This paper written by a group of students from Canada, Indonesia, and Spain has grouped up various critical reflections based on the various AIM2Flourish stories we received at the start of this five-week project. These stories all focus heavily on sustainability and have specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) affiliated with them. Most of our stories had a few intersecting goals but all of them had one consistently recurring goal, goal number sixteen: Peace and Justice. The reflections and conclusions we were able to make are based on these goals and the organization in the story’s ability to meet and achieve these goals. The growing population and new societal challenges brought by the rapid development of technology and the consequent change in consumption habits have promoted the replacement of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) by the SDGs (Pederson, 2018). As a group of students from three different countries, we were able to critically reflect on the stories and view them from cross-cultural perspectives. Equality, diversity, and inclusion helped make this paper a possibility. Our three professors worked extremely hard to make this possible and we are extremely excited to share the conclusions we were able to draw. By the end of this paper, readers should be able to have a good understanding of what each AIM2Flourish story is about and the Sustainable Development Goals aligning with each story, critical reflections on each story, and lastly, the lessons we learned as a team, how we worked together and our overall experience being on a team made up of students from three different countries.
Description of key Sustainable Development Goals
The Sustainable Development Goals (adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015) cover the years 2016 to 2030 and are formally the goals of the United Nations”Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,’an agenda that lays out the vision, principles, and commitments for a more equitable and sustainable world for all. The SDGs’ practical and political importance, as well as the challenges they provide, can only be fully grasped by first knowing what came before them. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were a set of eight international development goals in force from 2000 to 2015. The UN, worldwide nonprofit organizations, and many other concerned and devoted organizations and individuals more locally have all published literature on sustainable development in general and the SDGs in particular. Because it is easy to become lost in all of the information, we have chosen our sources carefully. Most crucially, there is a widespread belief that much more inventive approaches to collecting and using data, ranging from crowdsourcing to big data, are required if the processes for implementing and delivering the SDGs are to fully benefit from the data revolution.
Sustainable Development Goal 16: Peace and Justice
As mentioned above, the Sustainable Development Goal that is recurring in each and every one of our AIM2Flourish stories is goal number sixteen: Peace and Justice. The Goal of Peace and Justice has twelve different targets that it is made up of. The first is to reduce violence everywhere in the world. The second is to reduce and protect children from abuse, negative exploitation, sex trafficking and violence. The third is to help promote the fundamentals of law to help ensure equal access to justice. The fourth is to fight against organized crime and prevent illegal firearms flows. The fifth is to find ways to reduce corruption and bribery. The sixth is to make sure institutions are accountable and transparent about what they do. The seventh is to make sure responsive, inclusive and representative decision-making is present. The eighth is to encourage and build up participation in global governance. The ninth is to provide some sort of universal legal identity for all. The tenth is to protect fundamental freedoms. The eleventh is to strengthen the national institutions to prevent violence throughout the world to help combat terrorism and crime. The last target is to implement the promotion and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies (Sustainable Development Goals, 2022).
Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities
The Sustainable Development Goal that pops up in a large chunk of our AIM2Flourish stories but isn’t in every single story is goal number ten: Reduced Inequalities. Reduced Inequalities has ten key targets ironically that make up the goal. The first goal is to progressively make and sustain income growth of the lower forty percent of the global population at a rate higher than a nation’s average by the year 2030. The second target is to empower and promote social, economic and political inclusion for all by the year 2030. The third is to help make sure that equal opportunity is provided to reduce the inequalities of outcome, this will be done by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices. The fourth is to adopt certain policies that help progressively achieve greater equality. The fifth is to focus more on the monitoring of global financial markets and institutions. The sixth is to enhance the representation and voice of developing countries in decision-making. The seventh is to facilitate orderly, safe and regular migration and mobility of people. The eighth is to implement the principle of special and differential treatment for developing countries. The final target is to reduce to less than three percent the transaction costs of migrant remittance and to eliminate remittance corridors with costs higher than five percent all by the year 2030 (Sustainable Development Goals, 2022).
