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OK for companies to profit from the UN’s Global Goals

It is up to top executives to help us fulfil the UN’s Global Goals, says Nordic Director for the UN’s development programme UNDP. In return, their efforts will open doors to new markets and greater profits. The UNLEASH project is an example of how. 
The 17 Global Goals include 169 specific sub-goals. One of them is that small and medium-sized companies in developing countries should have easy access to loans and markets. Image: UN

Publiceret: 17.08.2017
Af Sara Krog P. Knudsen mail

1,000 young talents from all over the world between the ages 20-35 - all of whom are brimming with new ideas - have come to Copenhagen to participate in the UNLEASH project.

In the course of a ten-day programme, they will develop business ideas to be implemented in the real world. Idea development will take place together with companies, and all must comply with the UN’s Global Goals.

The collaboration with the business community is crucial, because companies play a significant role if we are to be successful in realising the 17 global goals.

According to the UNDP, getting the world’s CEOs to join the fight against climate change and inequality is not unrealistic, because the demand for a better world is on the rise.

“Right now, countries and companies are at completely different stages, but I believe this will change sooner or later. Unless you adjust your business model in the coming decades, you will be disconnected globally, because there are others who will act faster. And they will be the ones to win consumer confidence,” says Camilla Brückner, Nordic Director for the UN’s development programme UNDP.

See also: 1.000 young talents will save the planet in Denmark

Sustainability as a competitive parameter

A study from the Confederation of Danish Industry shows that large parts of Danish exports to developing countries today are sustainable. In 2016 Danish companies exported renewable energy to developing countries worth DKK 4 billion, and projections show that by 2030 this figure will increase to DKK 10 billion annually.

At the UN, they know that a company must stand to make a profit if it is to invest in restructuring their production, but according to Camilla Brückner sustainability will become a competitive parameter in the long run.

“Companies can win new markets if they invest in sustainability. That is essential. We do not see any problem with people earning money off the global goals. The transition will only be possible if companies are able to survive,” she says.

UNLEASH is therefore a starting point for giving the market more opportunities to invest in advancing the global goals.

It is expected that the project will provide some concrete suggestions for how to secure safe drinking water, stimulate economic growth and fight climate change, famine and poverty.

See also: CSR also makes good business sense

Idea development at Danish folk high schools

The UNLEASH programme started last Sunday at the Train Workshop in Copenhagen. Here talents were introduced to some of the companies they will be working with.

One of these companies is Deloitte, who sees great potential in collaborating with the group of young talents. 

“The younger generation is the key to our future growth. They’re the ones with the global perspective, the innovative ideas and, last but not least, the will and the courage to make a difference. But they need the capacity that can power the good ideas. And that’s where businesses come in,” says Anders Dons, Nordic CEO at Deloitte.

At the Train Workshop, the young talents participated in workshops together with the companies, which is the first step in their collaboration to form ideas that will ideally be fully fledged after nine days in Denmark.

After the first few days in Copenhagen, the journey continues to ten Danish folk high schools, where the talents will be divided into smaller groups. Here they will spend four days developing ideas within topics such as education, food, energy, water and sustainable production. This will take place in collaboration with professionals from the participating companies.

Read more about UNLEASH

Fill containers up all the way

Some of the talents have brought along finished ideas, while others have visions that can be further developed. All of it will be condensed into a prototype that will eventually be presented to a jury in Aarhus.
Deloitte is sending multiple talents to UNLEASH. One of these is 35-year-old Simon Dalsgaard Kristensen, who works with logistics. He wants to create a platform that provides a comprehensive view of excess space in containers.

“My idea is based on the fact that we currently waste too many resources and harm the environment unnecessarily because of the way in which global transport of goods operates. The problem is that we have a lot of empty space we’re moving around in containers, aeroplanes and lorries instead cooperating to fill these resources up all the way,” says Simon Dalsgaard Kristensen. 

Among other things, the intention is for the idea to be used to transport emergency relief and thereby provide as much as possible to those in need.

 The 17 Global Goals:
- No poverty
- Zero hunger
- Good health and well-being
- Quality education
- Gender equality
- Clean water and sanitation 
- Affordable and clean energy
- Decent work and economic growth
- Industry, innovation and infrastructure
- Reduced inequalities
- Sustainable cities and communities
- Responsible consumption and production
- Climate action
- Life below water
- Life on land
- Peace, justice and strong institutions
- Partnerships for the goals

Unless you adjust your business model in the coming decades, you will be disconnected globally.
CAMILLA BRÜCKNER, NORDIC DIRECTOR FOR THE UN’S DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME UNDP
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PUBLISHED: 8/17/2017 LAST MODIFIED: 8/17/2017