What are the SDGS?

What are the SDGS?

The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals — also known as Global Goals or the SDGs, and formally named Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — is an inter-governmental agreement of the United Nations and 193 countries.

The Global Goals provide a framework to be implemented by “all countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership” around a set of 17 specific, aspirational goals that address the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

With 169 targets to be met by the year 2030, and over 232 indicators for measuring progress, the Global Goals were designed to stimulate action in the following areas: people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnerships. In addition, the themes covered by Global Goals (which include poverty, hunger, health and well-being, education, equality, sanitation, decent work, and production) all reflect current challenges and risks facing the textile value chain. To learn more, visit the U.N.’s Sustainable Development website.

How can the Textile Industry advance these Targets?​

KPMG and Textile Exchange have partnered on an upcoming report entitled Threading the Needle: Weaving the SDGs into the textile, retail and apparel industry. A culmination of industry interviews, NGO inputs, and desk research, the report highlights shared value examples for companies in the sector grappling with how to integrate the SDGs into their core business and global supply chain.  The report builds on the SDG Industry Matrixes, by taking a value chain approach to corporate action on the SDGs specifically in the apparel sector.

Click here to receive notification of its publication.

What are the actual 17 Goals?

Select a specific goal below to learn more about the goal and its respective Targets. For an analysis of the opportunities for the Textile Industry to advance these Targets, please visit the Resources tab. For a current list of Indicators associated with the below Targets, please refer to the final list here.

What is the role of business & why do Global Goals matter to Textiles?

The Global Goals contemplate a role for the public sector, civil society and the private sector to address persistent global issues.The themes covered by Global Goals—poverty, hunger, health and wellbeing, education, equality, sanitation, decent work to name a few—all reflect issues that not only impact quality of life, security and fundamental human rights across the globe, but also directly impact the apparel and textile value network. In many cases, businesses have larger global footprints and resources than the GDPs of many countries and can play an important role in addressing these urgent global problems.

The SDGs include specific references to business, including: SDG 9, which recognizes that industrialization drives economic growth, creates job opportunities and thereby reduces income poverty; and, SDG 12, which promotes responsible production, and specifically encourages companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle in Target 12.6 and 12.6.1.

Several reports identifying global risks increasingly underscore the urgency to advance many of the themes identified by the Global Goals. According to the recently published Global Risks Report 2018, published by the World Economic Forum, environmental risks continue to dominate the risk landscape in 2018. The Report confirms last year’s trend and identifies “numerous areas where we are pushing systems to the brink, from extinction-level rates of biodiversity loss to mounting concerns about the possibility of new wars.” The top 5 global risks based on likelihood of occurrence cited in the report include extreme weather events, natural disasters and failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation. These same risks are also ranked in the top 5 global risks by impact along with the addition of the risk of water crisis.

Aon’s Global Risk Management Survey 2017, which identifies the top ten risks facing the textile sector, ranks damage to reputation and/or brand and corporate social responsibility and sustainability as top risks. Aon has identified linkages to economic, environmental and social factors such as climate change, which directly correlate to the themes underlying Global Goals. One example is that corporate social responsibility and sustainability risk can arise from environmental risk, climate change and natural resource scarcity and/or availability of raw materials.

When aligned with existing individual company priorities, Global Goals can offer opportunities for new business models, support innovation, reduce risks and ensure more resilient value chains.

According to the 2017’s Better Business, Better World report, from the Business & Sustainable Development Commission, “The goals provide the private sector with a new growth strategy that opens valuable market opportunities while creating a world that is both sustainable and inclusive.” The report evaluates 60 “hotspots” in four economic areas (food and agriculture; cities; energy and materials; and health and well-being) that could create at least US $12 trillion (or more than 10% of current GDP) in new market opportunities. While the report does not address apparel and textiles, it does cover agriculture and related cross-cutting issues and offers lessons for all industries.

Are the different goals connected to each other?

The Global Goals should be considered one integrated system. There is an evolving area of research on the various linkages among the 17 goals, and their respective targets, which can help identify priority areas and also areas where tradeoffs may occur. This body of information is increasingly important in identifying where investments can deliver the greatest impact toward one or more goals. A well-cited diagram of Global Goals as a network of targets was recently published by David Le Blanc, a Senior Sustainable Development Officer in the Division for Sustainable Development, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), and his recent mapping of the linkages for Goal 14, which calls for conserving and sustainably using oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development, shows the complex interdependencies.

Similarly, a recent science-based analysis by the International Council for Science (ICSU) of four goals and their interlinkages concludes that the goals and targets are “mostly synergistic” with other goals and targets, with 316 target-level interactions overall, of which 238 are positive, 66 are negative, and 12 are neutral. Evaluating the interlinkages and their impacts can provide important direction on targeted investments. Noting linkages and tradeoffs will also allow parties to identify different points of intervention.

How much progress has been made on the goals so far?

A report is issued annually by the Secretary General during the UN’s High-level Political Forum (HLPF), the platform that reviews progress on Global Goals by Member States and the UN’s specialized agencies. While the latest report notes that there has been some progress towards achieving the goals, the current pace of progress will not achieve them by 2030. It is, therefore, incumbent on the private sector to fulfill its role in partnership with other global actors. In July of 2018, the UN reviewed progress on SDG 6, 7, 11, 12, 15 and 17 and a summary of their thematic review is available below. 

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How is Textile Exchange supporting the Global Goals?

Textile Exchange supports and has incorporated the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals into its strategy with a mission to mainstream the Goals in the Textile and Apparel Industry. The Goals represent 17 aspirational global goals to end poverty, protect the environment, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved by 2030. The Goals provide a framework and targets to ensure a more resilient textile value chain and also provide a universal construct for taking action as an industry.

Textile Exchange published Achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Through Organic Cotton in 2016. In 2017, Textile Exchange started to incorporate certain Global Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) indicators in its Preferred Fiber & Materials Benchmark (2017), showing the impact of the use of preferred fibers and materials. Textile Exchange also launched an SDG Action Roundtable in 2017 which will support and help direct its work in support of the Global Goals through 2030. In October 2017, Textile Exchange devoted a substantial portion of its annual conference themed “United by Action: Catalyzing the Sustainable Development Goals in Textiles” to the Global Goals, with relevant presentations being included throughout this SDG resource channel.

Want to learn more?

Download a Primer on the Global Goals!