What is SDG and ESG?

This is not the first time in history that people have tried to save the world. In 1949, the United Nations Scientific Conferences on the Conservation and Utilization of Resources was held in Lake Success, NY State. It was the UN’s first body to address the depletion of natural resources and their exploitation.

Two thirds of a century later, we have yet to accomplish a sustainable economy. Apparently, changing the habits and attitudes of more than 7 billion people who speak over 7,000 languages and live in nearly 200 countries presents a few challenges. And that is where the UN’s SDG’s and ESG may finally be the change we all so desperately need.

These two acronyms may not seem like much at first. After all, don’t we have enough acronyms already? We do. But these two may actually be the most influential acronyms in the history of our species. And if you have never heard of them before, then don’t worry you are not alone. But in less than a generation, if we are lucky, every child will know exactly what they mean. SDG stands for Sustainable Development Goals and ESG refers to quantifiable and measurable factors that represent sustainable practices. In other words, they are the cornerstone of accountability. If you really want to live in a world of accountability, then read on!

So, what exactly are SDG and ESG?

SDGs are part of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They are a series of 17 goals to be completed by 2030 as a part of transitioning to a new global circular economy. These include things like creating sustainable economies, universal education and saving our water supply.

ESG is a way of investing or assessing companies on their environmental, social and governance performance while also considering financial returns. It has become increasingly popular with investors who want to invest responsibly while still making a profit. And it the guidelines by which to hold companies accountable for their actions. SDG stands for Sustainable Development Goals and ESG refers to factors that are defined by the 3 Pillars of Sustainability.

The invasion of Ukraine is a tectonic shift of the global economy. With 70% of carbon emissions being business related, the risk for companies now is to be left behind. On the other hand, the opportunity for companies now is to show leadership.

Why are they important?

As it is, human progress has come with an environmental price tag for the past 10,000 years of civilization. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere are at unprecedented levels and that they need to be reduced by 45% before 2050 if we are to prevent irreversible climate change. Let’s face it. If we destroy the habitability of our planet, it is only a matter of time before the earth corrects itself. It might be too late for us, but the planet will live on. But the IPCC numbers have changed recently as more data has come to light.

The importance of these two ideas lies in the fact that both SDG and ESG focus on long-term solutions. In an increasingly uncertain world, with fear for the future of the planet due to climate change, people are looking for greener pastures. Staying resilient is no longer good enough. Now is the time for true sustainability – which encompasses both social and environmental factors. Together SDG and ESG provide a framework in which businesses and organizations can strive to be truly sustainable.

They are important because they provide guidelines and a goal to aim for. They are also important because they are not static. The goals and guidelines are always evolving as we learn more about how to live sustainably on this planet.

In short, SDG and ESG provide a roadmap for a sustainable future. A future in which we can all thrive, not just survive.

So, what can you do?

The most important thing you can do is to educate yourself and others about these two concepts. Sustainability is a journey, not a destination. And it is one that we are all on whether we realize it or not, and we are on it together. Every person in every country. You can also support businesses and organizations that are striving to be sustainable. And finally, you can vote with your wallet and invest in companies that are adhering to ESG guidelines. The future is uncertain. But with SDG and ESG, we have a chance to make it a little bit brighter. Will you join us?


The most recent Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, has helped push SDG and ESG even further into the limelight. The global community has reaffirmed their commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals and they will need to keep working together in order to achieve them.

That’s not to say there isn’t still a problem – without SDG and ESG, it would be virtually impossible for the global economy to move forward because of a lack of direction. With a failing global economy, such as with supply chain issues, food insecurity or trade tariffs, we’re going to have a tough time achieving sustainable development. It will take continued cooperation between nations or even further economic crisis before we can get anywhere near these goals.

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What are the UN SDGs?

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a comprehensive guide to what needs to be done by 2030 to improve the world for all people. They include 17 goals with 169 associated targets designed to end poverty, fight inequality and stop climate change. And achieving these requires more efficient labour markets, greater financial stability and a more capable state.

What are the 17 UNsdgs?

The 17 UN SDGs are:

1. No Poverty

2. Zero Hunger

3. Good Health and Well-Being

4. Quality Education

5. Gender Equality

6. Clean Water and Sanitation

7. Affordable and Clean Energy

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth

9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

10. Reduced Inequalities

11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

12. Responsible Consumption and Production

13. Climate Action

14. Life Below Water

15 Life on Land

16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

17. Partnerships for the Goals

What is the difference between ESG and SDGs?

