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PRME Week at LBS – Using dialogue to build partnerships for sustainability

On the 24th and 25th of October, La Trobe Business School hosted a successful seventh CR3+ Conference. The theme this year was “Using dialogue to build partnerships for sustainability” and explored how partnerships can bring about sustainable solutions as we work together on progressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More than 60 people from more than 15 countries attended the conference. This blog summarises some of its highlights.

Prof Suzanne Young opening the CR3+ conference

Day 1

Prof Dennis McDermott, La Trobe University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous), was the first keynote speaker of the conference. Dennis talked about authenticity, partnership and change, and how indigenous knowledge can assist partnership building for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The second keynote was delivered by Jillian Reid from Mercer. Jillian discussed the climate scenario analysis Mercer has developed, investing for positive impact and how the SDGs are used as a framework for responsible investment.

The panel discussion on the first day focused on multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainability where we learned that partnerships are complex and that dialogue, trust, respect and being open minded are critical to advancing the partners’ individual objectives, and those of the partnership.

panel discussion focused on multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainability

The day was wrapped up at Charcoal Lane – a Mission Australia social enterprise restaurant that provides guidance and opportunity to young Aboriginal people in need of a fresh start in life. The Executive Chef of Charcoal Lane, Greg Hampton, gave an insightful talk about the social development aspect of the restaurant, but also their menu and the origin of the food they use.

Day 2

The second day of the CR3+ Conference was off to a good start with a keynote from Dr Leeora Black from Deloitte (and also LBS advisory board member) discussing the social aspects of sustainability, corporate social responsibility and particularly Australia’s Modern Slavery Act.

keynote from Dr Leeora Black from Deloitte

Later in the morning it was time to get creative with Lego SeriousPlay©. Dr Heather Stewart and Dr Rob Hales from Griffith University provided a workshop using Lego that focused on building relationships and collaboration with the aim of exploring the embedding of sustainable development goals in learning and teaching within business schools.

The last speaker on the second day was Dr Raghu Raman from Amrita University. Raghu introduced the university’s Live-in-Labs® – a program that breaks classroom and lab barriers by applying learned theory in real-world settings. It uses principles of lean research for the development and deployment of sustainable solutions for current challenges faced by rural communities in India.

After the conference

The day after the conference, the Australia New Zealand PRME Chapter meeting took place on the theme ‘Students as Partners’. The day was about sharing stories and learning from students about how universities can partner with them more effectively to co-create curriculum and extracurricular activities that advance knowledge about the SDGs. Eleven students from across Australia and New Zealand were in attendance and had the opportunity to ask academics what they are doing to advance Sustainable Development across the region.

Australia New Zealand PRME chapter meeting
Australia New Zealand PRME chapter meeting

Besides the Australia New Zealand PRME Chapter meeting, there was also a PRME Champions group meeting with representatives of 40 business schools from all continents. The meeting was co-hosted by La Trobe Business School and Deakin Business School.  This was the fourth and final meeting of the 2018-2019 Champions cycle, with a key outcome of the meetings being the development of a Blueprint for SDG integration across Business Schools in the areas of teaching, research and partnerships.  Once completed, the blueprint will be available to the 700+ Business School signatories worldwide.

PRME Champions group meeting

The week of PRME-related activities hosted by LBS demonstrate our continued commitment to be a Business School with purpose. This was showcased through the week’s focus on partnerships for sustainable development, highlighting the role of indigenous values and ‘ways of knowing’ in our approach to partnerships, and the wider academic community’s recognition of the student voice in our thinking about sustainability. Furthermore, through our international partnerships with the CR3+ network, PRME and the Champions Group, our staff and students had the opportunity to engage with a global network of academics who research and teach in sustainability, partnerships and CSR.

If you have any questions about the Business School’s involvement with the UN PRME or any of the events discussed in this blog, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is the last blog in the SDG Series, a series that focused on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference.

More blogs in the SDG Series:

- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 5
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 6
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 7
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 8
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 9
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 10
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 11
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 12
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 13
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 14
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 15
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 16
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 17

SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 16

SDG 16 - Piece, justice and strong institutions

We cannot hope for sustainable development without peace, stability, human rights and effective governance, based on the rule of law. Yet, our world is increasingly divided. Some regions enjoy peace, security and prosperity, while others fall into seemingly endless cycles of conflict and violence. This is not inevitable and must be addressed (UNDP, 2019).

The facts

While homicide and trafficking cases have seen significant progress over the past decade, there are still thousands of people at greater risk of intentional murder within Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and around Asia. Children’s rights violations through aggression and sexual violence continue to plague many countries around the world, especially as under-reporting and lack of data aggravate the problem.

Some more facts by the United Nations Development Programme regarding SDG 16 (UNDP, 2019):

  • By the end of 2017, 68.5 million people had been forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations.
  • There are at least 10 million stateless people who have been denied nationality and its related rights.
  • Corruption, bribery, theft and tax evasion cost developing countries US$1.26 trillion per year.
  • 49 countries lack laws protecting women from domestic violence.
  • In 46 countries, women now hold more than 30 percent of seats in at least one chamber of national parliament.
  • 1 billion people are legally ‘invisible’ because they cannot prove who they are. This includes an estimated 625 million children under 14 whose births were never registered. 

The focus of SDG 16

Sustainable development goal sixteen (SDG 16) aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. There are ten targets set for this goal, including: reducing all forms of violence and related death rate; ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children; ensuring equal access to justice for all; providing legal identity for all, including birth registration; reducing corruption and bribery in all their forms and developing effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels.

