The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) define the world we want. They apply to all nations and mean, quite simply, to ensure that no one is left behind.
The Sustainable Development Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”.
- No Poverty
- Zero Hunger
- Good Health & Well Being
- Quality Education
- Gender Equality
- Clean Water and Sanitation
- Affordable and Clean Energy
- Decent Work and Economic Growth
- Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
- Reduced Inequality
- Sustainable Cities and Communities
- Responsible Consumption and Production
- Climate Action
- Life below Water
- Life on Land
- Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
- Partnership for the Goals
Sustainable development binds together concern for the carrying capacity of natural systems with the social, political and economic challenges faced by humanity. Sustainability science is the study of the concepts of sustainable development and environmental science.
The SDGs are changing how we think about money, growth and profit. They see economic well-being, social inclusion and environmental sustainability as closely interconnected. The SDGs are universal and were created to “leave no one behind”.
We discussed the SDG’s and what we can do as businessmen/women in the future. We read about several companies and share what they do. We learned from it, and we hope we can have a company that can help others by using SDG’s.
Business Ethics is the study of appropriate business policies and practices regarding potentially controversial subjects including corporate governance, insider trading, bribery, discrimination, corporate social responsibility, and fiduciary responsibilities. Ethics is important when we are doing business.
This is what we discussed, how to make business align with SDG’s, Understand the SDG’s and link relevant targets to your business activities. After this we need to define priorities and set our goals. After that we need to Integrate, Innovate and Collaborate with other companies. And don’t forget to always report and communicate.
Since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, causing shifts in the temperatures and weather patterns. The rising temperatures are making natural disasters much more frequent and severe, and this process is expected to have an irreversible impact on the availability of basic needs like freshwater, food or energy.
That is why the United Nations addresses this problem by taking urgent action to combat climate change and its effects. SDG 13, “Climate action”, focuses on the integration of measures into national policies, the improvement of education, awareness-raising and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warnings. The goal is to reduce temperature at or below 1.5 ºC above pre-industrial levels, as called for in the Paris Climate Agreement.
Climate change is mainly caused by the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas, which produce greenhouse emissions. The rising level of these emissions requires shifting economies towards carbon neutrality, that is why some businesses and governments are finding affordable and sustainable alternatives.
This explains why most of the innovations which try to fight climate change are related to the reduction of greenhouse emissions. CO2 is the main greenhouse gas, but there are others like nitrous oxide or methane which also contribute to global warming. The emission of methane, for example, can be due to the decay of food. That is why the company KinoSol found a solution to reduce the emission of this gas by discovering a process to dry food so it can be consumable later. Another of the innovations, Agro Recycling Ab, also found a way to reduce greenhouse emissions by using leftover food. They take leftover bread or dough, which contains starch, and process it into bioethanol, so it can be used as fuel to replace fossil fuels.
We realized that many of these businesses found a solution in recycling, not only food but also other materials like plastic. The company South Pole also reduces GHG by collecting landfill bound plastic waste and reusing it in manufacturing plastic film and bags. Or the innovation from the firm Mamut, which manufactures construction materials from recycled products, transforming rubber from old tires into cushion floors.
We also found that many other companies focus on renewable energy, like solar and wind. Energryn company, for instance, created a hybrid water heater with the lowest ecological footprint, replacing the gas boiler and using the sun as the main source of energy. The company BAUER Resources GmbH also addresses SDG 7 (Renewable energy) by using reed plants to purify water contaminated with oil, lowering energy consumption and therefore CO2 emissions.
The last type of firms we identified are the ones which try to solve the greenhouse effect by resorting to afforestation. The companies Proteak and Grosche manage this problem by developing forests where there is none in a profitable and sustainable way, especially in developing countries.
However, even if the innovations have different ways of addressing the problem of climate change, we noticed that most stories started in a similar way: the founders were trying to solve different problems by looking for a solution that was profitable but at the same time sustainable.
Another resemblance is that most of them also have a positive impact on society in other aspects, as they help to create jobs and promote economic growth, provide freshwater or food in developing countries, or protect and restore terrestrial ecosystems. They are not just about climate action, but also other SDGs like no poverty, good health, no hunger, clean water and sanitation, good jobs and economic growth, or life on land.
The discussion of these innovations during our meeting’s provoked many ideas, thoughts, and insights from different cultural perspectives.