Linkage of organizational actions and our main Sustainable Development Goals
The second section of the report will give more of an in-depth analysis of each story, the goals relating to the stories and how the organization affiliates with the goal. In addition, the alignment of the SDGs with the 5P, namely, planet, people, prosperity, partnership and peace also will be reflected.
For addressing SDG4 (quality education), companies like Coffee for Peace, Textbooks for Change, BOP, Milestones in Home Care, and Tony’s Chocolonely contributed a lot. For example, Coffee for Peace trains locals to supply coffees with good agricultural standards and farm in an environmentally friendly way. Besides, Textbooks for Change helps to solve the unequal distribution of educational sources by providing affordable and accessible learning material. Similarly, BOP, a technological platform that helps to connect non-governmental organizations, citizens, companies, and government agencies, requests experts in science or math to teach children from low-income families and disabled people, expanding quality education and at the same time reducing inequalities (SDG10). While the primary SDG Milestones in Home Care intends to fulfill is to ensure good health (SDG3), this company also devotes itself to providing children with 24/7 care in their own home instead of being chained in hospitals, helping children live a more engaged life. This allows their patients to attend school classes and advance to higher education institutions, conducive to the fulfillment of quality education. With regard to Tony’s Chocolonely, its innovation lies in training indigenous people of the Philippines on supplying coffee with good agricultural standards. These companies aligned with the People aspect of the 5P, advancing the dignity and equality of individuals by expanding quality education.
Concerning SDG 5 (Gender Equality) and SDG10 ( Reduced Inequalities), Tony’s Chocolonely, Textbooks for Change, and PeriFerry has driven social changes about eliminating inequality in various aspects. We described these two goals together because of the similarities among them. SDG10 can be explained as reducing inequality in age, disability, race, sex, ethnicity, wealth, policies, and laws (The Global Goals). Besides, reducing the disparity between developing and developed countries is another aspect that we could work on to fulfill SDG10. With regard to gender equality, female workers of Tony’s Chocolonely account for 80% of their employees, contributing to the empowerment of women and the attainment of economic resources by women. Concerning Textbooks for Change, in the process of sending books to universities in East Africa, they committed to making education affordable and contributing to eliminating privileged education, intending to achieve the equal distribution of educational resources. Unlike Textbook’s efforts on eliminating education inequality, PeriFerry noticed how members of the transgender community were excluded from high-income occupations and were remained discriminated against in the human market. Consequently, it innovated how to train employees to increase their awareness and acceptance of transgender individuals.
After advancing quality education and reducing inequalities, companies tend to work on SDG1 (No poverty) and SDG8 ( Decent work and economic growth). As proposed by Lakner, Mahler, Negre, and Prydz (2019), the reduction of inequalities makes the eradication of poverty possible. In the case of Humblebee, it helps to develop a positive and authentic relationship, forming a sense of trust, and transparent communication within a business, fulfilling SDG8. Besides, one of the most significant innovations of Periferry is the REVIVE program designed for transgender individuals, which has helped over 300 transgender individuals find well-paid jobs, such as tech support, bank workers, and designers. The implementation of Tony Chocolonely’s five rules of slave-free cocoa makes beans traceable. And it requires farmers to be strong, ensuring improved productivity and long-term stability, and increasing more than 2.5 million farmers’ consuming power and their work conditions.
SDG 12 is responsible for consumption and production, including the efficient use of natural resources, reduced waste generation by recycling and reusing items, and improved public awareness of sustainable lifestyle consumption. One instance that caught our attention is Textbooks for Change. It extended the life cycle of textbooks and sent them to students in East Africa. Another successful example is Genesee, which helps solve the problem of single-use plastic waste by developing a circular eyewear supply chain in which they collect discarded water bottles and convert them into glasses firstly, after the use of products by consumers, the company will collect previous products back, and consumers could gain new glasses by using their credits gained by buying previous products. According to the statistics, 16,000 single-use plastic bottles have been upcycled by Genesee. In addition, Futerra also performed well in this aspect, he complements logical strategies with creative and compelling stories, making sustainability commonplace in consumers’ worldview. These companies contributed to the appeal of our society to protect the planet by consuming sustainably, aligning with the planet of 5P.
