A global day of action in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals

“Ours can be the first generation to end poverty – and the last generation to address climate change before it is too late.”

These prophetic words were spoken by former UN Secretary General, BanKi Moon, in May 2015.

A few months later, on 25 September 2015, global leaders, and all United Nations Member States adopted a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This universal call to action set an ambitious agenda to bring governments, civil society and enterprises together around 17 global goals to end poverty, protect our planet and ensure peace and prosperity for all by 2030.

Interestingly, the Goals captured the imagination of business leaders. In an era of political unrest and uncertainty, globalisation, disruption and lack of trust, enlightened business leaders could see the value of connecting business strategy to social and environmental issues in an integrated way. Those companies that understand that their stakeholder interests must and should stretch beyond their shareholders alone, who can take a long term view, have begun to reap the benefits of sustained profits, happy employees and enhanced reputation.

As a 14 year veteran of KPMG, and former Chair of the UN Global Compact’s Australian Network, I’ve seen sustainability issues move from the fringes of business activity to become fundamental to the health and prosperity of organisations.

No more potent has this shift been than in the area of climate change. It has now become a fiduciary duty of Directors on Boards to understand climate and its associated risks, and what this means for the companies they oversee.

But despite the science, the increase in natural disasters and the worst droughts Australia has seen in 5 years, it’s been a 16 year old girl who has held our world’s leaders to account in New York this week at the UN Climate Action Summit.

While I sometimes lamented what I saw as an apathy towards what was happening in our society, I was energised last Friday as I joined tens of thousands of people in Sydney to support greater climate action. What moved and excited me most was the feeling of connected humanity – people of all ages and backgrounds, collectively amplifying the young people’s voices who wanted to see our leaders take more strident action to save our planet.

Today, Ban Ki Moon’s words have taken on a new urgency. Which is why more than 3,500 KPMG people will be volunteering their professional skills, or their hands, even in some cases their blood, to work with more than 100 organisations in support of the Sustainable Development Goals. Our people will be united by the single purpose to empower change within our communities.

By connecting to our purpose as Citizens of KPMG, we will take action to create a positive social and environmental impact around our nation. This day of business as unusual, will mark the beginning of a heightened commitment by us all to sustainable growth, where profit cannot exist with disregard for people and planet.

Today, our generation will act for change.


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