Advancing Life & Work

Making the Global Goals HPE’s Business

Guest contributor Gail Klintworth, Business Transformation Director, Business & Sustainable Development Commission


2015 was a year filled with positive achievements for our collective future, with the adoption of both the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement.  However, in 2016, the voices of many in the world told us clearly that good intentions are not enough and that the current economic system is broken for them, with many asking whether the costs of globalisation are greater than its benefits. And now, nearly half-way into 2017, the world continues to face economic, social, environmental and political uncertainty.

Business certainly shoulders some of the responsibility for these uncertain times. Corporate scandals and allegations of wrong-doing, involving Wells Fargo, Tesco, Fox, VW, Samsung, and most recently United Airlines, dominate the media. It is therefore not surprising that public perception of business is at an all-time low. Edelman’s 2017 Trust Barometer shows just 37% of survey respondents believe CEOs are credible.

At the same time, business is being challenged to fuel growth and deliver stronger returns in a world economy that has still not recovered from the 2007-2008 financial crisis.  What are CEOs and businesses to do? Drive short-term gains and hope that their businesses will do no harm and weather the current storm unscathed, or find a way to address what is increasingly being characterised as a broken economic system?

The good news is that the world has a blueprint that maps the way toward a fairer, more inclusive global economy, the way for business to deliver its profit motive in service of society, and a way for business to earn the trust it needs. That blueprint is the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In 2016, the Business & Sustainable Development Commission set out to make a strong business case for sustainable development. The Commission’s flagship report, Better Business, Better World, shows there is a compelling incentive for why aligning business strategies and investment with the SDGs is not only good for the environment and society; it also makes good business sense.

The findings are unequivocal: The SDGs, also called the Global Goals, offer a compelling growth strategy for the world economy.


Highlights of the report’s findings include:

  • An economic prize of up to US$12 trillion by 2030 for the private sector, which could reach $30 trillion through even broader Global Goal opportunities.
  • 60 “hotspots” opportunities in the four economic systems reviewed by the Commission – food and agriculture, cities, energy and materials, and health and well-being – which generate business revenue & savings equal to 10% of forecast global GDP. These 60 Global Goals hotspots can grow 2-3 times faster than the global economy.
  • Up to 380 million jobs created by Global Goal business opportunities [in the four systems] by 2030.
  • Pricing external costs such as climate change increases the “real” size of the prize by an additional 40 percent.

To realise these opportunities, the world needs new breakthrough technology,  digital and IT platforms that solve our greatest challenges, smart regulation, forward-looking policies and innovative financing tools. If the right conditions are met, this new blueprint for business can reach its full potential.

What does all this mean for employees at HPE?  In my opinion, you are extremely fortunate. You are working for a business that has a huge opportunity to make a real difference to so many of what seem to be most intractable problems in our world.  Solving education inequities and expanding new healthcare solutions, driving decent work and enabling entrepreneurship, driving waste reduction and energy transitions, rebuilding our land health and preserving our biomass, enabling more efficient mobility and materials efficiency,

I can envision a key role for HPE in delivering every one of the SDGs.

Your Living Progress vision of uniting people, ideas, and technology to solve the world’s toughest challenges certainly gives you the call to deliver against the SDGs. It would be remarkable to see what HPE could contribute to help make the SDG vision a reality.

Companies can operationalise the Goals in many ways. Business and Sustainable Development Commissioners are asking their businesses to build the SDGs into their corporate strategies to innovate and invest in these new growth opportunities.  At Ericsson, for example, each executive leader is assigned one SDG to champion, to ensure the Goals remain a priority on the company’s agenda.  Safaricom (a leading mobile services provider in Africa) has used the SDGs to drive significant new business development via financial service inclusion and energy access. Unilever is using its Brands and its Supply Chain to deliver significant contributions to the SDGs.

And, while Edelman’s Trust Barometer shows CEO credibility is sharply down, it also reveals 75% of respondents agree that “a company can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in the community where it operates.” They can do so in ways that align with recommendations and actions outlined in Better Business, Better World: rebuilding trust by creating decent jobs, rewarding workers fairly, investing in the local community and paying a fair share of taxes.

The Business Commission’s ambition for the coming year is to catalyse an increasing number of enlightened C-suite leaders, entrepreneurs and investors who are convinced that sustainable development belongs at the heart of their strategies. Business leaders can participate in our breakthrough initiatives and access support from the Commission to develop your own SDG agenda.

We invite you to join a growing community of business leaders who want to align their companies’ strategies with the Global Goals. Visit to learn more.

Want to hear more from Gail Klintworth? Listen to our HPE Gives Podcast, in which Gail speaks passionately about how business can unlock opportunities that improve both our bottom line and the world.

Gail+Klintworth.pngGail Klintworth is the Business Transformation Director at the Business & Sustainable Development Commission. The Commission aims to make a powerful business case for achieving a sustainable, inclusive economy.

Before joining the Commission, Gail worked for Old Mutual, where she helped build its Positive Futures Plan, encouraging inclusive growth and responsible investment. Gail held the role of Chief Sustainability Officer at Unilever, positioning the group as a pioneer in corporate, social and environmental stewardship. 


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