Ultimately, to tackle the challenges listed earlier in the article, and to build more peaceful, inclusive societies, there needs to be more efficient and transparent regulations put in place and comprehensive, realistic government budgets. One of the first steps towards protecting individual rights is the implementation of worldwide birth registration and the creation of more independent national human rights institutions around the world (UN SDGs, 2019).

SDG 16 Progress in Australia

Australia is a relatively peaceful country, ranking 15 out of 163 in the Global Peace Index. Australia also ranks highly in the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index at 13 out of 176 (although our score has dropped since 2012). Australia was a strong advocate for the inclusion of a separate goal on governance and law and justice throughout negotiations of the 2030 Agenda. SDG 16 lies at the heart of Australian values and commitment to political, economic and religious freedoms; liberal democracy; the rule of law; and good governance, transparency and accountability (Voluntary National Review on the SDGs, 2018).

That said, there remain a range of areas for improvement in this space, including for example Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights, domestic violence, and bribery and corruption (UNGCNA, 2018).  Violence, while declining, is still a major issue in Australia, following distinct gender and age-based trends. While from 2012 to 2016 the proportion of people experiencing violence declined (with men reporting a steeper decline), the proportion of men and women experiencing sexual violence/harassment increased to almost 18% of females and less than 10% of men (Transforming Australia, 2018).

Further, Australia’s prison population is at its highest recorded level, with indigenous people representing over 28% of the prison population and the female prison population increasing by 77% over the last decade. Household crime statistics indicate that the highest levels of incarceration are in Western Australia and the Northern Territory, suggesting that rising numbers may be linked to social exclusion, limited access to justice and rehabilitation (Transforming Australia, 2018).

Tackling safety and Gender-based violence at La Trobe

Student safety is a key priority for the La Trobe Business School, especially considering the findings of the 2017 report by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) into the nature, prevalence and reporting of sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities. The Universities Australia ‘Respect Now Always’ initiative has become a focus of the whole of university culture at La Trobe University, and we have acted swiftly on the recommendations from the report implementing a significant number of measures including the Speak- Up and Respect at La Trobe programs to enable a whole of organisation culture change to halt behaviour towards students that includes intimidation, harassment, discrimination, bullying and all forms of violence (LBS PRME Report, 2018).

The university also established the La Trobe Violence Against Women research Network (LAVAWN). The aim of LAVAWN is conducting research that creates a world where everyone can live free from violence.  Members of the network include researchers and higher degree students across the university from different schools and disciplines including Law, Sociology, Rural Health, Public Health, Planning, Sexual Health, Social Work.

SDG Video

The video below is created by our CR3+ partner Hanken School of Economics (Finland). In the video, Associate Professor Martin Fougere discusses the targets set for SDG 16. He particularly focuses on targets:

  • 16.4 – Combat organised crime and illicit financial and arms flows
  • 16.5 – Substantially reduce corruption and bribery
  • 16.6 – Develop effective accountable and transparent institutions

Martin talks about corruption and the Financial Secrecy Index and why we need to reframe the question of “why is your country corrupt?” to “what are the drivers and enablers of corruption?” to address the issue of corruption. He also discusses the problem of tax avoidance, particularly the problem of multinational tax avoidance and the need for greater accountability and transparency, not just in the public sector but also the private sector and civil society organisations.

The second part of the video shows an interview with Lyydia Kilpi. Lyydia is policy advisor for tax justice and corporate accountability at KEPA – the Finnish Service Centre for Development Cooperation. KEPA is the umbrella organisation for Finnish civil society organisations (CSOs) who work with development cooperation or are otherwise interested in global affairs. Lyydia talks about the importance of tax and tax avoidance issues in relation to piece, justice and strong institutions. She also discusses how tax issues can be addressed through SDG 16 and its targets, and what the benefits would be of an institutionalised tax country-by-country corporate reporting.

Please enjoy the presentation.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019.


More blogs in the SDG Series:
- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 5
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 6
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 7
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 8
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 9
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 10
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 11
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 12
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 13
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 14
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 15

SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 15

SDG 15 - Life on Land

Preserving diverse forms of life on land requires targeted efforts to protect, restore and promote the conservation and sustainable use of terrestrial and other ecosystems. Sustainable development goal fifteen (SDG 15) focuses specifically on managing forests sustainably, halting and reversing land and natural habitat degradation, successfully combating desertification and stopping biodiversity loss (UN Statistics Report, 2019).

The facts

Forests cover 30% of the earth’s surface and are home to more than 80% of all terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. Forests provide vital habitats for millions of species, and important sources for clean air and water, as well as being crucial for combating climate change. Also humans depend on forests for their livelihoods – an approximate 1.6 billion people (UNDP, 2019).

Furthermore, the United Nations Development Programme (2019) lists that:

  • Mountain regions provide 60-80% of the earth’s fresh water
  • Plant life provides 80% of the human diet
  • Humans rely on agriculture as an important economic resource, with 2.6 billion people depending directly on agriculture for a living.
  • The value of ecosystems to human livelihoods and well-being is US$125 trillion per year.
  • Nature-based climate solutions can contribute about a third of CO2 reductions by 2030.

Australia’s progress on SDG 15

“The main pressures affecting the Australian environment today are the same as in 2011, climate change, land-use change, habitat fragmentation and degradation and invasive species.”

State of the Environment Report (2016)

In Australia’s Voluntary National Review into the implementation of the SDGs, the government recognises the links between biodiversity, economic activity, and health and wellbeing.  This requires a multiple-stakeholder approach to addressing SDG 15, including businesses, environmental non-government organisations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, community groups and individuals. In other words, everyone has an interest in maintaining the health and productivity of the land, but particularly those who derive their income and employment from it or have a cultural connection. However, the most recent State of the Environment Report (2016) found that Australia’s biodiversity is under increased threat and has, overall, continued to decline. More than 1,700 species and ecological communities are known to be threatened and at risk of extinction.

