 – Partnership for the Goals – has come to the fore. Adjacent to the other goals, integral to their success but different enough to them, Goal 17 has often felt like something of an afterthought.

However, what we’ve seen over the past two months is a concerted effort to work in partnership to achieve meaningful change – businesses working with NGOs, and with each other, to address the challenges we’ve faced and overcome obstacles that would have seemed insurmountable just a few months ago, and to dial up collective action and advocacy.

This week, 150 of the world’s largest companies have come together to push world leaders to incorporate a net zero economy transition into their economic recovery plans post-pandemic. Businesses are calling on governments to support and work with them to build back better by prioritising green initiatives alongside economic needs – part of an ongoing shift towards businesses pushing for change, rather than governments having to enforce greener policies on businesses. Backed by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), this is an extension of its more recent emphasis on its more activist wing and has significant clout from the number of multinational signatories.

We are genuinely better together, and we hope we’ll see these collaborations and partnerships between companies become part of our new future. Perhaps it’s time for Goal 17 to be the first port of call, rather than the last, when thinking about the SDGs.

By Cara McEvoy

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