The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


In 2015, all 193 member countries of the United Nations adopted a resolution known as the “Agenda 2030”. The aim of this agenda is the achievement of sustainable development until 2030, that is the achievement of human development needs across the globe, taking into account the constraints of natural ecosystems. The achievement of the Agenda 2030 is guided by 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or “Global Goals”, which are accompanied by a total of 169 targets and 231 indicators.

In order to fulfill the highly interdependent SDGs, all members of the global community, be that from civil society, intergovernmental bodies, academia or the private sector, are called upon to maximise their respective contributions. Goal 17 recognises that this endeavour must be underpinned by global and cross-sector collaboration to bring together the requisite knowledge, technologies, financial capital and political prowess.

The SDG imperative

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates that the financing gap to achieve the SDGs amounts to US$2.5 trillion annually in developing countries alone.1 In view of this challenge, financial institutions and businesses have a tremendous role to play for the attainment of the world’s sustainable development needs.

Engagement with the SDGs is not only a “nice-to-have”; it simply makes good business sense. In fact, it is estimated that the private sector can unlock more than US$12 trillion in business opportunities by delivering on the most promising Global Goals.2 Business leaders in Asia and around the world have already recognised that the pursuit of SDGs offers outstanding opportunities for value creation and value protection, resulting in measurable returns for businesses and society. At the same time, it is clear that business-as-usual will not suffice; the SDGs need to be integrated in core business activities for firms and society to thrive.

You will find a brief overview of each SDG, key insights from the ASEAN3 region, what business can do to contribute to each SDG and some examples of existing approaches.


1 UNCTAD (2014), from:
2 Business and Sustainable Development Commission (2017), from:
3 ASEAN refers to The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, consisting of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. 

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