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SHAPING OUR FUTURE: SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

Since 2015, the signatory states of the 2030 Agenda are committed to promote sustainable development worldwide, and to define policies and intervention strategies to establish coordination and cooperation among multiple actors at multiple levels. 

Words By Martina Cocchi and Chiara Foggi

17/10/2021

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were set in 2015 by the international community as part of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through which countries of the world collectively pledged to eradicate poverty, find sustainable and inclusive development solutions, ensure human rights for all, and generally make sure that no one is left behind by 2030.

To do that, 17 SDGs have been defined, with 169 associated targets. They take into account the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and ecological – in a balanced manner. For the first time, a single policy document brings together sustainable development and the fight against poverty. The Sustainable Development Goals are to be achieved globally by all UN member states by 2030. This means that every country on the planet is called upon to make its contribution to jointly tackle these major challenges. Switzerland is also required to implement the goals at a national level. In addition, incentives must be found to encourage non-governmental stakeholders to become more actively involved in sustainable development.

The Goals and targets will stimulate action in areas of crucial importance to humanity and the planet in the coming years.

People

Determination to end poverty and hunger, in all forms and dimensions.

Planet

Protection of the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations.

Prosperity

Ensuring that all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature.

Peace

Determination to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence.

Partnership

A revitalized Global Partnership for Sustainable Development is required to implement the Agenda. The interlinkages and integrated nature of the Sustainable Development Goals are of crucial importance in ensuring that the purpose of the new Agenda is realized.

Where are we now?

The European SDG 2020 Index and Dashboard released that no European country had achieved the SDGs before the COVID-19 propagation, nor was it on track to do so. According to the Report, the best results were recorded against the socio-economic targets, including SDG 1 (Zero Poverty), SDG 3 (Health and well-being) and SDG 6 (Clean water and sanitation). On the other hand, European countries score negatively against SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), SDG 13 (Climate Action), SDG 14 (Life Under Water) and SDG 15 (Life on Earth).

Moreover, within the European Union, there is also a clear degree of convergence between the states considering that, as of 2015, the sub-regions with the lowest scores on the SDG index (Baltic countries, Central and Eastern Europe, Southern Europe) continue to progress faster that the regions with the highest scores on the index (Northern Europe and Western Europe). Based on current results, Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) predicts that it will take 21, 20 and 25 years respectively for the Baltic States, Southern Europe and Central and Eastern Europe to reach the average score of Northern Europe, the best performing sub-region to date.

The SDSN, in partnership with Esri (Environmental System Research Institute) and the National Geographic Society, launched “SDGs Today: The Global Hub for Real-Time SDG Data” in July 2020. SDGs Today aims to advance the production and use of real-time and geo-referenced data for the SDGs with a one-of-a-kind data platform, education and training resources. The initiative encourages countries, institutions, and civil society members to produce, share and engage with the data to help ensure that we meet the Global Goals by 2030.

Responsible Consumption and Production?

As of today, we are experiencing overconsumption. This poses a threat to our ecosystems. Indeed, to guarantee a sustainable, economic and social development, we have to undertake a radical change in our ways of production and consumption. 

This goal promotes the UN’s plan for a sustainable model of production and consumption. The aim is to adopt an environmentally friendly approach to chemical products and waste, including upcycling and recycling initiatives. In particular, as reported by the European Commission (2021), the main goals are: 

  • “halving global food waste per capita and ensuring the efficient and sustainable use of natural resources by 2030
  • fighting pollution, reducing the overall waste generation, and improving the management of chemicals and toxic wastes
  • supporting companies’ transition to green infrastructures and practices
  • making sure everyone everywhere is fully informed of ways to live in harmony with nature and eventually adopts thoughtful habits”

In achieving that, both companies and people will have a stake: the former will need to move towards a sustainable model of doing business, the latter will have to include sustainable criterias in their buying behaviors.

SDGs at Staiy: where we focus our attention

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the evaluation’s main textual reference. They are composed of 17 worldwide agreed objectives which aim to be accomplished by 2030, ensuring sustainable development.

At Staiy, sustainability is in our DNA. We make sure to incorporate the SDGs into our evaluation, ensuring Staiy is aligned with internationally agreed standards of values and behaviours. We believe that all SDGs are of equal importance. However, these are the ones on which we focus continuously:

  • Goal 6: Access to Clean Water 
  • Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth 
  • Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production 
  • Goal 13: Climate Action 

The questions in our Brands’ Evaluation Survey also stem from highly renowned organizations, namely the Global Reporting Initiative, CDP and the UN Global Compact. These organizations assess a business’ sustainability performance in relation to climate change and human rights. Other key references for our Staiy Sustainability Evaluation are: World Resources Institute, World Bank, Fashion Industry Pulse, and Ellen MacArthur Foundation, among many other research papers and scientific reports.

To further define the rank of each question, we research and obtain further relevant evidence from scientific bodies such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). At the end of the evaluation, brands receive our so-called Impact Points for each pillar which is shown on our website. To know more about our Sustainability Evaluation, read our article or visit our Sustainability web-page on our Staiy.com.

Conclusive remarks and future perspectives 

As reported by La Repubblica (2020), the global fashion industry has identified the sustainable turnaround as one of the main strategic objectives for its business, second only to improving customer satisfaction. However, according to half of the respondents, the impact of the pandemic could make sustainability a lower priority within the industry. 

Despite this statement, Top Managers say they are introducing sustainability measures throughout the production chain. This includes the procurement of sustainably produced raw materials, but also an approach based on the circular economy, the reduction of GHG and investment in new technologies. Overall, the majority is optimistic that even fast fashion can be both affordable and sustainable. But while company leaders say they have a good amount of data on supplier sustainability practices, 45% companies do not track their GHG emissions, while 41% do not track the amount of water and energy used in their production.

It is clear that the path towards sustainable development is still long ahead, but here at Staiy we are committed and proud to take part in this journey.