Achieving SDGs requires global cooperation

Implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN Agenda 2030 is no easy task. The SDGs aim to tackle all the key sustainability challenges that we are facing globally. Rather than making trade-offs between different SDGs, we need to seek solutions that simultaneously strengthen the economy, promote welfare and decrease the pressure on the climate and environment.

The SDGs are linked to various sectors, activities and policy areas in many ways. For example, businesses have a crucial role to play in achieving the SDGs, mainly by generating jobs and wellbeing. The opposite holds true as well:  SDGs enhance economic and social development by promoting infrastructure, innovation and education. Some SDGs in turn set requirements and limitations, mostly related to the protection of people, workers or the environment.

The SDGs must be considered in both domestic and foreign policies. However, the goals can only be achieved through global commitment and cooperation between countries, both bilaterally and within multilateral organisations. Foreign trade and investment are good examples of the relationship between SDGs and global action: trade plays a key role in meeting SDGs, while on the other hand, SDGs shape the global trade agenda. Integrating SDGs into trade policy is a matter of enhancing rules-based, open, non-discriminatory and equitable trade, as called for by SDG 17.

The implementation of the Paris Agreement is closely connected to trade and investment, as they are vital ways of delivering energy and climate solutions: technologies, products and services. Technology cooperation is another field of global action that helps mitigate climate change. Improving resource efficiency and enhancing the circular economy at global level also contribute to climate change abatement. While the transition towards a carbon-neutral and circular economy is a huge challenge, it can - at its best - help achieve a wide range of SDGs.

About the author:

Tellervo Kylä-Harakka-Ruonala

Vice-President of the Employers' Group

Vice-President of Sustainable Development Observatory

Work organisation