First published on People Daily

By Judy Njino (Executive Director, Global Compact Kenya)

What do the Sustainable Development Goals aim to achieve?  


The world is ten years away from the deadline for achieving the 2030 Agenda — and yet we are not on the path to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are words on paper that need vitality, evidence, and political will to move toward becoming actions at the regional and national levels that will empower people and the planet to flourish.


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in September 2015 by the 193 Member States of the United Nations. These 17 goals set the ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ with 169 targets aimed at ending poverty, fighting inequality and tackling climate change over the next years.


The global community needs to think differently about plans to get back on track — and that means advancing the efficiency of development cooperation. Presently, the process of implementing SDGs has been more collaborative than any other UN process in history. And as an outcome, we both have an extensive and in some ways a balanced view of the future we want – representing various sectors and voices, including the private sector’s voice.


As part of the 2019 session of the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, countries, UN officials and stakeholders shared their outlook on the four years of Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), during which 142 countries released their reports. Voluntary Nation Reviews play a vital role as they help in identifying challenges, are important in distinguishing gaps and the way forward on the SDGs at the country level.


First published on People Daily

By Judy Njino (Executive Director, Global Compact Kenya)

Climate change is undoubtedly the defining issue of our time — and we are at a pivotal moment. The world today is facing unprecedented, interconnected environmental challenges. If we do not urgently change course, we risk missing our chance to avoid runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us.

Today, there is a consensus that the climate crisis is directly linked to human activity. The question, therefore, is no longer whether climate change is real but the extent to which human activity is causing it and what can be done to turn this tide around.

Latest research indicates that we will likely miss the Paris Agreement targets to limit global average temperatures to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels; and to limit the increase to 1.5 °C, going by the current global emissions trajectory. Reversing this trend will require effort from all sectors. Business leaders decisions have a direct impact on the lives of millions of people and the environment. It is, therefore, in their self-interest to work towards securing a sustainable future.

Today, sustainability is increasingly becoming a mainstream business agenda as executives recognise the growing relevance and urgency of global environmental, social, and economic challenges. Regardless of size, location, or sector, businesses are looking beyond the traditional drivers of financial performance, seeing how sustainability issues can affect their bottom line.

First published on People Daily

By Judy Njino (Executive Director, Global Compact Kenya)

Self-interest is, and has always been, the key driving force for economic activity.

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest,” wrote the Scottish economist Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations. In other words, out of individual actions borne of self-interest, we all benefit.

For businesses, the definition of self-interest has traditionally been very straightforward: keep production costs as low as possible and maximize profits. Defined in such narrow terms, corporate self-interest has often meant obtaining the cheapest labor and extracting the cheapest raw materials from anywhere and everywhere in the world, while minimizing associated expenditures.

The result of this model, globalization, has been prima facie positive: for the first time in 10,000 years, over 50 percent of the world’s population – 3.8 billion people – are now middle class or wealthier, according to the Brookings Institution.

But this zero sum business model – that emphasizes maximizing profits over all else – has also left in its wake not only a similar number of poor/vulnerable people, but also a rapidly warming planet on the brink of epochal catastrophe.