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Accelerating sustainable development

Since their creation in 2015, the SDGs are gaining ground among stakeholders. But according to Hugo von Meijenfeldt, Co-ordinator Implementation SDGs at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the pace of change must accelerate. “Too often I am preaching to the converted. That is not effective.”

Actionable goals
Still, Hugo has experience in speaking to people less involved in sustainability. “At one occasion, only one person in the audience knew about the existence of the SDGs”, Hugo recalls. “The SDGs are intended to provide all organisations in society with actionable goals to collaboratively build a better, more sustainable world.”

A perfect fit
Creating awareness starts with education, so Hugo welcomes the initiative of Museon to fully embrace the SDGs as the framework for their permanent exhibition. “The SDGs are a perfect fit for Museon”, says Friso Visser, Museon’s director of education & presentation. “As Hugo says, the SDGs are about actionable goals. But to many people they are too abstract. We show our visitors – especially children – how this impacts their daily lives.”

Universal and interrelated
The SDGs are connected to concrete targets on strong issues like the eradication of poverty, hunger or child labour, the quality of life on land and below water, creating sustainable cities, achieving gender equality and so on. The main difference with

the millennium goals is, that the SDGs are essentially universal. They are not about the developed world supporting the underprivileged in developing countries in a one-way relation. The SDGs are interrelated and put social, environmental and economic issues on the agenda which impact all people in all countries.

A more active government
For us at Schuttelaar & Partners, the SDGs are important to shape our consultation and communication services to our clients. From the business community and from the civil society and the government. “Yes, the government should play a more active role”, Hugo says. “Together with all stakeholders we can use the SDGs to plan for the future. We are already very active in water management. Do we put even more effort here, or do we look at other more pressing issues? When it comes to reducing CO2-emissions and supporting renewable energy, The Netherlands is lagging! Dutch women earn on average 13% less than men for the same work! On higher management levels in Dutch companies, women are under-represented. Just to name a few priorities…”

Hugo is also convinced that the youth should be added as important stakeholders, hence the importance of education. “Society should invest much more funding and effort in education, as this is the only way forward”, Friso stresses. “Educating children with small pieces of concrete information they can easily grasp, is a feasible way to make sustainable solution thinking mainstream.”

Green populism
Hugo takes it a step further: “transitions in fields of renewable energy, alternative sources for animal protein and the like, are now underway. This will only succeed in getting the message of the SDGs across to as many people as possible. This requires a co-ordinated approach actively supported by the government. We need to offset climate scepticism and populism by green populism. This is where SDGs come into play, to accelerate the pace of positive change. As soon as we are all doing the right thing, I don’t mind if they are not referred to anymore.”

We at Schuttelaar & Partners enjoyed an inspiring session on the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Museon, the museum for culture and science in The Hague. The SDGs are key to all organisations that want to make the world a better place. This surely holds true for Schuttelaar & Partners, and we will regularly provide an update on our vision in supporting these goals. Within our own organisation and in our collaboration with our customers and other stakeholders.