In terms of deforestation, some complexity exists in measuring overall forest area owing both to definitions and technical improvements in methods. Nonetheless, the consensus is that forest area is in decline and this trend is expected to continue in the absence of regulatory change. By one international measure, Australia now ranks among the top nations for deforestation (Transforming Australia Report, 2018). Notwithstanding the deterioration in biodiversity and increased deforestation, there are a number of initiatives under way that aim to address these, including The National Landcare Program, The Australian Business and Biodiversity Initiative, The Responsible Wood Certification Scheme, Digital Earth Australia and legislation including the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Agribusiness at La Trobe

The agricultural sector is one of Victoria’s biggest export earners and has been identified as one of the most promising sectors for Australia’s regional economy. Hence, there is strong demand for industry professionals who have skills in areas such as agribusiness and rural banking, export business and government agencies.

La Trobe Business School launched the Bachelor of Business (Agribusiness) in 2017 and is taught at all Regional Victorian La Trobe University campuses including Bendigo, Shepparton, Albury-Wodonga and Mildura. During the degree, students do not only develop skills in financing, marketing and managing agricultural businesses, but also, in line with SDG 15, focuses on creating responsible, engaged and innovative graduates equipped to help farmers improve their food production sustainably and reduce the impact on declining resources (learn more about the degree here).

SDG Video

The video on SDG 15 is produced by our CR3+ Partner Audencia Business School from Nantes, France.  In the video, Dr Céline Louche discusses the sustainable development goal in depth, explains what terrestrial ecosystems are and what the role of businesses is regarding SDG 15. In the second part of the video, Céline interviews Rémi-Pierre Lapprend – CSR Manager at Maisons du Monde a French furniture and home decor company. The company sees SDG 15 as a framework that provides objectives and a vision regarding sustainable sourcing of wood – the most important natural resource the company uses. Through certification such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest (PECF), traceability programs set with Non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) and working with experts on deforestation and biodiversity for the Maisons du Monde Foundation, the company ensures that wood that is used does not contribute to deforestation.

Please enjoy the presentation.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019.

More blogs in the SDG Series:
- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 5
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 6
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 7
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 8
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 9
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 10
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 11
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 12
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 13
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 14

SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 14

Australia’s challenge in the next decades is to realise the potential economic benefits of the marine estate while maintaining social and environmental values… Oceans are inextricably linked to some of the most pressing challenges facing society, both in Australia and globally, in the next decades: maritime sovereignty and security, energy security, food security, biodiversity conservation and ecosystem health, climate variability and change and the policy challenge of equitable resource allocation.

Oceans Policy Science Advisory Group (2013, report: Marine Nation 2025)

The facts

The ocean covers three quarters of the earth’s surface and represents 99% of the living space on the planet by volume. In addition, the ocean contains nearly 200,000 identified species, but actual numbers may lie in the millions. Some facts pointing out the importance of the ocean to us:

  • It absorbs about 30% of carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming.
  • The market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is estimated at US$3 trillion per year, about 5% of global GDP.
  • More than 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods.

Unfortunately, as much as 40% of the ocean is heavily affected by pollution, depleted fisheries, loss of coastal habitats and other human activities, which means that increased efforts and interventions are needed to conserve and sustainably use ocean resources at all levels (UNDP, 2019).

The focus of SDG 14

The aim of sustainable development goal fourteen (SDG 14) is to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.  SDG 14 targets are aimed at reducing all marine pollution by 2025 and to conserve marine and coastal ecosystems by 2020. Management plans will be implemented to prevent over-fishing, illegal fishing, and to rehabilitate marine life. Consequently, the aim is to conserve at least 10% of all marine areas by 2020 (SDG Knowledge Platform 2019).

How is SDG 14 relevant to business and what can business do?

The world’s oceans play an essential part in human survival – without water, life is impossible. Apart from providing us with drinking water, food, and rain, our oceans also serve as a platform for water transportation and trade.

As mentioned above, the ocean helps lessen the effects of global warming by absorbing about 30% of carbon dioxide, it creates employment by being the biggest source of protein on the planet and has a market value of an estimated US$3 trillion annually (about 5% of global GDP). Beyond fishing and aquaculture, oceans and coastal areas support tourism and many other industries. For millions of people in developing countries, the oceans and seas are their salvation. These benefits to livelihood must be balanced with environmental considerations (UN Global Compact, 2019).

According the United Nations’ Global Compact Network Australia, companies:

  • Should review the use of plastics throughout their operations – from how plastic is used through the value chain and in their products (e.g. excessive packaging). Inaction on use of plastics contributes significantly to ocean degradation. 
  • Those involved in the sale of seafood, should ensure it comes from sustainable sources and have a role to play in community education.
  • Businesses that use the services of cargo ships within their value chain also should investigate the environmental credentials of the vessels being used and consider this in procurement decisions.

More broadly, any steps to mitigate climate change will help oceans as well as the global environment.

Interaction of SDG 14 with the other SDGs

A recent Guide to SDG Interactions: From Science to Implementation published by the International Council for Science (ICSU, 2017) highlights that all SDGs interact with one another.  By design, they are an integrated set of global priorities and objectives that are fundamentally interdependent. The report further finds that SDG 14 is one of the SDGs that is most synergistic with others, both positively and negatively. Understanding these interactions is seen as important to ensure that that target is achieved whilst also ensuring that progress made in some areas is not made at the expense of progress in others. Examples of these interactions include:

SDG 14 is a critical enabler of poverty alleviation, and environmentally sustainable economic growth and social well-being (‘blue growth’), particularly in small island developing states (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs).