SDG16 ( Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies) is the crux of our stories. It refers to developing accountable and transparent organizations, forming participatory and inclusive decision-making, and enforcing non-discriminatory laws(The Global Goals). In the story of Tony’s Chocolonely, its innovation helps to create a peaceful community with unity, no matter whether you are the Christians or Muslims, in the context of the long-standing divide and violence due to religious differences. With the help of Futerra, many Fortune 500 companies have become more inclusive and cooperative on different aspects, such as literacy for every woman, and advancing initiatives to solve climate change. Therefore, Futerra also contributes to the fulfillment of SDG16. Umana made it possible that professionals and patients can better connect without intermediaries, encouraging fair deals and transparent information. Through organizing sensitization workshops concerning members of the transgender community, PeriFerry guides employers to increase the acceptance and awareness of the workforce, creating a more inclusive work environment for LGBTQ groups. To advance SDG16, Global Prairie upholds an anti-corruption policy to ensure employees’ rights and benefits.
After categorizing companies according to their primary SDG, we also noted that most of their inspirations are accidental. The founder of Milestones in Home Care got her inspiration of providing services different from traditional health care services from her experience in caring for a young girl who was chronically ill and confined to the hospital. The manager of Textbooks for Change witnessed the hardships that African students face that there are no available and sufficient learning resources. Then his vision became a flourishing business that not only brought economic profits but also provided students with qualified textbooks. PeriFerry was founded because Neelam Jain identified the lack of policies and practices of corporate organizations toward members of the transgender community. While their inspirations are accidental, they intended to change those dilemmas, such as unequal treatment of different groups and the waste of resources. In other words, they try to change the world consciously.
These companies not only bring social and environmental benefits but also form strong forces in advancing the economy. For instance, Milestones in Home Care benefits the business in matching the needs of chronically ill patients who want to be ‘normal’ in daily life. Besides, it respects cultural differences and sensitivities. For instance, they provide female nurses to care for a Pakistani family, abiding by Pakistani cultural customs and making society more inclusive. Textbooks for Change shows that the book industry has become a profitable industry, and it has donated over 260,000 textbooks. Over 50,000 African students are using their books, and 530.000 books were recycled in the last few years. By sharing ownership with employees, Global Prairie presented a prospering trend of development even in the 2009-2009 economic recession.
Throughout the different sessions that took place weekly working and commenting on these AIM 2 Flourish business projects, we were able to notice a change in our perspectives as we began to read and inform ourselves more in-depth about the issues regarding all the Sustainable Development Goals that sooner or later came to play, but with a more specialized focus on our assigned goal, which was number sixteen, peace and justice. The SDGs are a natural evolution of business ethics and corporate social responsibility principles. They speak to achieve shared value where businesses provide private goods, government public goods and both goods which benefit both private persons and the commons of the world. Though firstly we did not know too much about the relevance of the SDGs for businesses, we came to understand that it provides a moral template for capitalism, no longer leaving it to the will of markets to extract all value for owners nor to the overbearing, intrusive regulation of markets by government, but to the self-regulation of individuals and firms in collaboration with governments and civil society.
We agreed that world leaders must initiate significant reform of the policies and institutions that are behind the steady depletion of our basic ecological capital, the accelerating degradation of the environment, and the growing threat to essential life-support systems. They must commence a process of basic change in the way we conduct domestic and international economic relations and in the way we make decisions in government, industry, and the home. They must begin to reshape our international institutions for an age of total interdependence.
Also, in our view, there is no doubt that changes are taking place in our soils, water, and atmosphere more quickly than ever because of the impact of human activity. Consistent increases over the past one hundred years in the level of carbon dioxide, methane, and other “greenhouse gasses” have been well documented. Deforestation and desertification reduce the Earth’s natural capacity to absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen into the atmosphere. The impact of synthetic chemicals in depleting the protective ozone layer is no longer questioned. Population growth rates, while declining in percentage terms globally, are creating population densities that exceed the carrying capacities of many parts of the world. Approximately one-fifth of the world’s population that lives in the developed world is responsible for four-fifths of annual global resource use.
