Danes, know your Global Goals

Part of a series of business columns in Danish newspaper Fyens Stiftstidende
Author: Camilla Haustrup Hermansen, Director of Business Development
Published: 13.06.2021

It is often said that Denmark is a world champion in green solutions and the Sustainable Development Goals. But we actually have some pretty embarrassing records in several areas. Let me give you a specific example. If everyone in the world had the same consumption pattern as Danes do, 4,3 globes would be needed. There is no way that this can be sustainable or durable – or whatever you want to call it. Then why don’t we change it?

Former Danish Climate Minister Connie Hedegaard and Professor Katherine Richardson have set out to investigate this in a new podcast series called De Utålmodige (“The Impatient”). For several years, the two experienced hosts have listened to countless speeches and seen enough graphs that call for action. Therefore, they are looking for answers to why we do not change our habits in Denmark, when the world’s alarm bells are flashing red and we know what it takes to reach the Global Goals in time.

According to World’s Best News, 76% of Danes know the Sustainable Development Goals. That is great and, in many ways, a unique starting point. Last year, more than 6,000 Danes put forward their ideas on how we can measure our work with the Global Goals and track the development in Denmark towards 2030. 197 concrete, Danish measuring points emerged from this, and they can be found in the report Our Goals, prepared by the Danish Parliament’s 2030-panelet (“Panel 2030”) and Statistics Denmark. But we need more Danes to know the Global Goals and the Danish measuring points. And we need even more people to act on them. Therefore, it is great that a number of Danish foundations such as Industriens Fond, Lundbeckfonden, Nordea-fonden, Realdania and Spar Nord Fonden have joined forces with World’s Best News to spread awareness about the Global Goals. Thus, the launch of the podcast is the first step of a major project called Dansker, kend dine Verdensmål (“Dane, know your Global Goals”), which aims to bring the Danes’ extensive knowledge about the Global Goals into further action.

And that is not all. Last Thursday, the Danish Government presented its action plan for the efforts to reach the 17 Global Goals. We should not just know and act on the Global Goals as individuals. It goes without saying that the efforts must be rooted particularly in the Government, because in 2015 Denmark joined the Sustainable Development Goals along with 179 nations to create the framework for sustainable development on a global level. The plan for the Global Goals includes 15 new initiatives, many of which focus on the areas in which Denmark is lagging behind. Global Goal no. 12, which is about responsible consumption, is one of these areas. And that makes sense, considering the way we continue depleting the planet’s resources as Danes.

It is gratifying that many of the initiatives call for closer and stronger cooperation with the business world, because it makes perfect sense. Many Danish companies are ready – if not already up and running – and can contribute with concrete solutions, insight, vision and knowledge. One of the initiatives in the Government’s plan for the Global Goals is developing a new climate model. The aim is to project the global climate footprint that Danish consumers generate by consuming goods produced abroad. In my view, this is oftentimes a blind spot in the climate efforts in Denmark because it is quite complex. However, that does not mean that we can close our eyes to it. Other notable initiatives are guidance and advice on sustainable and responsible global value chains for Danish companies that manufacture abroad, as well as further development of the tool Climate Compass for ensuring easy access for entrepreneurs and companies, so they can calculate their CO2 footprint. This is just to name a few.

Now, the question is: How will the Government convert these initiatives into concrete actions? This is where “the impatient hosts” come into play – because there is an urgent need for more action if we want Denmark to achieve the Global Goals. I know that I have written about this before. Working with the Global Goals takes courage, ambition and will. Perhaps it requires a dismantling of our basic assumptions – as human beings, as citizens and as leaders, because the Global Goals do not just concern the external issues in society. They are also about people’s personal convictions. They reach a long way into the way we think. The way we behave, lead and make decisions as humans. Every single day. So, you need to relate to whether you believe in the vision the Global Goals contain. If you do believe, then the time is in for action.

The Global Goals force many companies to reassess the truths and systems that they embody. Truths and systems that have certainly provided them with value and growth, perhaps without fully considering the pull on the Earth’s resources and the people-related, social and environmental challenges that come with it. Working with the Global Goals is also an invitation to constantly examining the core, asking the difficult questions and constantly returning to and reassessing the imprint that one’s core business leaves. The Global Goals give us all the greatest opportunities to make a true, positive difference in the world. At the same time, they articulate the greatest challenges and the most difficult question for us all: What more can we do? Perhaps that is exactly where the most important part of working with the Global Goals starts – in the search for answers, action and concrete solutions that can support a more sustainable development towards 2030. Do you know your Global Goals?