Oceans and seas are major sources of water in the hydrological cycle and therefore require sustainable management through integrated water management that addresses the multiplicity and diversity of water actors.

Increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix and improving energy efficiency, reliability and affordability will enhance sustainability and help reduce ocean acidification through reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

Responsible consumption and production, such as sustainable management of natural resources or the reduction of wastes, are critical for ending overfishing, sustainably managing marine and coastal ecosystems and reducing marine pollution.

SDG Video

The video below is created by our CR3+ partner Hanken School of Economics (Finland). In the first part of the video Dr Nikodemus Solitander discusses the targets set for SDG 14 and focuses particularly on reducing marine pollution (target 4.1) and sustainable fishing (target 4.4). These targets are further explained by Amanda Sundell, founder of the organisation DROPP – a social enterprise that donates all of its profits to help protect the Baltic Sea. Amanda talks about how DROPP came about, its two products which are spring water and lightweight reusable water bottles, their partnership with the Baltic Sea Action Group and universities, and their system of donating 100% of their profit to support the environmental rehabilitation of the Baltic Sea.

Please enjoy the presentation.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019.


More blogs in the SDG Series:
- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 5
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 6
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 7
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 8
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 9
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 10
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 11
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 12
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 13

SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 13

SDG 13 - Climate action

Affordable, scalable solutions are now available to enable countries to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies. The pace of change is quickening as more people are turning to renewable energy and a range of other measures that will reduce emissions and increase adaptation efforts. Climate change, however, is a global challenge that does not respect national borders. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow. It is an issue that requires solutions that need to be coordinated at the international level to help developing countries move toward a low-carbon economy.

The facts

Weather patterns are changing, sea levels are rising, weather events are becoming more extreme and greenhouse gas emissions are now at their highest levels in history. Without action, the world’s average surface temperature is likely to surpass 3 degrees centigrade this century, affecting the poorest and most vulnerable people the most. Some more facts regarding sustainable development goal thirteen (SDG 13):

  • Sea levels have risen by about 20 cm (8 inches) since 1880 and are projected to rise another 30–122 cm (1 to 4 feet) by 2100.
  • Climate pledges under The Paris Agreement cover only one third of the emissions reductions needed to keep the world below 2°C.
  • To limit warming to 1.5°C, global net CO2 emissions must drop by 45% between 2010 and 2030, and reach net zero around 2050.
  • Bold climate action could trigger at least US$26 trillion in economic benefits by 2030.
  • The energy sector alone will create around 18 million more jobs by 2030, focused specifically on sustainable energy (UNDP, 2019).

The focus of SDG 13

The aim of SDG 13 to mobilize US$100 billion annually by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries to both adapt to climate change and invest in low-carbon development. Supporting vulnerable regions will directly contribute not only to SDG 13 but also to the other SDGs (UNDP, 2019). Of the five SDG 13 targets, the first three cover strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity, integrating climate change actions into policies and strategies and raising awareness. The final two are development targets used to support developing countries in line with the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Australia’s performance on SDG 13

A 2018 article by The Conversation highlights that Australia is performing relatively well in areas such as health and wellbeing, and providing good-quality education. But its results for the environmental goals and climate change are among the worst in the OECD group of advanced nations. Read the article here.

What is La Trobe University doing?

It was recently announced that La Trobe University will be Victoria’s first major university to become carbon neutral by 2029 and our regional campuses are set to become carbon neutral by 2022. Find more information about this ambitious project here. Furthermore, in 2016, the University Council endorsed a plan to fully divest from fossil-fuel related company investments over five years and commit to greater transparency on the carbon footprint of companies held in its investment portfolio.

Across our teaching efforts, there are a range of subjects focused on climate change at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. From 2015 all students undertaking undergraduate programs at La Trobe University will complete at least one subject that has the ‘Sustainability Thinking’ Learning Essential embedded in it. Sustainability Thinking is the capacity to engage effectively with social, environmental and economic change and challenges in the contemporary world. These include, for example, climate change, food and water security and human and labour rights.

Upcoming LTU event

The Ideas and Society Program at La Trobe University, convened by Professor Robert Manne, is a forum for discussion about the future of Australia and beyond. In September the program is hosting a debate on: Climate Change and Australia: Where to Now? Please follow the link to find out more and to register: https://www.latrobe.edu.au/events/all/climate-change-and-australia-where-to-now.

SDG Video

The video on SDG 13 is produced by our CR3+ Partner Audencia Business School from Nantes, France.  In the video, Dr Céline Louche discusses the sustainable development goal in depth, including some more facts and figures on climatic events and global warming. She also discusses the role businesses play when it comes to climate action and provides examples. Actions companies can take are attempting to decarbonise their operations and supply chain by improving energy efficiency; reducing the carbon footprint of their products and services; setting ambitious emissions reduction targets; and investing in innovative low carbon products and services. The second part of the video shows Dr Jennifer Goodman, also from Audencia Business School, and Hugues Chenet, research associate at the University College of London and Chair on Energy and Prosperity in Paris. Hugues is also co-founder of the 2 Degrees Investing Initiative. Jennifer interviews Hugues about his co-founded initiative and about what finance can do for SDG 13.

Please enjoy the presentation.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019.


