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Social Innovation

Many hands make lighter work of global goals

Achieving the most ambitious agenda in the history of humankind cannot be done alone.

The United Nations (UN) has 17 global goals to achieve shared prosperity of people and the planet.

How can they be achieved?

In 2015, the UN announced 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030, including goals for ending poverty, fighting inequality and injustice, and tackling climate change and environmental degradation. The signing of the agreement was momentous. At the time, 800 million people lived in extreme poverty, water scarcity affected 40 percent of world’s population and gender inequality was pervasive. If successful, the SDG’s will solve many of these pressing challenges.

But an agenda as ambitious as this is hugely complex. Businesses, governments, and communities in every country across the globe have a role to play translating this shared vision into national development plans and strategies aligned around a total of 169 targets.  

So, how do you take on the challenge of a generation? The answer is to work together and work smarter.

Working together

Speaking at a Sustainable Development forum in New York, Under‑Secretary‑General Wu Hongbo  – the leader of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs – said “We can only get there by working together.” Multi-stakeholder partnerships (as per goal 17) are important vehicles to mobilise and share knowledge, expertise, technologies, and financial resources to support the implementation of the SDGs.

After reviewing the 17 goals, Hitachi identified 5 goals where it can make a significant impact through its business strategy, and 6 goals which are relevant to its corporate commitment to society. But Hitachi does not expect to succeed working alone. In March 2018 a European Stakeholder Dialogue on the subject of “Hitachi's Sustainability Strategy” was held in Brussels, Belgium, with 18 participants from international organisations, NGOs, companies advanced in sustainability, and other representative groups. Feedback from that session has further influenced Hitachi’s on-going initiatives and demonstrates Hitachi’s commitment to working in cooperation with other stakeholders.

Working smarter

Science, Technology and Innovation were identified by the UN as one of the “means of implementation” to achieve the SDGs. Digital solutions can help improve many of the areas covered by the SDGs – healthcare, water, agriculture and livelihoods, natural resource management, energy and infrastructure.

For example, Gamaya is a Swiss agricultural company which provides tech for precision agriculture, a farming management technique based on observing, measuring and responding to data on crops. Data gathered by sensors is fed back to the farmer, allowing them to make accurate decisions about where to fertilize, how much water to use and the best time to harvest. The company claims that the results of these combined measures are a 30% reduction in fertilizer use, a 7–25% increase in crop yield and a 50% decrease in crop losses.

The SDGs are not just a blueprint but a comprehensive action plan for businesses, governments, and communities to support the shared prosperity of people and the planet. Everyone must be prepared to work together, and work smarter, to realise the SDGs and create a better world.