It seems superfluous to mention that companies shall and must work with the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals. Sustainable development goals require the whole world to stand together and unless such leading actors as companies contribute, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for the rest of the world to progress very far.
Each and every one of the 17 UN sustainable development goals are essential for sustaining quality of life, albeit with varying priorities in different parts of the world, and we want to help with all these goals to the best of our ability. In fact, few companies would dare to proclaim that they do not prioritise some of the goals. Indeed, it seems cynical beyond measure to say that you will not sacrifice resources for clean water, the climate or to eradicate poverty.
However, I believe that sustainable development goals become diluted if you spread your focus across all the goals rather than focusing intensively on selected sustainable development goals. We should dare to say aloud that we opt out of some of them, as this also means that we opt into other sustainable development goals. If we focus our efforts on those sustainable development goals that we each of us do best then, I believe, we can eventually address all the goals. In step with current popular parlance, you can say that we by opting out demonstrate community spirit.
Does this mean that we demonstrate the most community spirit by navel-gazing, oblivious to the world around us? Not at all! I contend that one does not exclude the other. The point is just that we as companies are in a unique position, where we should see ourselves in two roles – as a company and as a part of something bigger. In relation to the sustainable development goals this can mean that we shall partly focus on the company’s selected goals (and let others focus on the rest). And partly come together in a common focused effort.
If we view Aalborg as the sum of businesses, citizens, the municipality, organisations and other actors, I see one thing that few in the world do better than us: As inhabitants of Aalborg, we have shown throughout history by our deeds and words that we stand together. We get nothing for free here in the north (apart from the present sympathy from the rest of Denmark regarding the partial lockdown). When something must be done in Aalborg, we act in unity and this has led to many incredible results: from our world-famous waterfront, Aalborg Alliance, major cultural events and the latest new shoot on the stem, Green Hub Denmark. Just to name a few.
And we continue undaunted. At the time of writing this, numerous innovative development projects are underway across companies, the municipality, organisations, educational institutions and other actors. Projects involving resources, knowledge and competencies from a vast array of different industries. Projects that know how to exploit and commercialise Aalborg’s strengths, such as green transition, for which Aalborg is an internationally recognised pioneer. Indeed, Aalborg has, as a result of previous years’ pursuit of Aalborg’s DNA, conceptualised the whole mindset in the slogan “We grow together”.
The sum of Aalborg actors is in my view quite simple: UN sustainable development goals 17: partnerships for action! That is what we can do in Aalborg. That is what leads to all our fantastic results, which benefit our wider world. That is what we should aim towards, with a targeted rather than a scattergun approach.
We cannot change the world alone, but together we can move mountains. I therefore urge everyone to raise your eyes and embrace new inputs and cooperate across interests, competencies and industries. For the sake of Aalborg, the individual companies and the citizens.