More blogs in the SDG Series:
- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 5
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 6
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 7
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 8
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 9
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 10
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 11
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 12

SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 11

SDG 11 - sustainable cities and communities

Sustainable development goal eleven (SDG 11) is about sustainable cities and communities, which includes making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

The facts

Did you know that:

  • Half of humanity – 3.5 billion people – lives in cities today and by 2030, it is estimated that six out of 10 people will be city dwellers.
  • The world’s cities occupy just 3% of the planet’s land but account for 60-80% of all energy consumption and 75% of the planet’s carbon emissions.
  • Close to 95% of urban expansion in the coming decades will take place in the developing world.
  • Rapid urbanisation is exerting pressure on fresh water supplies, sewage, the living environment and public health.
  • Our rapidly growing urban world is experiencing congestion, a lack of basic services, a shortage of adequate housing, and declining infrastructure.
  • Thirty percent of the world’s urban population lives in slums, and in Sub-Saharan Africa, over half of all city dwellers are slum dwellers.

The focus of SDG 11

Today, cities are well recognised as centres of innovation, investment, and play a priority role in driving industrialisation and economic growth in both developed and developing countries alike. Urbanisation plays a critical role in facilitating and ensuring that rural/urban connections that support a balanced territorial development are in place. Cities are therefore well positioned to take the lead in addressing many of the persistent global challenges including pollution, climate change, resilience and environmental degradation, road safety, urban mobility, traffic management, poverty, inequality, unemployment, crimes and security, etc. Cities are also key to finding solutions for new and emerging challenges, which the world is facing, from stemming the rise of plastic waste in our oceans to the introduction of new technologies as part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (UN Habitat, 2019).

SDG 11 targets relate to eliminating slum-like conditions, providing accessible and affordable transport systems, reducing urban sprawl, increasing participation in urban governance, enhancing cultural and heritage preservation, addressing urban resilience and climate change challenges, better management of urban environments (pollution and waste management), providing access to safe and secure public spaces for all, and improving urban management through better urban policies and regulations (SDG Knowledge Platform, 2019).

Technology and SDG 11

A key trend in sustainable cities is the massive rise in technology, specifically the Internet of Things (IoT), expecting to connect everything in a city – from the electricity grid to the sewer pipes to roads, buildings and vehicles.

Smart cities

Governments and researchers since the 1990s have been using the term ‘Smart Cities’ because it could help certain cities to distinguish and promote themselves as innovative. A smart city is an urban area that uses different types of electronic data collection sensors to supply information which is used to manage assets and resources efficiently.

Examples of Smart City initiatives include the city of Barcelona, where a new bus network based on data analysis of the most common traffic flows in Barcelona and the integration of multiple smart city technologies allows buses to run on routes with the most green lights.  In Stockholm, the Green IT program seeks to reduce environmental impact through IT functions such as energy efficient buildings (minimising heating costs), traffic monitoring (minimising the time spent on the road) and development of e-services (minimising paper usage). An alternative use of smart city technology can be found in Santa Cruz, California, where local authorities analyse historical crime data in order to predict police requirements and maximise police presence where it is required (World Economic Forum, 2018).

It is important to remember that the challenge of sustainable cities is not simply about developing new technological solutions to long-standing problems. Rather, success in this sphere will be achieved only by balancing the demands of social and economic development with careful environmental management and innovative urban governance.

Systems approach

Thinking about the other 16 SDGs, it is clear that SDG 11 has the potential for inter-linkages and taking a real systems approach. For example, natural disasters and other climate impacts are endogenous to development – they are not a separate issue to be considered independently (i.e. SDG 11 and 13).  Effective, inclusive development in cities will need to consider the needs of people with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups (i.e. SDG 11 and 10). Indeed, it is important to take a systems approach to the implementation of SDG 11, and the other SDGS, which suggests that sustainability can only be achieved by first recognising and then balancing the trade-offs among the various goals across environmental, economic and social systems.

Smart education

Smart cities and technological interconnectedness also impact education, recognising the need for education programs producing graduates with modern knowledge, practical skills and collaborative attitudes. LBS is at the forefront of this so-called “smart education”. LBS is a Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) Champion, which means our students are taught to become responsible leaders who are informed and capable of balancing the demands of business with economic, social and environmental sustainability, undertaking innovative projects that respond to future systemic challenges (read more about our PRME commitments here). In addition, LBS developed new degrees such as the Bachelor of Business Analytics and the Bachelor of Digital Business to provide students with the skills necessary to work and live in a smart (city) environment.

SDG Video

The video on SDG 11 is produced by LBS and shows Dr Swati Nagpal and Paul Strickland. Swati firstly discusses the importance of cities – they make us more productive and creative and are the key social and organising units of our time – and talks about the SDG 11 targets, the stakeholders involved, and the concept of smart cities. Paul focuses on the Kingdom of Bhutan and their experience and dealing with rapid growing urbanisation, the country’s pioneering role in the development of the Gross National Happiness Indicator – measuring the collective happiness and wellbeing of the population – and the country’s 2020 vision around waste management, greening the construction industry, and conservation.

Please enjoy the presentation.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019.

More blogs in the SDG Series:

- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 5
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 6
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 7
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 8
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 9
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 10

SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 10

SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities

The 2030 Agenda calls for a “just, equitable, tolerant, open and socially inclusive world in which the needs of the most vulnerable are met” (SDG Knowledge Platform, 2016). This call comes at a time when, despite important gains made since 2000 in lifting people out of poverty, inequalities and large disparities remain in income and wealth, and in access to food, healthcare, education, land, clean water and other assets and resources essential for living a full and dignified life.  

The facts

Economic inequality is largely driven by the unequal ownership of capital. Since 1980, very large transfers of public to private wealth occurred in nearly all countries. The global wealth share of the top 1 percent was 33 percent in 2016. In addition, in 1980 the top 1 percent had 16 percent of global income, while the bottom 50 percent had 8 percent of income. In 2016, 22 percent of global income was received by the top 1 percent compared with 10 percent of income for the bottom 50 percent.

