The Sustainable Development Goals and Management Education – an Overview and Update

Over the past couple of years the international community has come together to create a range of far-reaching goals and targets to replace the previous set of goals, the Millennium Development Goals, which are set to expire at the end of this year. These cover a wide range of issues: social, environmental and economic. Their replacement, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been undergoing development through a collaborative process engaging a wide range of stakeholders, including business through the UN Global Compact. This new set of goals will be agreed upon in September, and will come into effect on the 1st of January 2016. They will help guide national priorities as well as the work of business and other organisations for the next 15 years. For a background of the SDG process, read this previous Primetime post.

Why should management education care?

It is crucial that business school students are knowledgeable about these goals, the implications on business, and the impact that business can have. Each provide both risks and opportunities for businesses of all sizes, and opportunities for business schools to partner with local, national and international businesses on these priorities. The SDGs provide a wealth of opportunities for collaboration with business around research and new programme development. Explore further how management education can engage in this here.

What are the seventeen goals?

The SDGs are made up of seventeen goals and 169 associated targets. The goals are:

Goal 1 End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Goal 2 End hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal 4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Goal 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Goal 7 Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Goal 8 Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Goal 9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation
Goal 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries
Goal 11 Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 13 Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Goal 14 Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Goal 15 Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managed forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Goal 16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions of all levels
Goal 17 Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development

How is the business sector engaged?

Based on extensive consultations with the Global Compact network of companies, a series of issue briefs were developed to explore the critical role business has to play in achieving the SDGs, and the willingness of the business community and higher education institutions to support the efforts of government and civil society in this work. A recently released document on the Global Compact and the SDGs explores why they are relevant to business The UN Global Compact and business internationally are committed to the SDGs.

What about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)?

The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015 was recently released. The report provides a final assessment of global and regional progress towards the MDGs since their endorsement in 2000. It shows that significant progress has been made across all goals and that the global efforts to achieve the MDGs have saved the lives of millions and improved conditions for many more around the world. The report also acknowledges uneven progress and shortfalls in many areas, which need to be addressed in the new SDGs.

What’s next?

A draft of the outcome document is now available, that will be signed by the Heads of State and Government of the 193 member States of the United Nations in New York from the 25-27 of September 2015. This document fully outlines all the goals and related targets. You can also follow the negotiations at the UN General Assembly live or watch past negotiations on UN WEB TV including the most recent intergovernmental negotiations, which took place on 22-25 June 2015.

Where to find out more?

Over the coming months I will be posting more information about the goals and how to engage students in them, as well as a range of resources that can be used in the classroom. For more information on the SDG process visit and For updates on the UN Global Compact’s engagement in the SDG visit For past Primetime posts covering the SDGs, click here.



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