This fall, ILN members will have the good fortune to participate in a webinar with Pamela Cone, founder and CEO of Amity Advisory. Pam is speaking on the global movement behind corporate social responsibility and sustainability for law firms, and why firms should care, and in advance of that, I’ll be sharing some guest posts with you that may aid in your own efforts.
The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. The Goals interconnect and in order to leave no one behind, it ís important that we achieve each Goal and target by 2030.” (www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/)
The world is changing and so is the way we must do business.
Companies and their clients and vendors are being called to join in a global corporate sustainability initiative to create a better world by working toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Why should lawyers care about the UN Global Compact and the UN SDGs?
Whether you are working within an in-house legal department, in the public sector, or in a private law firm, all lawyers must familiarize themselves with these goals and the entire movement and understand what it means for their company, their firm, their employees, their clients, and their community. By understanding the Global Compact initiative, and the corresponding Sustainable Development Goals, lawyers will be better positioned to advise clients, to engage in their firms, and become active with their clients in support of this blueprint for a better planet.
What are the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals?
As follow on to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which were adopted in 2000 and were largely achieved within their 15-year timeline, the United Nations developed the roadmap for the next 15 years—the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) with a target date of 2030. Adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, this framework provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet—now and into the future.
The UNSDGs website describes the goals (often referred to as the Global Goals) as an urgent call for action by all developed and developing countries in a global partnership to end poverty, improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth—all while addressing climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. With fewer than 12 years remaining to the target date, there is much work to be done. Achieving these goals will take the efforts of the entire global village, including public and private sectors, as well as civil society.
Goal #17 – Partnerships for the Goals
The last (but certainly not least) of the UNSDGs is Goal #17—Partnerships for the Goals. This goal recognizes and reminds us all that it will take partnerships and collaborations of all types to make greater progress toward the goals than would be possible if working alone or independently. What an amazing opportunity for outside law firms to join their clients’ efforts! What support could you provide your clients as they work to make progress toward the selected UNSDGs that are relevant and material to their business success? Collaborating with clients to make progress toward the goals is an incredibly meaningful way to strengthen the depth and breadth of the relationship, and, at least for the short term, may differentiate your firm.
Longer term, however, understanding and being engaged in the UNSDGs will simply be standard requirements for service providers and other vendors. Recently, one company’s RFP required successful bidders to provide their firm’s CSR policy and to sign the UN Global Compact. Just as clients are driving the focus to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion within and amongst their outside law firms, so too will they be driving greater commitment and engagement in the UNSDGs. Law firms who recognize and embrace this movement will have an advantage over those who don’t recognize this trend and its importance to clients.
Pam Cone is the Founder and CEO of Amity Advisory, and Global Social Responsibility Officer at Milliman.