There is also inequality between the different genders. Women spend, on average, twice as much time on unpaid housework as men. Also, women have as much access to financial services as men in just 60 percent of the countries assessed and to land ownership in just 42 percent of the countries assessed (UNDP, 2019).

The focus of SDG 10

Some groups including those in rural areas (e.g. family farmers), women, young people, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples and others have persistently clustered at the bottom of distributions. Real wage growth has constantly declined since 2015 and at the same time, a warming climate, demographic change, decent work deficits, political crises, technological change and conflict risk exacerbating inequalities if actions are not taken toward equality in both opportunities and outcomes. Such inequalities can become self-perpetuating across generations, thus hindering progress towards one of the central objectives of the 2030 Agenda – that of ‘leaving no one behind’. Understanding that development is not sustainable if people are excluded from opportunities, services, and the chance for a better life; sustainable development goal ten (SDG 10) calls on the international community to “reduce inequality within and among countries”.

The 10 targets within SDG 10 cast a wide net to capture multiple drivers of inequality and to ensure that no group or individual is left behind. Four targets address within country inequality across social, economic and political dimensions aiming to expand prosperity, inclusion, and social protection. Three targets aim to reduce inequality among countries with attention to cross-border flows of finance and people and the distribution of voice in global institutions. Three other targets focus on the means of implementation and put forward concrete steps for attaining greater equality by directing resource flows toward those most in need (World Bank, 2019).

SDG 10 progress in Australia

In Australia, the period from 2000 to 2015 was characterised by strong economic growth that led to a substantial rise in average incomes. However, income increases did not lead to a reduction in income and wealth inequalities, with the Gini index – a common measure of inequality – remaining reasonably constant over this period. Using the Gini index, wealth inequality (0.6) is shown to be significantly higher than income inequality (0.3). Australia remains more unequal than most developed countries, limiting opportunities for many and undermining sustainable development.

Social exclusion fell prior to the global financial crisis, but has since increased. Unemployment benefits have fallen to be more than 20% below the poverty line. The gender pay gap has barely reduced in 20 years, and large gender inequalities remain at home, in the workplace and in society.

Since 2000, real disposable income per capita has grown by 29%, but there has been no increase over the last five years. As wages growth has slowed, many families struggle with rising energy and housing costs. There has been growth in employment and some fall in unemployment, but this has been offset partly by higher underemployment. Many Australians would like to work and earn more. For those workers with low skill levels, the opportunities to retrain throughout their working lives are limited, and home ownership is increasingly elusive for young people (Transforming Australia Report, 2018).

How is this relevant to business?

Addressing inequality makes good business sense because it increases economic participation and helps build markets and prosperity. Long term viability is only possible when the world is thriving, but the world cannot fully prosper when large population groups lack reasonable paths to success.  Diversity of background and experience within an organisation stimulates innovation and fresh thinking. It creates a more attractive work environment that in turn helps to attract and retain talent. Diversity can be thought of as a multi-faceted competitive advantage (GCNA Australia, 2018).

Equality and diversity are strategic business issues. It has been well demonstrated that businesses that embrace workplace diversity and inclusion are more innovative and outperform in organisational effectiveness and profitability. Corporate social responsibility is becoming a critical factor to a growing number of global investors and the capital markets.

Extract from joint letter from Australian business leaders in support of marriage equality to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (2017)

SDG Video

The video on SDG 10 is created by our CR3+ partner ISAE Brazilian Business School (ISAE). The video shows Rithyane Cardozo discussing SDG 10 and interviewing Marcia Ponce from the Caritas Institute and the work they do in Curitiba, Brazil. Caritas is an international organisation that fights issues of inequality. The interview is about how Caritas works towards SDG 10 by looking at economic inequality but also inequality because of environmental issues, and inequality for immigrants and refugees.

Please enjoy the presentation.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019. 

More blogs in the SDG Series:
- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 5
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 6
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 7
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 8
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 9

SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 9

Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

With over half the world population now living in cities, mass transport and renewable energy are becoming ever more important, as are the growth of new industries and information and communication technologies (SDG Fund, 2019).

The facts

Industrialisation drives economic growth, creates job opportunities and thereby reduces income poverty. Innovation advances the technological capabilities of industrial sectors and prompts the development of new skills.  Infrastructure provides the basic physical systems and structures essential to the operation of a society or enterprise. Sustained investment in infrastructure and innovation are crucial drivers of economic growth and development. However, basic infrastructure like roads, information and communication technologies, sanitation, electrical power and water remains scarce in many developing countries (SDG Knowledge Platform, 2019).

At the moment, 2.3 billion people still lack access to basic sanitation. In some low-income African countries, infrastructure constraints cut businesses’ productivity by around 40 percent. Moreover, 2.6 billion people in developing countries do not have access to constant electricity, and more than 4 billion people still do not have access to the Internet – of which 90 percent are in the developing world. There are opportunities too. The renewable energy sectors currently employ more than 2.3 million people, which could reach 20 million by 2030. Also, in developing countries, barely 30 percent of agricultural products undergo industrial processing, compared to 98 percent high-income countries, which suggests that there are great opportunities for developing countries in agribusiness (UNDP, 2019).

The focus of SDG 9

The focus of sustainable development goal (SDG) 9 is to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. These pillars all share the objective of achieving socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable economic development. Realizing SDG 9 by 2030 requires overcoming resource constraints, building and strengthening developing countries’ capacities, and exploring innovative ways to solve development challenges. SDG 9 has approximately 20 targets and indicators related to its three pillars and is closely linked to other SDGs related to job creation, sustainable livelihoods, improved health, technology and skills development, gender equality, food security, green technologies and climate change (SDG Knowledge Hub, 2019).

