So why are the SDG 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.
The Global Compact originally asked for one Corporate 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. The SDG Guidebooks open the door to the 300+ million businesses in the world. With the private sector contributing fully, the 2030 Agenda has a chance to be achieved. “Think globally, act locally. (Geddes, 1915)”
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