During our analysis and reflection of the AIM2Flourish innovations, one of the most common elements was that every innovation and its functional framework was often quite sophisticated. By sophisticated we mean that the operation of the business and its service/product relied heavily on complex services that might be a very particular industry. During our discussion and reflection, we concluded that the main cause for this common element is likely that our assigned SDG is Climate Action. Climate change itself is a monumental conflict that in return will need to be met with revolutionary innovations. In order to meet those standards, people and companies are thinking outside the box and truly inventing new ways to save our planet. By doing this, the innovations that were created to combat climate change and ultimately fulfill the Climate Action SDG, are extremely complicated operations. An innovation that serves as a great example of this is the “Green Oasis in the desert”, Bauer Resources GMBH, (Refer to Appendix). Bauer resources’ innovation solved an issue of efficiency within the oil refinement industry that otherwise led to a by-product that is wasted. Already a complex business sector, their solution using green vegetation, filters the chemicals out of the water that’s used in the oil refinement process enough in order to be able to supply water for the growth of crops. Then, the contaminated water can be used as a source of green energy instead of being thrown away due to the level of chemicals. This is one example of many where the innovations involved a strong level of complex science to operate. As a group, we noticed this common theme right away when reflecting on our stories.
Another element of reflection for our group, was how climate change affects our personal lives given our geographical, cultural, and political differences, as well as how sternly our country might implement the Climate Action SDG. Starting with Indonesia, it was noted that the highest level of personal conflict due to climate change in Jakarta is the level of air pollution or “smog” as some would call it. In a population dense city with millions of people having to commute across limited infrastructure, that’s a problem for many cities around the world. In Spain it isn’t as big of a problem unless you’re in a big city such as Barcelona, and in Canada it’s never a problem unless the weather conditions are just right in the summer months in the busy metropolitan area of Toronto. The other direct conflict that was minorly noticed by our Indonesian group member in Jakarta was sea-level rise. Although it’s hard to notice right away in real time, constantly hearing the effects of sea-level rise for Jakarta and the long-term problems that it poses is an issue that isn’t nearly as problematic here in Canada or Spain on a personal level. Next in Spain and Canada, we discussed that the effects of climate change are hard to notice on a personal level. So instead, we reflected on how the European Union is so much farther ahead of North America and Canada in how seriously they might implement Climate Action policies…at least from the perspective of the Spanish and Indonesian students. In many parts it’s a point of reflection that is true, but in a complex way. Canada’s geographical expanse makes it one of the most cultural and politically diverse countries. With 10 different provinces and 3 territories, every province/territory is its own microeconomy and cultural habitat with different aspects that make them special. If you observe the lower section of British Columbia that encompasses Vancouver, their Climate Action prioritization might be higher than the rest of Canada and even many parts of the EU. Whereas if you go to Alberta in areas that surround Calgary and Edmonton, their perspective on Climate Action is likely the complete opposite and lower than almost anywhere in the EU and Canada. Both these locations are in Canada, but their people and policies are largely different. This moment of reflection for our group made us realize how consequential a person(s) might perceive climate change to be, depending on their upbringing and how geographical, cultural, and political variables might have influence their values. For our group, we all agreed that we already heavily prioritize Climate Action, almost more than many of the other SDG’s. So instead of our mindset changing due to this learning experience, it more so developed, and we learned how we collaboratively share values on the same issue despite how far away we are from each other, the fact we speak a different language, or that we’ve never even met each other before this project. According to Hofstede Insights, they are absolute differences between our countries (Canada, Spain, Indonesia) and our culture within six dimensions. Power distance, Individualism, Masculinity, Uncertainty Avoidance, Long-term orientation, and Indulgence (Hofstede-Insights.com). Canada, Spain, and Indonesia under these six dimensions created by Hofstede, differ on a vast scale. That’s what made this element of reflection so critical for us. It went beyond the innovations to make us appreciate the same level of care for issues that we hold onto despite our countries geographical, cultural, and political differences.
Another component of reflection for our group was the realization that these innovations might mark as an indicator for the start of an environmental revolution. The planet, its people, including us, are soon to be faced with growing problems due to the effects of climate change. Our assigned SDG, Climate Action aims to solve that issue. Every single one of our AIM2Flourish innovations all play a key role in combating the climate change cancer. A cancer where the more people who join the cause for climate action, the healthier it gets, and the healthier our earth gets. However, if not resolved, the cancer will grow exponentially. Our group reflected that in our lifetime, sustainable choices in our daily lives will be an existential question regarding climate action. In a study for the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Colin D. Butler says, “A well-functioning global society, motivated to do so, could easily eliminate hunger and poverty, not only today, but under all but worst-case climate change. Refugees from inundated islands, war-torn Syria or the drought-stricken Chad basin could easily be accommodated in more fertile and more elevated parts of the world. Unfortunately, humans currently do not co-operate on such a scale” (Butler, 2018).
This assignment has made us think that it is really not impossible to create a more sustainable and eco-friendly world, since even if there are not extreme changes, everything helps. Companies today have a great responsibility in what happens in the environment and in society. Much of the pollution and exploitation of people is due to mismanagement of resources by important companies.
