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My favorite Sustainable Development Goal

My favorite Sustainable Development Goal

25-09-2020 | Insight
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals were launched on 25 September 2015, with a mission to improve living standards around the world. The fifth anniversary of this auspicious event is celebrated in the Netherlands as SDG Action Day, with a string of events to highlight the aims and progress of this global call to arms.
The 17 SDGs cover a broad spectrum of sustainability topics, ranging from eliminating hunger and combating climate change, to promoting responsible consumption and making cities more sustainable. In this special report to mark the anniversary, Robeco’s Active Ownership team – whose work includes engaging with companies to improve their contributions to the SDGs – give their personal take on their own favorite goal.

Peter van der Werf: SDG 2 – zero hunger

Covid-19 is causing a global food emergency that could have long-term impacts on hundreds of millions of people around the world. The number of people facing acute food insecurity stands to double in 2020 to 265 million from 2019. This grim reality presents an enormous challenge: to end hunger by 2030, companies in the food and agriculture supply chain would need to design products to help smallholder farmers in developing countries produce enough food to feed their families and communities.

Cedric Hille: SDG 4 – quality education

Inclusive, high-quality education is the enabler for a more aware society. I am convinced that everyone aspires to be a lifelong learner, but the tools – such as qualified teachers and effective technology – need to be accessible for all. Such access is essential in fostering real progress on the challenges we otherwise risk passing down to future generations.

Robert Dykstra: SDG 9 – industry, innovation and infrastructure

SDG 9 is about going beyond compromise. In my opinion, that is also the overall theme of the SDG framework: to reach these 17 ambitious goals, we would need to think in new ways and act decisively. In particular, I would argue that, instead of pursuing a sustainable future at the expense of economic development, both can be achieved in tandem. Doing so will require investments in resilient infrastructure, innovative solutions and adaptive industries.

Laura Bosch: SDG 10 – reduced inequalities

Inequality constitutes a major obstacle to economic and social development. My view is that power and wealth inequalities turn into unequal opportunities, preventing societies from unleashing their full potential in an inclusive manner. This can undermine both social justice and respect for human rights, challenging the current social compact.

Cristina Cedillo: SDG 13 – climate action

Achieving net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century is the biggest challenge to our planet, and therefore to the global economy and to our contemporary lifestyle. In my role as engagement specialist in Robeco’s Active Ownership team, I see the enormous influence that the financial industry has in encouraging high-emitting industries to transition towards low-carbon business models, and in helping to finance this transition. Active Ownership is an essential tool for investors to better understand their exposure to climate-related risks and promote swift corporate action. I am pleased to be playing a part in contributing to this Sustainable Development Goal.

Carola van Lamoen: SDG 12 – responsible consumption and production

As head of Robeco’s Active Ownership team, I feel strongly about the responsibility we have through our corporate engagement programs. One of my main motivators is the desire to see humanity halting its ‘ecological overspending’ – our tendency since the 1970s to consume resources in excess of the earth’s capacity to regenerate those resources. The fact that this overspending is accelerating, combined with a growing world population – likely to reach 10 billion in 2050 – means it is essential that we move towards more responsible consumption and production. This is a huge challenge.

Ronnie Lim: SDG 16 – peace, justice and strong institutions

‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’ has the most personal significance for me, given its relevance to the markets I cover, namely the Asia-Pacific region. My view is that improving governance through ensuring the transparent and accountable behavior of our portfolio companies is the most legitimate and effective exercise of our influence as investors.

Sylvia van Waveren: SDG 17 – partnerships for the goals

Partnership is the key to success in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. In my work as engagement specialist focusing on the energy sector, I am acutely aware of the importance of encouraging the formation of climate partnerships between company boards and investors. Climate partnerships are needed if climate change targets are to be met. Robeco’s many years of engagement with the energy sector have already delivered some notable results, and I look forward to being part of the process of deepening these partnerships.
This story originally appeared in SIX,
our specialist sustainable investing publication.
Download it here.
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