United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

December 1, 2022

What are each of the goals and what companies can do to achieve them?

By Catherine Haub

The United Nations defines sustainable development as “the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” [1]. Back in 2015, the United Nations came out with its Sustainable Development Agenda, which included 17 goals to protect the planet, end poverty, and reduce inequality to make the world better [2]. The Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by each member state in 2015 as a part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that set out a plan to achieve these goals [2]. As we get closer to 2030, many are concerned about the slow progress that has been made to achieve the goals, and many world leaders are calling this decade the “Decade for Action” calling the action at global, local, and people levels [1]. The goals are easy to understand, and many companies have been using them to create their own sustainability goals [3]. To be able to do this, people need to know what each of the goals is. It is important to note that these goals talk about issues covering the three aspects of sustainability which are environmental, social, and economic:

  1. No poverty [4]
  2. Zero Hunger [4
  3. Good Health and Well-Being [4
  4. Quality Education [4
  5. Gender Equality [4]
  6. Clean Water and Sanitation [4]
  7. Affordable and Clean Energy [4
  8. Decent Work and Economic Growth [4]
  9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure [4]
  10. Reduced Inequalities [4]
  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities [4]
  12. Responsible Consumption and Production [4
  13. Climate Action [4
  14. Life Below Water [4]
  15. Life On Land [4]
  16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions [4]
  17. Partnerships for the Goals [4]

As stated previously, many companies are shaping goals in their sustainability reports that achieve these.  In fact, according to GRI, 4 out of 5 companies have included in their sustainability report their commitment to these goals [3]. There are many different ways companies can look to achieve these goals, and many have indicated their willingness [3]. For example, if a company wants to achieve goal 7, it can switch its operations to utilizing renewable energy such as solar or wind power. At Placon’s headquarters in Madison Wisconsin, we have a solar panel field down the road that helps power our plant. The beauty of these goals is that they are achievable at both a global and local level. Goal 1 is social, and companies can work towards ending poverty in their communities, like donating to homeless shelters or hosting a food drive. Each year Placon hosts a fundraiser for United Way Dane County, which puts the money back into the community, benefitting those who live there. They help people in the community find jobs and work to decrease homelessness, reducing poverty in the area [5].
With how many companies are looking towards being more sustainable, the UN Sustainable Development Goals are a great way to create a company’s individual sustainability goals and practices.

[1] Sustainability | United Nations

[2] Take Action for the Sustainable Development Goals – United Nations Sustainable Development

[3] GRI – Most companies align with SDGs – but more to do on assessing progress (globalreporting.org)

[4] THE 17 GOALS | Sustainable Development (un.org)

[5] About Us – United Way of Dane County (unitedwaydanecounty.org)

For 55 years, Placon has been a leading designer and manufacturer of custom and stock plastic packaging for the food, medical, and retail markets. Placon has manufacturing operations in Madison, WI; Elkhart, IN; Plymouth, MN; and West Springfield, MA, and currently ranked in Plastics News 2020 Thermoformers Ranking Top 20. Placon delivers packaging breakthroughs that inspire better engagement between people and products with industry leading innovation and award-winning packaging designs. For more information, visit www.placon.com.