Implications for business

Ageing, degraded or non-existent infrastructure makes conducting good business challenging. Business relies on materials, resources, labour and service support from all corners of the world and the ability to access them efficiently is key to establishing new markets. Computing and technology-based skills are of significant value to most businesses today, and consumers of common goods and services live on every continent. However, basic infrastructure supporting technologies, communications, transportation, and sanitation that business relies on is not universally available, hindering economic growth and societal progress. Promoting sustainable industries, and investing in scientific research and innovation, are all important ways to facilitate sustainable development (SDG Fund, 2019).

Promoting innovation

More than 4 billion people still do not have access to the internet. Bridging this digital divide is crucial to ensure equal access to information and knowledge, and consequently foster innovation and entrepreneurship. This presents an opportunity for business. By committing to sustainable industrialization and promoting innovation across company operations, businesses can contribute to development efforts in the regions in which they operate through upgrading local infrastructure, investing in resilient energy and communications technologies, and making these technologies available to all people, including marginalized groups, who might not have access otherwise. Global companies can also promote inclusive infrastructure development by bringing valuable financial services and employment opportunities to smaller and/or minority-owned businesses (SDG Compass, 2019).

Delivering infrastructure

Leadership on SDG 9 represents a significant market opportunity for businesses in other ways too. For example, retrofits and installation of new infrastructure is a market worth $3.7 trillion annually. Delivering this infrastructure can allow businesses to access new markets for their products and services, as well as access to underserved labour markets and resources, while respecting international standards for environment and social impacts. The transition to a green, resilient industrial and infrastructure base globally represents a significant investment opportunity with large rewards for businesses that can position themselves at the leading edge of the sectors that must deliver it (SDG Blueprint for Business, 2017).

Interconnectedness to other SDGs

Action on SDG 9 is strongly interconnected with many other SDGs, most notably SDG 11 on sustainable cities and communities, and SDG 12 on responsible consumption and production. Efforts to create new opportunities for innovation and employment in developing countries directly relate to SDG 8. Infrastructure-dependent SDGs including those relating to food (SDG 2), water and sanitation (SDG 6), energy (SDG 7), and climate action (SDG 13) will also benefit from action on SDG 9. Leading action must be managed such that it does not risk exacerbating existing inequalities, or creating new ones, and so that it is not contributing to any form of corruption and violation of human rights that would negatively impact on a range of SDGs (SDG Blueprint for Business, 2017).

SDG Video

The video on SDG 9 is created by our CR3+ partner ISAE Brazilian Business School (ISAE). The video highlights two projects that are related to SDG 9. The first project is called Jardins de Mel, which involves placing bee boxes in areas such as parks, schools and community gardens. The project raises awareness about the environment, the contribution of insects to maintaining life, pollination and the importance of ecosystem services. The second project is a start-up from Curitiba in Brazil that used renewable energy technology to create a mini-plant that generates energy from water and then returns 100% of the water back to its source.

Please enjoy the presentation.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019. 

More blogs in the SDG Series:
- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 5
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 6
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 7
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 8

SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 8

Sustainable Development Goal 8 - decent work and economic growth

Over the past 25 years, the number of workers living in extreme poverty has declined dramatically, despite the long-lasting impact of the economic crisis of 2008/2009. In developing countries, the middle class now makes up more than 34 percent of total employment – a number that has almost tripled between 1991 and 2015. However, as the global economy continues to recover we are seeing slower growth, widening inequalities and employment that is not expanding fast enough to keep up with the growing labour force (SDG Fund, 2019).

The facts

The International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) 100th anniversary was commemorated in April this year at the UN Headquarters in New York, where the United Nations’ Global Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés noted that, despite the 180 ILO conventions, ranging from gender equality to forced labour, “injustice is still a reality for millions”. Some of the figures are:

  • Over 40 million people today are victims of modern slavery, which is more than twice the number involved in the transatlantic slave trade.
  • Many more women than men are underutilized in the labour force – 85 million compared to 55 million.
  • 190 million people are unemployed worldwide, a third of whom are young.
  • 300 million people make up the working poor, half of whom are young.
  • Some 700 million workers lived in extreme or moderate poverty in 2018, with less than US$ 3.20 per day.
  • 2 billion people are engaged in informal work, often without social protections.

María stressed that issues of social justice will become “even more important” as the world of work changes (SDG Knowledge Hub, 2019; UNDP, 2019).

The focus of SDG 8

The focus of sustainable development goal eight (SDG 8) is to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. SDG 8 contains a number of targets indicating the type and scale of economic growth desired. These include ensuring economic growth is faster (at least seven per cent per year) in the least developed countries and requiring that the growth is aligned with development-oriented policies such as supporting start-ups and SMEs, the eradication of modern slavery, and the prioritisation of high quality jobs.

How can business be involved?

As employers, creating decent jobs is one of the fundamental ways in which businesses support economic growth and sustainable development, but it is also how companies support and drive their own future development.

What is decent work?

Decent work, as defined by the ILO, is work that is productive and delivers a fair income; security in the workplace; social protection for families; better prospects for personal development and social integration; freedom for people to express their concerns, organize and participate in the decisions that affect their lives; and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men (SDG Blueprint for Business, 2018).

UN Guiding Principles & SDG Blueprint for Business

A way of providing decent work is through the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; a set of guidelines for States and companies to prevent, address and remedy human rights abuses committed in business operations (find the document here). Further, the SDG Blueprint for Business outlines four key ways that businesses can focus their actions on SDG8:

  • Support decent working conditions for all employees across the business and supply chains, with partnerships to build suppliers’ capacity to do the same.
  • Educate and train the labour force, focusing on vulnerable and economically disadvantaged groups.
  • Create decent formal-sector jobs in labour-intensive sectors, especially in least-developed countries.
  • Drive economic growth and productivity by investing in R&D, upgrading skills, and supporting growing businesses, in a way that is compatible with sustainable development.

