Articles & Features

Positioning your Business for Sustainability vis-a-vis the UN Sustainable Development Goals

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As 2015 draws to a close, the curtains are also drawing on the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
While the debate is on about whether this programme was successfully implemented and the impacts are being measured especially in relations to how it has improved the lives of people around the world in real terms (Developing Countries in particular), the first draft of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been published in August 215 and a plenary meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations will be convened in September to take action on a draft resolution and to kick start Implementation of the SDGs over the next 15 years.

Millennium Development Goals

Below is a list of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*
Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

From the above list, we can deduce that the core focus areas of the SDGs will be: Food Security, Health, Education, Environment, Gender equality, Trade, Infrastructure, Water, Energy, Security and Governance.

While Government is often the major stakeholder in driving the implementation of these goals, private sector involvement has always been critical for it to have the desired trickle down effect in the local communities.

The outlook for Businesses in the coming years is positive as the Sustainable Development Goals give a platform for SMEs inclusion more than any previous programme by the United Nations.

Goals 8, 9 and 17 are especially good news for the SMEs- Investment in Infrastructure and enabling environment for industrialisation, promotion of policies that would support innovation, job creation, entrepreneurship and the drive towards trade promotion across countries will provide the backdrop for sustainability for SMEs globally.

What role do Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses in developing countries have to play in actualising these Sustainable Development Goals which will be at the fore burner of the United Nations agenda for the next 15 years?

The sectors covered by the SDGs are quite broad based as highlighted above. If you are an SME, you are likely to be playing in these fields already. You just need to be creative in finding the innovation that will allow your business align with these goals by adding values that solve one or more of the problems the SDGs seeks to address. In setting your Business objectives for the medium to long term, it will be apt to see how they align with the SDGs.

If your business is going to be relevant and sustainable in the coming years, you need to answer the question “How is my Business going to help the world achieve its goals?”

We welcome your comments and you can share your thoughts with us on this topic by sending a mail to

Thank you!

Bukola is Founder, and apart from being a blogger, She is a travel consultant with over 13years industry experience; She also holds a Masters degree in Public and International Affairs (MPIA). She is passionate about helping small businesses harness opportunities to grow their business and runs a group on Facebook called ‘WomenOwned’. You can be reach her by mail-

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