Most of us had a very vague and unclear idea of what the Sustainable Development Goals were if any at all. We commented how before this activity, sustainability sounded to us like this ideal project that needs to be taken into account and that needs to be implemented in public and private agendas, but that it might not have as much relevance on the micro-level or in our everyday lives as other issues could. We saw the sustainability world as something that needs to be developed and that it has certainly grown in the last decades and even more in the last few years, but that there was not so much action that we could take to have an impact. We saw global warming, poverty, world hunger or these as very complex problems that need to be tackled by groups of experts in different disciplines that can work together on bringing in a solution equally complex and complete. Even if we were conscious, by reading the news, that we are coming closer and closer every year to reaching a point of no return, we understood this topic as so much above our heads that it would be a waste of time because we could not be of any use. While there is increasing consensus on the need for sustainable development, there is not yet a sufficient understanding of the elements that contribute to it or their interrelationships.
One of the conclusions that we made while having our discussions, is that environmental, or in general, any issue that is in direct contact with the Sustainable Development Goals, that threaten peace and security will most likely be recognized and responded to more rapidly than those that do not appear to have a strategic impact. Examples might include control over energy and scarce resources, the different crises that might affect the stability of a country, ozone depletion as health care costs mount, or migration if loss of livelihood due to deforestation or desertification results in mass movements of people, which would be in direct conflict with the long term goal of Peace and Justice, given its consequences.
If we look at the meshing of the world’s economy with the Earth’s ecology only in terms of our relationships with developing countries, we are missing some fundamental points: The actions we take in any part of the world affect all parts; we cannot segregate human activities from the activities of other species, nor within the artificial boundaries of nation-states; global interaction quickly and inevitably transforms local actions into global results. This understanding should serve both to caution us about activities that are detrimental and encourage us to act in ways that are increasingly beneficial to global ecology. How do we take on the responsibility of planetary management? If we accept that we are approaching, and indeed may have passed, a number of critical thresholds, we can set out some assumptions for responsible management of planetary resources.
So, we asked ourselves a question. Where do we start? The most critical need will be to activate and accelerate the entire presently available machinery for international action at all levels. This could involve making existing machinery more efficient and effective. It will be equally important that the World Bank, regional development banks, and other multilateral, as well as bilateral, development institutions, strengthen their environmental capacity and conduct environmental impact assessments as a standard part of program and project planning. This approach reflects the need for broad, internationally recognized standards, but acknowledges that the implementation of international agreements is only as good as the actions that take place nationally, regionally and locally.
Bridges will need to be built among government, business, developmental non-governmental organizations, and environmental groups to reduce antagonism and benefit from diverse points of view. In order to promote sustainable development, we need to ensure that mandates, philosophies, values, attitudes, behaviors, goals, objectives, strategies, programs, projects, and activities encourage the functioning of systems that support development with a long-term perspective.
To participate effectively and to have a sense of ownership, all of these stakeholders must have a voice in determining approaches and making decisions. Discussion of national and regional priorities, policy options, constraints, and the terms on which external assistance may be forthcoming helps to ensure that the importance of global concerns is recognized, while national actions are taken that are appropriate to local circumstances and capacity. Local knowledge, skills, and experience can be complemented by outside financing, technology, and organizational and managerial skills. Given global interdependence, we are all stakeholders in sustainable development. It is clear that economic growth does need to be accelerated in developing countries. It is undeniable, however, that the South, namely, Africa and South America, cannot attain the current consumption levels of industrialized countries without placing unsupportable demands on the recuperative powers of the land, air, and water. At the same time, industrialized countries need to develop more efficient and ecologically sound means of production, implement effective conservation measures, and accept lower levels of consumption as the norm in the future.
Takeaways from this report
By the end of this report, as mentioned briefly in the introductory paragraph. Readers will be able to gain a greater understanding of the key Sustainable Development Goals. The goals align specifically with the majority of our AIM2Flourish stories. An overview of the key stories and themes that we were given and how they are connected to the Sustainable Development Goals. Then a critical reflection based on our group meetings and the discussion we had. Lastly, the lessons learned, talking about how we worked as a team.
