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The sustainability elephant in the room

Have we bitten off more we can chew? That is the question we need to assess as we re-evaluate our journey to achieving global ESG goals set such as net zero by 2050 and the achievement of the 2030 sustainable development goals. As we approach the 2030 goal we are burdened with the surmountable projection of these goals. The premise of the goals were an encouraging gesture, in general they were designed by the global UN community in order to uplift the developing countries and set objectives for both the developing and developed countries which are aimed at improving the planet, life on the planet and building on institutions and communities. Although the SDGs were established in 2015, they were a project which were a long time coming. They were seeded as an idea in 1992 with Agenda 21 which was a plan of action to build a global partnership.

The goals need to be supported with a backup plan in case they are not achieved. We need to have an honest discussion about how we will navigate the goals should we fall short. We will also need to re-imagine the timelines which we have created as a community. I do not think it would be wise to extend the time frame but rather use it as a measuring stick to gauge what we have achieved by then and what we have not.

Last week FTSE Russell (a subsidiary of the London Stock Exchange Group) shared a report which showed that more than half of the companies on the London Stock Exchange which have set measurable net-zero targets are failing to meet them. This further increases the importance that we need to set smart goals not just in terms of the acronym (specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and time bound goals, we need to emphasise the realistic aspect, as it is not practical to set goals with the expectation of 100% perfect completion.

These goals are for the most part out of man’s control and by ensuring that we have different iterations of the achievement of these goals we can start having more attainable expectations and delivery.