“Volunteerism is a source of community strength, resilience, solidarity and social cohesion. It brings positive social change by fostering respect for diversity, equality and the participation of all. It is among society’s most vital assets.”
In case you hadn’t noticed, we are 12 months in from the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals. This week is #GlobalGoals (a much better brand to reach the great unengaged audience we need) week as the UN General Assembly gets underway and year two of fifteen toward 2030 begins.
Recently I reached out to one promising initiative aligned to a pet project back in Liverpool. The reason I reached out to IMPACT 2030 was primarily for one key reason. It is private sector led. Whilst UN backed this is the business world rapidly coalescing from their own acceptance of responsibility and ability to lead. There are a whole host of reasons to explore IMPACT 2030, but for me when the private sector steps up, stuff gets done. Admittedly that stuff isn’t always the most morally acceptable when created in isolation, but this is different, it is a genuine and transparent partnership platform based on overcoming the biggest social and environmental challenges.
Another key element is the language being used. Volunteering, like CSR and other terminology has an image problem. IMPACT 2030 aims to reframe the debate using ‘human capital investment‘ in place of the more patriarchal terms like pro bono and volunteering, often seen as a cost or superfluous bolt-on activities. To encourage the private sector to significantly increase participation they have to see returns on investment, and in terms they understand and also appeal across the boardroom.
Philanthropy also absolutely has to be part of the equation as there will often be challenges that will never strategically fit investment propositions, but this focus on a more accepted private sector language can only increase awareness and impact.
So, in short, IMPACT 2030 aims to stimulate human capital investment in employees and align with the 17 Global Goals through awareness raising and support. The demonstrations of successes so far were a clear sign that the initiative’s momentum is building.
The standout case study of the Summit was between GSK and SAP combing their data and healthcare expertise to carefully listen to the local needs in Rwanda, map relevant employee skills and deliver a pilot project with Partners in Health within a mere three weeks. IMPACT 2030’s potential for human capital investment leverage is huge within their global remit. “These companies, so far, represent millions of talented people across 220 countries” said Executive Director Dr. Tauni Lanier.
The Mayor of Philadelphia was also in town to share the city-wide story of commitment to IMPACT 2030 and the wider Sustainable Development Goals, with particular emphasis on schools.
The always entertaining, and originally from Liverpool, Sir Ken Robinson shared wonderful insights from a creative and education perspective, even managing to connect the population explosion to the release of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band!
I understand that IMPACT 2030 is only twelve months old, yet has made significant impacts and collaborations, but I did get a sense that the 99% was being overlooked. I often attend similar events and the reasoning for corporate focus is clear. Scale, or rather the appearance of ability to scale, as this isn’t always the outcome. The business world below the corporate threshold is yet again the audience that scarce available resources are appearing to push too far down the priority list. Approximately 50% of private sector turnover comes from SMEs which also has approximately 60% of employees in many global economies. If we are really going to make the Global Goals mainstream, it is essential that far more consideration is given to engaging with the smaller business community.
IMPACT 2030 will not be a US based ivory tower. A growing army of territory based Regional Voices has been identified to ensure, and trust me, I saw this passion, that the Global Goals become very Local Goals too. By having people on the ground who understand the needs of local communities, acting as advocates, brokering partnerships and reporting measured impact back to a centralised portal the project should deliver results.
The also originally from Liverpool (can you see any patterns here?) IMPACT 2030 Vice Chair, Sue Stephenson perfectly summed up the whole event with the wonderful African proverb
“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.
For more information check out the links below:
Twitter list for Impact 2030 (shout out if I missed you!)