Global goals week in New York brought together speakers and contributors from around the world to discuss how to achieve the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. The week-long series of events in September, held to coincide with the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, included the World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Impact and the UN Global Compact Leaders’ summits and the Goalkeepers event organised by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
More than 1,000 people from 60 countries attended Columbia University’s fifth annual International Conference on Sustainable Development. I gave a 10-minute, TED-style overview on how Mott MacDonald is using integrated thinking to focus on the 17 goals. I gave real examples of how our projects are already helping to achieve the SDGs. By reinstating the beach with 1Mt of dredged sand and reimaging the seafront our work is helping to transform the fortunes of Colwyn Bay in north Wales, helping to meet six goals, including those focused on tackling poverty (goal 1) and delivering sustainable cities and communities (goal 11). Meanwhile, our teacher development programme in Nigeria, which aims to improve standards of literacy and numeracy, is helping to reduce inequality (goal 10) and support economic growth (goal 8).
All our project outcomes address directly or indirectly the SDGs. For example, a renewable energy plant in South Africa does not only deliver goal 7 on affordable and clean energy. It also contributes to achieving good health and wellbeing (goal 3) by reducing air pollution from traditional fossil fuels energy plants; provides energy for growth (goal 8); builds infrastructure to support industry and innovation (goal 9) as well as sustainable cities (goal 11); and supports climate action (goal 13).
Nonetheless, the real power of the SDGs and opening opportunities with connected thinking comes when we move the goals from being a framework to describe impacts of projects to project initiation, so they are considered from the beginning.
As a company, we are at the start of our journey, and the goals will increasingly inform how we operate as a business and serve our clients. They are material to us as a company, as well as our clients and the end users of our projects. That means more than delivering great outcomes we must also ensure that everything we do advances economic, social and environmental wellbeing.
You can read more about how our projects are making a real difference to the people and communities affected. Our new sustainability report, In their own words, can be found here.