Businesses of all levels are making a choice to be sustainable. They are following along with collective agreements that move the world of profits closer to sustainability. Larger campaigns on the national level and international level influence the timelines of sustainable policies, changes, and plans the most. Collective agreements push sustainable commitments to be more widely recognized; not to mention, that the commitments have more defined standards and more transparent accountability.
The years 2030, 2040, and 2050 became a sort of mutual symbol for sustainable development across industries. Many timelines are being mentioned in the conversations of business being handled with a more eco-conscious mindset. How can you know which timelines are for which goals?
What’s happening by 2030?
One of the most recognized years is 2030. Everything starts with the United Nations (UN) describing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the 2030 Agenda. Member countries of the UN commit to making significant progress for the interlinked SDGs in the agenda. In an ideal world, all 17 categories are achieved so that not one human faces unnecessary suffering in their daily life. Every goal is directly or indirectly linked to building a world where all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Businesses within these countries work to align to the 17 SDGs.
From a perspective of sustainable business, many of the goals can be attached to environmentally friendly business operations and infrastructure. Businesses are considering plans to reach net-zero in areas such as carbon and waste. Not to forget, improving practices of employment and manufacturing to ensure people and the planet are not neglected in the pursuit of profit.
Almost everyone is familiar with the sustainable goals predicted for 2030 as the 17 SDGs are given on such an international platform. Gathering the attention of the world seemed to boost the sense of morale around sustainable development. Established companies, and new companies, became more proactive in their quest to discover sustainable solutions for the future of business.
What’s happening by 2040?
It’s not unlikely that some companies came to a conclusion that certain sustainable goals need more time than 2030. The 17 SDGs came to the public in 2015, giving the business world 15 years to find solutions for environmental issues that almost have a life of their own. Companies can contribute to sustainable goals that focus on the year 2040 instead, which gives more time and creates another level of accountability outside of largely known sustainable campaigns like the 2030 Agenda.
One example of a company building an internal campaign is Target with its Target Forward strategy. The large chain is committed to being a “net-zero enterprise” by 2040 to reduce climate impacts across its operations and supply chain. Target is in progress to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emission through energy efficiency, and they are working on plans for reducing the waste in their private label products. On top of this, Target is part of the collective campaigns Business Ambition for 1.5 and Race to Zero.
Of course, collective campaigns keep businesses accountable together. One popular collective campaign is The Climate Pledge. Amazon co-founded The Climate Pledge in 2019 as a commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across their business by 2040. Since then, the open pledge gathered over 300 signatories of other businesses committed to sustainable development, such as Microsoft, Best Buy, and Unilever.
What’s happening by 2050?
Further down the path, companies set goals tied to the year 2050. Race to Zero, previously mentioned in this post, is a sustainable campaign for net-zero carbon by 2050. The UN supports this campaign that engages smaller entities by working directly with companies and cities rather than the countries (national governments) of their affiliation. For this particular campaign, the specific aim is to halve carbon emissions in 2030 as a checkpoint, and the full net-zero goal is meant to be 2050.
Businesses following the Vision 2050: Time to Transform campaign are on a similar timeline as Race to Zero. Participants at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) developed this agenda for “a world in which more than 9 billion people are able to live well, within planetary boundaries, by 2050.” The WBCSD is taking a more personalized approach as a CEO-led organization, and using what they call the “nine transformation pathways” to make improvements that align with the SDGs.
Another global initiative inspired by the SDGs is The World In 2050 (TWI2050). Technically, this campaign is a research initiative that supports the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda. This collective campaign is more focused on identifying challenges to achieving the 17 SDGs and predicting the transformations that will be seen by 2050. Participants of the TWI2050 want to provide “fact-based knowledge to support the policy process and implementation of the SDGs”. In this case, “participants” include voluntary work from authors of institutions, independent experts from academia, business, government, intergovernmental organizations, and non-governmental organizations from around the world.
What’s happening with your sustainable commitments?
All of these campaigns are meant to be data-based, meaning that companies and institutions are predicting timelines of what they believe to be possible in sustainable development. Collective campaigns are not only based on the timeline, but they take into account which stakeholder they are engaging. In this post, campaigns were directed at national governments, companies, CEOs, individual experts, and more. What does that mean for your actions toward sustainable development?
What it can mean is that you have the power to contribute to sustainable development in a way specific to your skills and standpoint. If you are founding a business in the midst of this sustainable renaissance, you have a head start to build your business with sustainable development from the beginning stages. Many resources for sustainable development, sustainable policies, and collective campaigns are available through online research or communities. Reading this post even gets you a step closer to understanding sustainable business practices currently happening at this time.
Research deeper into the sources and campaigns mentioned in this post to learn more about checkpoints expected in the journey toward sustainable development in business.