Why is Producing the UN SDG Corporate Guidebooks Hard?

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Of course it’s hard. Have you read the whole UN SDG ratifying document? 35 Pages without a single Target Indicator!

So why are the Guidebooks hard to produce? The original 2015 document ratified by the UN had 169 Targets and not a single measure to hold the nations accountable. You will read our teams’ Insights into the Target Indicators that were developed in 2017 and whether they can be of use in your own KPIs on your SDG initiatives.

Why is Producing the UN SDG Corporate Guidebooks Hard?

The Global Compact originally asked for one Guidebook to cover all 15 Goals and 169 Targets. And a whole book could be written on any one of those Targets. The Goals are complex enough that some Targets use the same Indicators in entirely different SDGs. There is connectivity and interlinkages that remind me of some piece of needlework; pulling on one thread pulls everything out. How can you solve SDG 2 Hunger without solving SDG 1 Poverty? and solve SDG 1 Poverty without solving SDG 8 Work & Economic Growth?

Very little in this arena is trivial. The world has had poverty for thousands of years. Is it hubris to commit to eliminating it in fifteen years? Maybe, but it was and continues to be the right thing to do. If this were easy, it would have been done already. And with climate and environmental change, it is even more important now than in 2015.

To research and write these Guidebooks requires a team motivated by passion, because this is hard, non-trivial, with low expectation for monetary return. Just explaining the UN SDG Corporate Guidebook Series to people can take time. Recruiting experts and approaching them in their area of expertise is a delicate operation.

And we need experts who are eager to learn. Some do not feel the need to learn the tools needed to contribute, so this project is not right for them. [Continual Improvement for Social Responsibility, ISO26000, etc.] Others are interested but life, work, pandemic intervene. [We have had to learn to be flexible on this project.] Some are so used to being the top person that it is difficult to work within a globally diverse team of equals. Coordinating these teams can feel like herding cats. But when it works, high-performing teams, when each is contributing at full intellectual capability, are much more than the sum of the parts. It can feel like magic.

As Editor and Research Director, Andrea Hoffmeier and I are alternately coaches, diagnosticians, teachers, leaders, support staff smoothing the way, cheerleaders, and shoulders to cry on. Our teams have dealt with illness and deaths in families as everyone else has. And our contributors come back after loss with that added layer of experience and insight because of how important the project is and the support from our global community.

As we delve into the Targets, the interlinkages, the challenges and opportunities, we are breaking fresh ground for businesses around the world of all sizes to make a difference in their communities. With the private sector contributing fully, the 2030 Agenda has a chance to be achieved. “Think globally, act locally. (Geddes, 1915)”

Copyright 2021 C. Holder and SHERPA Institute.  All rights reserved – please cite and link to this web page.

By Carla Holder

Carla Holder serves SHERPA Institute as the Research Director for the UN Sustainable Development Goals Corporate Guidebook Series. She has a long history of involvement and activism in environmental and human rights causes starting in secondary school reading Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” and continuing throughout life, particularly with the Sierra Club but also many other groups. With a BA from Cornell University, double major in mathematics and chemistry, and an MBA with High Distinction from University of Michigan (Ross), double concentration in finance and strategic planning, she has had a long successful career. She worked for MassMutual Life Insurance, General Motors, Unilever and the education industry. Ms. Holder is a 42-year member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a senior member and past local board member of the American Society for Quality (ASQ), and has served in many non-profit boards and as a judge for science and technology competitions for secondary schools. As Research Director, Ms. Holder fills many roles: as SDG Researcher for all SDGs, as Meta-Researcher gathering and analyzing data on Global Compact companies, and as Corporate Liaison. The biggest role is training and coaching the Researchers and Research Interns. In particular, she meets with Interns regularly to provide them requests from the SDG teams, to answer their questions, encourage their dreams, and keep them on track. Ms. Holder’s role as co-author on SDG 3 Good Health is personal. Having had to learn to walk four times as a child due to multiple surgeries, she has spent much time with medical personnel. While still a middle schooler, she presented her own case at grand rounds at a New York City teaching hospital better than many of the residents. She has researched and managed health, accessibility, and insurance issues for herself and family, led support groups on health issues, and knows the importance of being an informed consumer and having an advocate while sick. Her driver for involvement in the Meta-Project overall is SDG 13, Climate Action, due to the climate refugees and deaths that will result if not addressed. This led her to connect with Ms. Andrea Hoffmeier at an ASQ section meeting and join SHERPA. Besides her role as Research Director and co-author for SDG 3, Ms. Holder also recruits new contributors and coaches all the SDG Teams along with Ms. Hoffmeier. The pair also are super admins for the various platforms SHERPA uses. Ms. Holder is originally from New York and now lives in the Huntsville, Alabama area nicknamed “Rocket City” for its contributions to getting to the Moon. She is active in her church, a vocalist, and also gardens, both fruit and vegetables.

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