People and prosperity

Global Goals: the real work starts here

The time is now for business to help end poverty and hunger

Today is a landmark day for international development, the starting point for Project Everyone, which aims to share the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with 7 billion people in seven days.

As a founding partner, we are enthusiastic supporters of the campaign. We believe that raising awareness across the world will have a kick-starting effect, spurring governments, businesses and NGOs into action.

Worldwide effort

As part of the worldwide publicity effort, at Anfield tomorrow for Liverpool FC’s home game against Aston Villa, something a little different will be happening besides the likely rendition of the club anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’: Liverpool FC will be wearing the Global Goals logo on their shirts.

Legendary Liverpool FC manager Bill Shankly once famously said: “Football is not a matter of life and death; it’s more important than that.” On this occasion, football will be the vehicle for raising awareness about something that could mean life or death for millions – action to end all hunger and poverty, for good.

Awareness is important: the more people that know about the Global Goals, the more likely it is the international community will come together to act on them.

The ambitious aim

The aim to mobilise the world’s population is hugely ambitious. There have been previous efforts to do the same, notably Live Aid in 1985 and Make Poverty History in 2005, led with inspirational leadership by the likes of Bob Geldof and Bono.

The rapid proliferation of social media in the last few years means that the potential to communicate on a mass scale has grown. Project Everyone aims to use all channels of communication, including web, mobile phones and television, to reach as many people in the world as possible.

Big companies, including banks, can play a massive role in providing the fuel for progress on many of the Global Goals

After the huge awareness campaign, however, comes the hard graft of implementation. Realising and implementing the Goals will be even more difficult than agreeing them, and we all need to play our part. The governments of developed countries can help through capacity-building and aid. But aid is not just about handouts, and this is where the private sector comes in.

Big companies, including banks, can play a massive role in providing the fuel for progress on many of the Global Goals by creating jobs, harnessing trade, paying taxes and contributing to economic growth.

Do not waste the opportunity

The goals run from this year to 2030. Over this period, our economists predict that global GDP will almost double to USD129 trillion. If this growth is not accompanied by real progress on the 17 Global Goals, it would be a wasted opportunity.

The private sector supported progress on the Millennium Development Goals – the predecessors to the Global Goals. The growth of capital and trade, motored by business, has been responsible for lifting one billion people out of extreme poverty in the last twenty years.

Agreement of the Goals at the UN a positive step, but it is just the start. The hard work on implementation remains to be done

And now, businesses have the opportunity to help reach a number of the 17 Goals, such as ending poverty and hunger, and building resilient infrastructure. More investment in infrastructure will fuel economic growth; according to some estimates, a 10 per cent increase in the former leads to a 1 per cent boost to the latter.

Goal number eight refers to good jobs and economic growth explicitly. These do not happen in a vacuum, but flourish in conditions where people can create successful businesses, small, medium or large.

Agreement of the Goals at the UN a positive step, but it is just the start. The hard work on implementation remains to be done. It is incumbent on governments, businesses, NGOs and all of us to do what we can, so that the most in need ‘never walk alone’.

This article first appeared in Huffington Post on 25 September 2015