SDG Video

The video below is created by our CR3+ partner Hanken School of Economics (Finland). The video focuses on the targets set for SDG 8. Firstly, the video features Professor Emeritus Jeff Hearn, Research Director of the GODESS Institute, a research and development institute that focuses on research areas of Gender, Organization, Diversity, Equality, and Social Sustainability in transnational times (Hanken, 2019). Jeff looks at “what is work?” and more importantly “what is decent work?”. Professor Emeritus Niklas Bruun, Chair of Board of the GODESS Institute, continues the discussion on decent work as outlined by the UN and explains the aims of the International Labour Organisation. Lastly, Charlotta Niemistö, Director of the GODESS Institute and Project Leader of Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WeAll), discusses sustainable economic growth and social and human sustainability.

Please enjoy the presentation.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019.
More blogs in the SDG Series:
- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 5
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 6
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 7

SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 7

Sustainable Development Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

The aim of sustainable development goal seven (SDG 7) is ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. At the moment however, there is a wide variety across countries, and the current rate of progress falls short of what will be required to achieve this goal. Redoubled efforts will be needed, particularly for countries with large energy access deficits and high energy consumption (UN SDG Indicators, 2019).

The facts

One in 7 people still lack electricity and most of them living in rural areas of the developing world. More than 40 percent of the world’s population (3 billion) rely on polluting and unhealthy fuels for cooking. And, as the population continues to grow, so will the demand for cheap energy, and an economy reliant on fossil fuels is creating drastic changes to our climate. The share of renewables in final energy consumption is modestly increasing (from 17.3 per cent in 2014 to 17.5 per cent in 2015), but only 55 per cent of the renewable share was derived from modern forms of renewable energy.

There have been improvements in recent years:

  • From 2000 to 2016, the proportion of the global population with access to electricity increased from 78 per cent to 87 per cent, with the absolute number of people living without electricity dipping to just below 1 billion.
  • From 2000 to 2016, the electricity access rate increased from 60 per cent to 86 per cent in Southern Asia and from 26 per cent to 43 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Global energy intensity decreased by 2.8 per cent from 2014 to 2015, double the rate of improvement seen between 1990 and 2010 (UN SDG Knowledge Platform, 2019).

The focus of SDG 7

The targets set to be achieved by 2030 include universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services, increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, energy efficiency improvements, investments in clean and renewable energy and energy infrastructure.

Affordable and clean energy has come one step closer due to progress in electrification, particularly in least developed countries (LDCs), and improvements in industrial energy efficiency. However, national priorities and policy ambitions still need to be strengthened to put the world on track to meet the energy targets for 2030 (UN SDG Knowledge Platform, 2019).

Reaching SDG 7 is also crucial to achieving many of the other SDGs – from poverty eradication via advancements in health, education, water supply and industrialization to mitigating climate change.

The Energy Security Trilemma in Australia

Securing an affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible energy sector is a huge challenge for policy makers, also in Australia. In the face of rapid technological change in the energy sector, policy needs to evolve to achieve three objectives:

  • Meet Australia’s Climate Change commitments under the Paris Agreement;
  • Ensure stable supply of energy so the ‘lights don’t go out’ (again);
  • Mitigate rising electricity costs, particularly for vulnerable and elderly households (Pursuit, 2017).

While access to electricity is near universal in Australia, the retail price of electricity has more than doubled in the past decade. This means Australians now pay higher electricity prices than most other OECD countries. Rising retail energy prices are placing low-income households under significant financial pressure. The 20% of Australian households with the lowest incomes are spending 4-5% of their household budget on electricity alone. Additionally, low-income Australians often live in poorly insulated and energy-inefficient houses and are less likely to be able to afford solar panels and other high-cost items that help reduce energy bills, such as energy-efficient water heaters and appliances.

Australia remains highly dependent on fossil fuels, with renewable energy making up just 7.5% of the total final energy consumption for 2014. However, the Australian Government’s Renewable Energy Target and state–based actions are now driving substantial investment in renewable electricity generation and renewables are likely to account for 23% of electricity generated by 2020.

While this is good news, energy policy after 2020 remains uncertain. An absence of federal incentives for renewables means that investment will rely on state policies and commercial returns, putting future levels of investment and emission reduction targets at risk (Transforming Australia Report, 2018).

SDG Video

The video on SDG 7 is created by our CR3+ partner Hanken School of Economics (Finland). In the first part of the video, Professor Peter Björk talks about the General Assembly’s decision in 2015 to make energy part of the SDGs and discusses the Accelerating SDG7 Achievement document released in 2018. This publication includes 27 policy briefs by global energy authorities from the UN System, international organizations, Member States and others. It proposes a new Global Agenda for Accelerated SDG7 Action as a clear roadmap towards achieving universal energy access by 2030 and maximizing its positive impact on other SDGs (Division for Sustainable Development Goals, 2019). According to Peter, the document gives a good overview of what has been done between 2015 and 2018 to achieve SDG 7 and more importantly, what still needs to be done to achieve this SDG. In the second part of the video, Peter focuses on energy systems and interviews Jukka-Pekka Niemi from Wärtsilä, a partner company of Hanken School of Economics that produces and sells energy solutions. The interview focuses on Wärtsilä’s strategy in leading the energy sector’s transformation toward a 100% renewable energy future.

Please enjoy the presentation.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019. 
More blogs in the SDG Series:
- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 5
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 6
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