The main differences are as follows:

  • SDGs are global goals set out by the United Nations, whereas ESG is a rating system used by companies to measure their environmental and social credentials.
  • ESG measures how well a company is performing in terms of its social and environmental responsibilities throughout its supply chain and operations – as opposed to looking at the wider context of human rights.
  • SDGs are time bound i.e. they have to be achieved by 2030, whereas ESG focuses on long-term solutions and is more high level than the Sustainable Development Goals, which focus on specific targets around the world.

Why aren’t SDGs enough?

SDGs are not sufficient in themselves to achieve sustainable development. There are many problems that we will need to solve, including:

  • Working conditions in the supply chain – working hours, wages etc.
  • Corruption and bribery issues – workers’ rights can be suppressed by corrupt governments or other organisations.
  • Child labour issues.
  • Water shortages – due to drought, climate change or other factors.
  • Corruption in the management of natural resources – such as forests, minerals etc.

Without solving these problems it is impossible for any company to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. For example, if a company is buying from suppliers who use child labour, then that company is complicit in the exploitation of children. ESG aims to solve these problems by holding companies accountable for their actions and ensuring that they are adhering to best practices.

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What are some companies doing to support SDGs?

There are many companies around the world that are working to support the Sustainable Development Goals. They are examining their own operations and supply chains to see where they can make improvements. Here are some examples:

  • Nike has committed to using 100% sustainable cotton by 2025 in order to reduce its environmental impact.
  • Adidas is working to improve the working conditions of its suppliers and has set up a monitoring system to ensure that factories are adhering to its code of conduct.
  • H&M has committed to using only sustainable viscose by 2020 in order to protect forests and the people who live in them.

These are just a few examples of what companies are doing to support the Sustainable Development Goals. But it is not just the corporate giants who are making a difference. With over 200 million small and medium business (SMB) worldwide, they will play a big part in the change that is coming. Or they may become unsustainable.

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What can SMBs do to support SDGs?

There are many things that small and medium businesses (SMBs) can do to support the Sustainable Development Goals. Here are some examples:

1. Review your operations and supply chain – identify where you can make changes to reduce your environmental and social impact.

2. Set up a monitoring system – make sure that your suppliers are adhering to your code of conduct and that working conditions are improve.

3. Use sustainable materials – look for opportunities to use sustainable materials in your products or packaging.

4. Educate your employees and customers – raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals and how your company is supporting them.

5. Advocate for change – use your platform to call for change at the policy level.

Since SMBs employ at least 50% of the American workforce, and over 200 million SMB’s worldwide, they play a vital role in supporting the Sustainable Development Goals. By working together, we can ensure that these goals are achieved by 2030.

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How does ESG work with SDGs?

ESG is a rating system used by companies to measure their environmental and social credentials. This means that businesses can rate themselves on criteria such as:

E: Their environmental policies and practices.

S: Their social policies and practice.

G: Their governance policies and practices.

The aim of ESG is to encourage businesses to improve their environmental and social credentials in order to attract investment. And when we say investment, this includes their stakeholders which includes not only shareholders but also employees, customers, suppliers, and the communities in which they operate. A company’s success is not only measured by its financial performance but also by how it treats its people and the planet.

  • Environmental footprint: greenhouse gas emissions, waste water and energy usage
  • Social impact: labour standards, pay equality and diversity in the workforce
  • Financial performance: financial stability, shareholder returns etc.
  • Community contribution: charity work, local employment and local environmental projects
  • Governance: board structure, leadership, risk management and internal controls

Stakeholders and investors search out these factors for companies which have strong social and environmental policies in place. Companies with good ESG scores can rewarded with investment, improved reputation and access to new markets. But the data also provides a yardstick by which they can measure progress. This will help to identify companies that are not making efforts to be sustainable and bring change or something more permanent.

The Sustainable Development Goals are part of a long process to create lasting change, because the cost of not doing so is too high.

What is the next step in responsible investment?

The Sustainable Development Goals are part of a long process to create lasting change. They will only be achieved with the help of other global compacts, such as the COP 21 Paris Climate Agreement and COP26 in 2021, which was recently ratified by scores of countries around the world. However it’s clear that without the Sustainable Development Goals, the other compacts will be fruitless.

