The global challenge posed by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals
Although the concept of sustainable development was first used officially in the Bruntland Report, published in 1987, it wasn’t until the UN General Assembly held in 2015 when countries across the globe signed the UN 2030 Agenda For Sustainable Development. A pivotal part of this agenda are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of goals and specific sets of tasks defined by the UN to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
This new international strategy laid out the blueprint for any development programs designed in the coming years, and urges States to allocate the required resources for implementing the SDGs and to foster public-private collaboration initiatives. The ultimate purpose of this Agenda is getting countries to realistically start tackling the crucial challenges that humanity faces, guaranteeing equal opportunities for everyone without risking the planet’s sustainability.
The 17 Goals were defined after more than two years of public consultations, negotiations between countries and meetings with the Third Sector, and place a special focus on the means of implementation to ensure that they can be realized, linking them integrally with the agreement of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for the Financing of Development.
The UN 2030 Agenda, together with the results of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, have been the basic roadmaps based on which the European Commission has defined the European Union's challenges for the 2030 horizon, which aim to contribute to building a better world and developing a global framework for international cooperation in sustainability matters, addressing all economic, social, environmental and governance dimensions
BBVA and the 17 SDGs
Although SDGs are discussed individually, the reality is that all goals are interrelated. Therefore, successfully achieving one goal requires defining strategies that follow a global approach, not only from the point of view of States, but also of businesses and companies, just as companies such as BBVA are proving:
- End poverty in all its forms, everywhere; for example, by promoting financial inclusion through activities and education centers that focus on initiatives such as microfinance.
- End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture; by, among other measures, supporting small farmers, offering them financial support.
- Ensure a healthy life and promoting well-being for all at all ages; this goal can be achieved, for example, by financing biomedicine and health research projects, through scholarships and grants.
- Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education, and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. In this sense, BBVA grants scholarships to people who would otherwise not have access to education and collaborates with academic entities.
- Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; by tearing down the barriers that prevent greater diversity in positions of responsibility or providing employee training to raise awareness about unconscious biases.
- Ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all; for example, laying out plans to curb and raise awareness about consumption or collaborating with companies developing innovative projects in this field.
- Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all; contributing to improve energy efficiency and promote the use of renewable energy by financing sustainable projects.
- Promote sustained and inclusive economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all. This is something that BBVA, for example, promotes with its commitment to promote the involvement of its stakeholders in pursuing to this goal or by collaborating with vulnerable entrepreneurs.
- Develop sustainable, resilient and inclusive infrastructures, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and encourage innovation. BBVA has pledged to mobilize up to €100 billion between 2018 and 2025 to fund sustainable projects, including infrastructure and agribusiness initiatives.
- Reduce inequalities within and among countries; by, for example, developing strategies that guide behavior in tax matters and that are aligned with the corporate principles of an entity.
- Make cities and human settlements safe, resilient and sustainable; by promoting the construction of buildings that comply with strict sustainability standards or developing campaigns that promote recycling.
- Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns; which BBVA promotes by fostering a better management of environmental resources, energy savings and collaboration with entities that contribute to reducing poverty levels.
- Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts; something that BBVA has specifically committed to by means of its Pledge 2025, which aims to achieve a balance between sustainable energy and fossil fuel investments, following a three-pronged approach: finance, manage and involve.
- Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources to achieve sustainable development; this includes, among other measures, gradually reducing the use of plastic and promoting academic research into its impacts on the ecosystem.
- Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss. BBVA Forests is an initiative that BBVA has launched to recover and improve especially unprotected areas by sponsoring and promoting volunteering activities.
- Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, facilitate access to justice for all and create effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. BBVA has been working on developing a sustainable banking and sustainable financing model for quite some time now.
- Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development; through, for example, strategic alliances with multilateral financial entities or launching initiatives related to the Principles of Responsible Banking.