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The world’s plan to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs is 1000 days old today!

This plan, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the “Global Goals”, was adopted by the 193 countries of the United Nations General Assembly on September 25, 2015.

Science tells us that nutrition in the first 1000 days of life is inextricably linked to a person’s lifetime potential. It makes me wonder if the SDGs have been well-nourished.

Beyond making commitments of support for the global goals are we in business, society and government doing all we can to give the SDGs their best chance?

If by nourishment we mean making progress on the SDGs’ 17 goals and 169 indicators, The 2018 Sustainable Development Goals report gives us a wake-up call.

Next month’s release of National Voluntary Reviews by 48 countries at the UN will hold insights into the progress nations are making globally. So, too, will next month’s 2018 SDG Index and Dashboard Report (Australia ranked 20th in 2016).

Currie’s corporate partner, the Banksia Foundation, is in no doubt Australia can do more on the SDGs, launching the Banksia Ignite challenge at 2018 Vivid Sydney last week to alert us to the opportunity that remains locked inside the SDGs.

Two studies that look at progress in Australia, the Think Impact SDGs Report and the SDG Transforming Australia project reveal that more needs to be done.

At Currie, we’re lucky to work with leaders from government, science, business and society on sustainability strategy, stakeholder engagement and storytelling.

Recently, our SDGs work has included preparing a case study for the new Australian SDGs web site and writing submissions for Australia’s first National Voluntary Review, launched by the Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop last week.

We’ve also mapped the goals and targets in the Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Framework against the SDGs and prepared an annual update on sustainability for the Australian beef industry.

There are five steps to take with the SDGs. Commitment is the starting point.

1. Commitment

A public statement of commitment to the SDGs by senior leaders in the organisation.

2. Mapping

  1. Understand the goals and targets​
  2. Identify positive & negative impacts, risks & opportunities along value chain​
  3. Map material issues to SDG goals and targets​
  4. Identify gaps​

3. Aligning

  1. Review & align business strategy and targets with SDG goals & targets​
  2. Identify indicators and collect data​

4. Taking action

  1. Build internal awareness and capacity​
  2. Develop projects and partnerships​
  3. Create or adjust systems and programs

5. Reporting

  1. Measuring contributions to SDGs – qualitative and quantitative ​
  2. Communicating progress towards SDGs​
  3. Public reporting

Food and agriculture is a big part of what we do at Currie. When it comes to telling stories about food – or more to the point, nutrition – the fact is that the world needs better nutrition – not more food. Good nutrition is a pre-condition for a productive life. So, after 1000 days of life for the SDGs, let’s ask the question in every workplace: ‘Are we doing all we can to give the SDGs their best chance?’

If you’re not sure how to get moving on the SDGs, reach out to UN Global Compact (or if you are in Australia, Global Compact Network Australia), read the SDG Compass or ask us.

The SDGs are not perfect. Like their architects, humans, they are flawed, yet the SDGs are the only plan we have to protect the planet and each other from the calamity of unsustainable development.

About Mark Paterson

Mark’s first job was milking cows. An award-winning career in journalism followed. These days when he's not trying to save coral reefs in Indonesia, dreaming about playing tennis on the Masters circuit or raising three kids in a blended family he thrives on consulting work that connects profit with people and planet. The son of corgi breeders, Mark would like to change the world for the better. Read more posts by Mark.

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