For business, the next step in socially responsible ESG investment is to develop a strategic plan that aligns with your company’s mission, vision and values. A good place for you start would be by answering these three questions: 

  1. What do we want our sustainability efforts look like?
  2. What are some specific actions or changes that will help us achieve this goal over time?
  3. And finally how can stakeholders engaged around these issues benefit from such plans as well being put into place?”

Get a head start on your critics by investing in alternative options while you begin the ESG process.

For investors, ESG investment has been on the rise for years now and is seen as a key to sustainable economic development. The next logical step in socially responsible investing includes increasing your risk awareness. Because the field is changing at lightning speed, it is will be difficult for most of us to keep up with the fluctuations in the sustainability sector. But the first step is to invest in educating yourself about the markets, and working with others who are already having success.

What are the SDGs ESG trying to achieve?

The Sustainable Development goals are not just an idealistic idea, they were established by the UN as a way of re-framing our view on development. The 17 goals cover such issues as poverty, equality and climate change – all considered key threats to humanity in the 21st century. These goals also encompass such issues as promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, building sustainable infrastructure and creating sustainable cities – ensuring that they can be free of poverty. Sustainable Development Goals are an integrated approach to combating the complex nature of these problems.

How do ESG and SDGs work together?

ESG and SDGs work together to determine how a company or any business for that matter can achieve sustainable development. There are currently 17 SDGs which have been established by the United Nations to help guide companies and organizations through achieving sustainable development practices.

The ESG factors are guidelines in helping determine whether a product is contributing positively (positive production externalities) to the environment, society, and governance of an organization. These factors are also used to measure general results in the organization.

SDGs work together with ESG factors by providing guidelines on how an organization can achieve sustainable development goals within their company, products, and services.

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Is ESG part of SDG?

Yes and no. ESG is a subset of SDGs. ESG is used to measure environmental, social and governance practices within an organization. By incorporating sustainable development practices into daily business operations and products and services, organizations can achieve success through the use of ESG factors which will eventually integrate with SDGs.

What is ESG UN?

ESG in relation to the UN is a subset of goals developed by the UN to help guide companies and organizations through achieving sustainable development practices. There are currently 17 goals which have been established, but as time goes on there may be more added or removed to form a better path for companies and stakeholders to follow in terms of sustainability. The UN has no power over enforcing these goals; however they do have a large platform to promote these goals and encourage companies to follow them along with different countries around the world.

What is the difference between CSR and ESG?

The difference between CSR and ESG is that CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibility and ESG stands for Environmental, Social, Governance. These two words are sometimes confused with each other but both stand for a company’s commitment to social responsibility which is a key factor in sustainable development.

CSR sets a guideline for companies on how they can achieve social responsibility within their products and services while ESG sets a guideline for companies on how they can achieve environmental and social goals within their products and services.

Does ESG make a company look good?

Yes, but this is not the sole purpose of having an ESG plan in place at a company or organization. When it comes to sustainable development there are many factors that go into measuring how well an organization is doing. ESG factors are just another factor that adds to the overall success of sustainable development practices at a company or organization.

How can you measure ESG?

ESG can be measured in many ways, but one main way is through using social responsibility indicators which provide information on how an organization can improve their ESG factors. These indicators provide information on things such as labour practices, waste management, and environmental management which are all important factors within an organization to measure.

In conclusion on sustainable development goals

To summarize this article, we looked at what SDG and ESG stand for as well as the difference between them. We also discussed how they work together as a whole to achieve sustainable development goals and how organizations can incorporate these factors into their daily business operations. ESG is not part of SDGs, but it is a subset of goals developed by the UN to help guide companies and organizations. You will hearing a lot more about these two as we move into becoming a carbon free society.

What does the UN mean by decent work?

Decent work is a key part of any successful society according to the UN. “Decent work” is a term that the UN uses to refer to work that does not infringe on human dignity. This can be employment in dangerous or exploitative conditions, for example. It can also mean a job that doesn’t offer workers enough hours, or a living wage.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 goals that were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015. They are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The challenge of achieving decent work is compounded by the fact that 7 out of 10 jobs in developing countries are in vulnerable forms of employment. And those challenges are not only in the developing world. In the United States, for instance, many jobs are low-wage and offer few benefits or protections.

The UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) has been working to promote decent work around the world since its founding in 1919. The ILO defines “decent work” as work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration.

Caveats, disclaimers & economic growth

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