OPINION: Why the ‘people’s agenda’ for sustainable development is also the business agenda
Monday, September 14, 2015
The 193 member states of the United Nations last month unveiled a new global agenda for sustainable development. The 15-year plan, titled Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is set to be formally endorsed by world leaders in New York this month and will come into force at the beginning of next year.
It certainly is an ambitious vision. According to the UN, the plan’s 17 goals and 169 targets “aim to end poverty, promote prosperity and people’s well-being while protecting the environment by 2030”. Building on the Millennium Development Goals, which are reported to have helped to lift more than 700 million people out of poverty since 1990, the new agenda is underpinned by a bold pledge that “no one will be left behind”.
There is nothing new about sustainable development. Without embarking on a lengthy history, the term dates back at least as far as the Brundtland Report of 1987.
However, the UN believes that what makes its 2030 plan unique is that “it calls for action by all countries – poor, rich and middle-income” to make sustainable development a reality. In fact, its member states have indicated that a business-as-usual approach will not get the job done and have called for “intensified international cooperation on many fronts” to help implement the new agenda.
It is worth considering where the countries of the Middle East fit into this. After all, ours is a region that defies easy categorisation.