UN Sustainability Goals - Event Summary

UN Sustainability Goals are very different from the Millennium Goals, which they have replaced. Agreed to by the nations of the UN the 2030 targeted Sustainability Goals are about challenging us all. The 17 goals areas where each built up from 151 objectives which mean anyone can find something to engage with.

table of 17 individual icons showing sustainable development goals

What does an engineer, architect and an environmental scientist have in common?  The United Nations Sustainability Goals is one, being a document that unites us all. 


On the 21st of November an EWB and EA look at these goals to find out how they manage to cross national borders, cultures and professions, and in doing so challenge us all to improve the health of our planet and our societies.


The UN Sustainability Goals are very different from the Millennium Goals, which they have replaced, and are all about challenging us nationally and individually.  The 17 goal areas are each built up from 151 objectives which mean anyone can find something to engage with. Structured around goals like climate action, sustainable cities and gender equality means there are objectives that even lucky countries like Australia can work towards.  These objectives are therefore not just for the poor, and instead include aims for business, political and developed world people as well. This approach means that even traditional poverty goals - such as zero hunger include the developed world. For example, in his case Australia’s, high diabetes and obesity mean that we only score 58% in the zero hungry goal, given us objectives even in this area. In fact, estimates suggest that achieving all goals will required personal and business engagement each equal to any governmental commitment.


With the international stage set, the event then asked how the Built Form Industry and each of us engage with the UN Sustainability Goals?  By breaking into working groups participants used an Australia Post model to categories the 7-12 objectives of a single goal into professional, political and personal areas. This approach provided a simple tool which was applicable on either a personal or i business setting to sift through the range of actions required to achieve the UN sustainability goals. This allowed the participants to recognise the objectives which each of them engaged most with. Often this engagement was based around which objective they were most able to impact.  Action categories objectives were placed in included; industry engagement, business investment, professional skills, daily activities, personal passion/advocacy for change and political position. 


Empowered by seeing the field that impact each objective, the workshop then discussed methods for taking the next step towards action. To achieve this, working groups looked at how we might market the responsibility, empowerment and potential of the Sustainability Goals to our respective industries and bosses.  To do this participant were encouraged to see the power of the Goals in connection to the core of ‘Why’ of their business – not just the ’What’ we do.  By engaging with the emotion and social connecting of a ‘Why’ question, participants identified the Sustainability Goals strong ability to connect to business aims and client demands. These connections often aligned with company mission statements, client objectives, industry best practices and future market potential. With connections like these, the participants realised that selling future actions to their bosses was easy.  We just have to speak up


In under 2 hours the event was able to distil the UN Sustainability Goals from a colourful list of 17 to a set of core objectives and actions that each participant can do to advance our local and global society.  Engineers without Borders encourages everyone to take the time to look at the objective behind the goals which most align to you – both on a personal and professional level. In doing so identifying actions with they personal engage with and can change with their own targeted action. For more inspiration on how you can engage with the Goals see the below article on the power for change. https://www.beca.com/ignite-your-thinking/ignite-your-thinking/november-2017/unleash-innovation-lab