What is the private sector’s role in achieving SDG 13?

SDG 13

Agenda 2030, the SDGs, COP21, UNFCC, Kyoto…

…are just a few of the many key words named in relation to the Sustainable Development Goal #13: Climate Action, and might be confusing rather than providing clear guidance for businesses and the private sector to play their part in combatting climate change. The truth is, there is no easy step-by-step path when it comes to tackling climate change and its impacts, but let us provide you with a brief overview to help you grasp the interlinkages of recent climate-related agreements.

In January 2016, the United Nations resolution “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”- adopted by all 193 Member States of the UN – came into effect. It lays out a path over the next 15 years to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and protect our planet.

At the heart of “Agenda 2030” are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that address the most important economic, social, environmental and governance challenges of our time. The SDGs have been negotiated at the United Nations with widespread public input, including significant involvement by companies participating in the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative.

SDG 13 urges us to “take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”. Its targets include resilience building against natural disasters, awareness-raising, support of capacity for effective mechanisms and planning tools in developing countries.

These are by far not all the issues that play a role in the equation. SDG 13 interlinks with many other goals such as clean and affordable energy, life below water and life on land with its biodiversity at great risk.

So what is your role in this journey to reach SDG 13? Below, we have listed a few things that you, your company and Canadian companies can do collectively to contribute to this global movement.

What’s Canada’s role?

While in the past, Canada has been among the leading countries in regards to its total greenhouse gas emissions and a lack of a strategy to tackle climate change, a change in Canada’s leadership has put an ambitious emphasis back on tackling climate change and advancing green energy and clean technologies. Further, Canada has not only committed to the goal of limiting the increase of global warming to 2°C, but has endorsed an even more ambitious goal of 1.5°C.  While at first sight this might seem only like a slight change in numbers, it would have immense impacts: According to scientists, a limit to 1.5°C could increase the chance of survival for coral reefs, slow the rise in the number of ever-increasing severe weather disasters, and help keep the planet from hitting the dreaded but so far unseen tipping points of irreversible environmental damage. To achieve this goal, business needs to be involved as a key player alongside a strong and ambitious government. Putting in place predictable, long-term regulatory policies including putting a price on carbon and incentives for decarbonisation will encourage and facilitate the transition of the private sector to fulfilling its role in combatting climate change.

What’s your company’s role?

The SDGs cannot be achieved by governments and world leaders alone, and require business to be a key part of the solution in paving the path to a sustainable future. The adoption of the SDGs means that businesses now have a globally accepted and practical definition of sustainable development, including climate action. The international business community has already set strong examples by launching various initiatives in Paris, including during the Care for Climate Business Forum organized by UN Global Compact. There are a large number of reasons why it makes “business sense”- besides reduced costs and reputational opportunities – to advance the sustainable development agenda and to tackle climate change in particular. Reducing the carbon footprint, putting a focus on renewable energy and engaging in sustainable resource management creates long-term positive financial impacts for the whole business. Further, the SDGs provide the private sector with new opportunities for investments and partnerships. With the 500 world’s largest businesses being responsible for more than 10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, the huge impact of the private sector taking on climate action cannot be denied and the crucial role of business has been acknowledged as key success factor for the SDGs and for tackling climate change.

What’s your role?

Stay informed about climate-related issues! This does not mean knowing the numbers of emissions or having all the statistics, but learning about the different perspectives and impacts of climate related policies. Get involved with the Global Compact Network Canada and subscribe to its news. Action and awareness building is not only needed during the momentum of global events like the COPs, but it is to be maintained at all times. By staying engaged, mobilising those around you, telling your government and business what you want and by supporting environmentally conscious businesses, we can create a powerful, collective voice of action that must be heard sooner rather than later.

SDG Awards 2017 

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