Our work as a distributed team: lessons learned
One of our biggest problems during this learning is about “time”. We have a big-time difference between us. From Indonesia to Spain the time difference is about 5 hours, Indonesia to Canada’s time difference is about 12 hours, and Spain to Canada’s time difference is about 5-6 hours. We managed this problem by doing our vote so that no one objected to the time issue in doing the international group tasks. We usually meet on Thursday at 8:30 am Canada time, 2:30 pm In Spain and 8:30 pm in Indonesia. Which is the best time for us to do the meeting and finish our group assignment. We usually do the meeting through Zoom Meeting. Sometimes some of us had bad internet connection issues, and maybe the application error. But we enjoyed all those things because maybe this is the only way we can do international group assignments. Sometimes some people can’t attend the meeting, but we have to respect people who don’t attend the meeting because not everyone has free time to join the meeting and maybe someone is sick and it is not possible to join the meeting but we are still a “team”. Because we have an obligation to complete the international group assignment.
Another problem is our language. We use English as our primary language. We have open communications via WhatsApp. But we all think that language is not a big deal, because everyone on this team at least has a basic English language, and it can help anyone to understand the conversation, the task, the small talk, etc.
To foster our cross-cultural working to be a team with many differences we are all together should know each team member. From the first Zoom meeting, we introduced ourselves to each other, starting with names, and nicknames until hobby and at the end of the first Zoom meeting we exchanged our WhatsApp numbers and created a WhatsApp group. We adopt flexibility in scheduling and decision-making to create values and we can go a long way to understand the priorities of our team members. We also encourage our team members to vote, give suggestions and opinions, and be free to ask some questions, because we don’t want our relationship to be just for this international group assignment. We all agree to stay connected with each other, for example, we follow each other’s social media to stay connected. One of our important things for this international group is listening to someone speaking. It is a simple thing to do, right? But it will have a big impact on our chemistry. These types of biases can prevent collaboration and eradicate the trust of each group member because it can lead to unnecessary friction. We build our environment for collaboration. Respect individual differences and try to understand each other to build unity in a culturally diverse team.
Our last word for this international group assignment
• Ty Haskan, University of Guelph, Canada.
”This has been an experience I will never forget, having the opportunity to connect with other students from around the globe has been nothing short of amazing. I’ve built new relationships that will hopefully last a lifetime. As the next generation of youth stepping into the workforce, I want to continue fourth with a sustainable mindset so that we can do our best to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”
• Alejandro Mata, University of Navarra, Spain.
-” I see this as a great opportunity to immerse oneself into the sustainability world that we are necessarily going to live in. As well, having the opportunity to share our views with people from all around the world can be very insightful as to hearing new ideas that might have not come across your mind otherwise.”
• Qianqian Li, University of Navarra, Spain.
-” In the process of reading and reflecting on the sustainable stories, I learned that every individual could consume in a sustainable way and drive social change. While companies tend to prioritize their economic benefits, there are companies that devote themselves to solving social problems and creating a more inclusive society”.
• Paula Navarro, University of Navarra, Spain.
-”Thanks to the university for giving us this enriching opportunity to work with people from other universities and above all from other countries and cultures. This type of activity not only boosts our academic learning but also our life learning. ”
• Raja Afani, IPMI International Business School, Indonesia.
-”I just want to say thank you to everyone, and I’m sorry if I am making mistakes”.
• Tristan Elfan Z.R, IPMI International Business School, Indonesia.
-” First of all, I want to thank all of you for everything, for your time, and effort, and I’m feeling very very grateful about this chance to do this international collaborative learning because not everyone has this chance. I’m really happy to see you guys, see you again, thank you and I hope we stay connected”.
We believe acceptance and understanding of our cultural differences are what it takes to successfully complete the international group assignment. We hope our team can create new innovative solutions and lead the world to become a better world!
Lakner, C., Mahler, D. G., Negre, M., & Prydz, E. B. (2019). How much does reducing inequality matter for global poverty?. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, (8869).
Pedersen, C. S. (2018). The UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) are a great gift to business!. Procedia Cirp, 69, 21-24.
The Global Goals(No date). The 17 goals. https://www.globalgoals.org/goals/
THE 17 GOALS | Sustainable Development. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://sdgs.un.org/goals