All you need to know about the SDGs

Everyone is talking about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but… what do they really mean? Who should meet them? Do they serve any purpose?

1. What does “sustainable development” mean?

Very different definitions of “sustainable development” and “sustainability” have coexisted for years. Following the publication of the SDGs, the UN has agreed on the following definition: “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

According to the UN, in order to achieve a sustainable development, it is essential to harmonize three essential elements: “economic growth, social inclusion and the environmental protection.” These three points are also different from previous approaches, much more focused on the environment.

2. What are the SDGs?

The Sustainable Development Goals are the master plan approved by all member states of the United Nations in September 2015 to achieve a more sustainable future for all. They are considered the heirs of the Millennium Development Goals 2000-2015 (MDGs) and seek to build on the success achieved with them and to achieve those goals that were not met.

The SDGs are divided into 17 goals, which range from the eradication of poverty, the fight against climate change or the extension of quality education to gender equality, environmental action or the design of cities. Each of them is divided into different targets, resulting in a total of 169 goals to be met before 2030.

3. Who should meet them?

Those in charge of meeting the SDGs are all member states of United Nations, which have often taken them as a reference for the development of their own policies.  

But their implication goes beyond any legislative work. The business community has accepted the SDGs as guidelines to identify if their social, economic and environmental impact provides value to society and as a tool to strengthen their reputation and their links to other stakeholders. In fact, studies by various consulting firms directly relate the achievement of these goals to a long-lasting commercial success.

The business community has accepted the SDGs as guidelines to identify if their social, economic and environmental impact provides value to society

4. Are the SDGs really being met?

The 2019 edition of The Sustainable Development Goals Report by the UN indicated that “progress is being made in some critical areas,” such as the reduction of poverty the mortality of children under the age of 5, the extension of vaccination o the access to electricity. Some of the areas that require “urgent collective action” are the deterioration of the natural environment at an alarming pace, new violent conflicts or the increased vulnerability to natural disasters.

The country-by-country monitoring carried out by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the Bertelsmann Stiftung is highly interesting.

5. How can we contribute to the achievement of the SDGs?

On an individual level, The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World compiles the “small” actions we can do in our day-to-day life to help achieve the SDGs.

As an organization, Roca Group’s historical vision of value creation fully aligns with the SDGs in the three main pillars of sustainability:

Economic: keeping a solvent and profitable organization.

Social: extending a work model of maximum quality, efficiency and performance.

Environmental, at two levels. First, minimizing the environmental impact of the industrial activity; secondly, offering products that contribute to the improvement of the quality of life and comfort of users, without compromising future environmental resources.

The activity of the We Are Water Foundation, created and driven by Roca, needs to be highlighted, as it works to raise awareness and provide education on a new water culture and supports the most disadvantageous communities in cooperation projects on access to water and improved sanitation. As an institution that collaborates with the UN, the We Are Water Foundation also carries out a very important work in disseminating information on the SDGs.