We have learned that there are many companies, initially unknown to us, that really, thanks to their technological innovations, have managed to be different from many other companies in their way of producing and operating. They have decided to challenge themselves not to make the mistakes that many large companies make by opting for the easiest and, according to them, least expensive methods. They invested in something they believed was not only beneficial for their business, but also for the future of the society in general. We have learned that by really changing the way you manage and produce, you can help many people by giving them decent jobs, and therefore help the country’s economy.
Seeing in the reports the impact that many companies have created on so many people and the environment has made us feel hopeful. Sometimes we only hear the bad news and that everything we create we destroy, we only hear that all entrepreneurs are selfish and that leaders will never look for the common good and the future of the planet and the people that will live in it, so it makes us feel quite powerless and desperate. It is true that we have reached a point where it is increasingly difficult to repair what we have already damaged, but seeing that there are so many people with the ambition to make the world a better home encourages us not to give up, if there are people who can, why not the rest?
Our group, as we all know, come from different backgrounds and different lifestyles, as well as from different economic situations. We have managed to learn more about the mindset about other people and also discuss things that we all agree on. We all agree that in the globalized world that we live in, we have come to a point that firms, especially multinationals, are spread all over the world. Thus, this means that a change in the methods of production or their way of managing the Corporate Social (or in our case, environmental) Responsibility would affect differently all kinds of people and biospheres due to their circumstances. Therefore, we have particularly liked the innovations that especially focus on the particular needs of some stakeholders that feel more excluded but are affected by the consequences of the mismanagement of some corporate businesses.
As possible future entrepreneurs, we want to contribute to the sustainability of our future as many of these firms do, since we think that it will be much more needed due to climate change and industrialization.
Throughout this cultural learning experience, our group has been introduced to many new ideas, moments of enlightenment, and insight. Now that it is over, we have realized we have learnt along the way.
Coordinating across different times zones is hard. It’s hard when colleagues are 7 hours ahead, let alone across the entire globe almost an entire day ahead. As group, we coped very well at the start of this. Early mornings for the Canadian and late nights for the Indonesian were tough to coordinate with the Spaniards who had to sit through this meeting in the middle of the day when they have classes. In the end however, the moment that posed the biggest sense of confusion and honest delusion, was when the clocks were turned forward. None of knew us how deal with this minor issue, that it happened on different days, or that the Zoom meeting software did not take into account for any of the time changes.
Another lesson we learned for next time in the future, was to get better at hitting the ground running. It wasn’t until the third or fourth week that we really had a grasp of the entire assignment, and really aren’t entirely sure we still have a great grasp on the last day. Committing to disciplinary behaviour at least a few times a week is what helps out a lot when we’re in the endgame, and that’s something we learned we need to work on in the future for the next time.
Collaboratively, during our discussion in meetings we learned that we, as people who live across the globe in completely different cultural environments, weren’t all that different. Our values during the meetings were the same, or interests were relatively the same, and at the end of the day, everyone will complain about bad weather and rejoice beautiful weather no matter where you are. We all had not one trait in common, but many traits in common that we shared once a week. In doing so, we learned from each other, about each other, and ultimately about how strangers from across the globe can collectively come together and find compassion.
The last thing we learned during this process was to be adaptable. Covid is everywhere, but not all at the same time nor severity. On top of that, everyone’s life is going to go through ups and downs. It’s the job as a group to be adaptable, and push through those tough times to meet that end goal. We did it, and we learned from it, but perfecting our adaptability is a lesson we learned that might be one of the most important.
Butler, C. (2018). Climate change, health and existential risks to civilization: A comprehensive review (1989–2013). International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(10), 2266. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15102266
Compare countries – Hofstede Insights. Hofstede Insights. (2021, June 22). Retrieved April 3, 2022, from https://www.hofstede-insights.com/fi/product/compare-countries/
|Energryn, Hybrid Technology
|Innovation To Preserve The Future
|Green Oasis in the Desert
|BAUER Resources GmbH
|Molding a Greener Community
|Clean Energy from the Sea?
|Catalina Sea Ranch
|Chasing The Perfect Pellet
|Climate, Carbon and Energy Solutions
|Turning Food Waste into a Better Future
|Agro Recycling Ab (LantmÃ¤nnen Agroetanol AB)
|Making Food Out Of Thin Air
|We Make Forestry Matter
|A TIREless Effort for a Brighter Future
|The Road to Clean Water
|TecnologÃa de Micoalgas Salvando Vidas | Microalgae Technology Saving Lives
|High Tech Recycling
|BIOFASE: The Solution from Avocado Seed
|The Food Revolution App: Fighting Food Waste
|Wind and Solar Energy as an Efficient Source of Energy
|Imagining a World Where All Are Inspired to Live Sustainably
|Digitization of Healthcare
|Sthetho Health Systems
|Meeting Humanitarian Needs
|Giving Plastic Bottles a Second Chance