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G7 Summit targets the Sustainable Development Goals

The G7 Summit is a meeting of world leaders from the seven largest advanced economies: USA, UK, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and France. It usually occurs on an annual basis with this year's Summit taking place in Cornwall, UK. 

The purpose of the summit is to discuss the most pressing global issues at the highest level view. We have highlighted the top 6 commitments that have been made which we believe will contribute towards a successful, sustainable future. Alongside this we have suggested ways in which your business can support the actions to bring your business sustainability.

Action 1: Addressing pandemics and global health.
Supporting the 3 SDGs for good health, sustainable economic growth and sustainable development.
Goals 3, 8 and 9.

One of the key talking points at this year’s G7 Summit was regarding global health and the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Although a large emphasis was placed on recovery - committing to mass distribution of vaccines to everyone everywhere - an equally important talking point was the preparation and prevention of future threats to global health.

COVID-19 was insurmountably disruptive to people and businesses globally, however had we had measures put in place to effectively respond to a threat of this kind, we may have avoided disruption of this magnitude. It is not only Governments who can prepare for the future. Businesses of all kinds can plan more sustainably to improve their resilience and independence of adverse externalities. For example, good governance over finances involves holding capital reserves that will allow you to weather another storm, enabling you to start your recovery from solid foundations and hold onto your valuable assets, be it property, employees and community.

The Business Impact Tracker following over 600 UK firms found that 62% of businesses had less than 3 months cash reserves and 18% had less than a month in reserve. Considering how disruptive COVID has been, it's easy to imagine the damage to businesses with minimal cash reserves. Further, remote working and employee wellbeing are largely neglected considerations which present unique opportunities to your team and the holistic performance of your business. It provides both adaptability and resilience as a business.

Action 2: Addressing growth of the global economy.
Supporting the 3 SDGs for sustainable economic growth, innovation and infrastructure and reduced inequalities.
Goals 8, 9 and 10.

It is essential to look past this pandemic if we strive to return to normality. At the G7 Summit, this is exactly what they have done, with global leaders promising to shift the economic focus away from crisis aversion towards reinvigorating the economy and promoting sustainable growth. Job creation and innovation will lead the global economy towards higher heights, promising to be inclusive of all, irrespective of age, race and gender. 

In the past, we’ve seen recoveries leaving behind parts of society, negatively impacting everyone in the long term. For example, February to April 2021, the UK unemployment rate was estimated at 4.7% compared to 13.2% amongst young adults (16-24). Through innovative and collaborative progress, we can focus on a recovery that presents an equal opportunity to all. By ensuring the governance of your business is aligned with that of global leaders, you can help make a positive impact on your community and business.

Putting in place objective and stringent recruitment processes will ensure you remain compliant going forward in addition to allowing you to build a diverse team, resulting in resilience, perspective and effective teamwork. 

Action 3: Addressing global cooperation.
Supporting the 4 SDGs for sustainable economic growth, sustainable living, strong institutional systems and global sustainable partnerships.
Goals 8, 11, 16, 17.

Another one of the most important talking points was regarding international collaboration on trade, tax and prominent future industries

In various attempts to woo big corporations and money-laundering individuals into a nation's tax residency, we’ve seen countless tax breaks, reliefs and cuts in a race to the bottom, ultimately benefiting those who need it the least at the cost of already-strained Government budgets and their citizens. This has led to the largest wealth divide in recorded history. The goal is to make a stateless basic multinational corporations tax of 15%, targeting $6 trillion of offshore profits and up to $240 billion of unpaid taxes.

Global trade is mutually beneficial to all involved and working together to make a fairer, reformed trading system is going to support the global economy and advantage many businesses. When we look ahead at the future frontiers of the global economy, we see immensely exciting prospects. Artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, sustainable solutions and the aerospace industry to name a few. 

It is not an understatement to say that the future of this planet heavily hinges upon innovation and technological advancement. By working together in these highly important fields, we can quickly reach a better quality of life that - through international cooperation - will benefit everyone and not only the few.

Is your entire supply chain sustainable? Through these G7 commitments, we are going to see a fairer trade reform which could pose a risk to your supply chain if it isn't already sustainable and fair. By making this transition now ahead of Government intervention you could mitigate a huge part of the risk to your business through its supply chain and could even benefit from re-assessing your supply chain.

Action 4: Addressing a green revolution.
Supporting the 6 SDGs for clean energy, innovation and infrastructure, sustainable living, climate action and life above and below water.
Goals 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15.

One of the hot topics of discussion regarding the future of this planet was a green revolution: the creation of jobs, cutting of emissions and limiting global warming in line with the Paris Agreement. Sustainability is so much more than a solution; it is an opportunity. A chance to transition into a global model that takes into account more than the bottom line, there is value in the wellbeing and happiness of all lives and the planet. Global leaders stressed the importance of making this transition as soon as possible. 

Your business could be at risk if your emissions, environmental impact or business activities don't respect sustainable goals and this impending transition could force your business to change at a personal cost to you. The UN Environment Programme estimates that the global cost of adapting to these climate impacts is expected to grow to $140-300 billion per year by 2030 and $280-500 billion per year by 2050. 

However, by making this transition on your own terms in a way that takes advantage of this green opportunity, you could be part of those that directly benefit. Not only will you mitigate these risks, you can front run the opportunity to improve your reputation and financial gain.

Action 5: Addressing strengthening partnerships.
Supporting SDGs for innovation and infrastructure, reducing inequalities and global sustainable partnerships.
Goals 9, 10, 17.

Strengthening new and existing partnerships whilst championing inclusivity was a clear message put out by the global leaders. The G7 leaders have committed $80 billion in investments into Africa's private sector in the next 5 years with a focus on renewable power and innovation. This will present many novel business opportunities for sustainable businesses within the UK and around the world.

Through investments in infrastructure and clean and green initiatives such as with Africa, the Summit put a high priority on unanimous, ubiquitous collaboration worldwide. There is no doubt that working sustainably in the interest of everyone is mutually beneficial to all involved.

In business, this is going to present many novel business opportunities. Being a sustainable business is going to magnify your opportunities and fast track you to working on international projects and working with international suppliers leading to a more sustainable supply chain. This is more rewarding for everyone in the value chain and will likely be less costly and more profitable to your business.

Action 6: Addressing our true values.
Supports SDGs for gender equality, reduced inequalities and strong institutional systems.
Goals 5, 10, 16.

Last but not least, the Summit leaders illustrated the necessity in embracing our shared values such as democracy, equality, respect for human rights and freedom. This is already paramount to businesses everywhere, however in conjunction with the underlying Summit themes of inclusivity and global cooperation, this commitment has significant implications for supply chains of every business. 

Until now, suppliers have largely contributed the most adversely to businesses’ comprehensive performance through poor environmental and governance impacts. By instilling these values into each business’ holistic value chain, we can begin to address these long neglected issues of gender inequality, forced labour and lack of basic human rights globally. If you are uninformed of your supply chain’s holistic performance, this brings a high level of risk to your business.

As you can see from our highlights it was an action packed summit. Governmental and business leaders have a lot to do to get society and our planet back on to a sustainable platform. 

Written by:
Sarah Whale, FCCA
Sarah is the founder of Profit Impact, which guides businesses to measure and grwo long-term positive social, environmental and financial impacts. Sarah has over 20 years experience as a senior financial professional as well as a qualified in Cambridge Institute Sustainability Leadership and B Corp Leader.