Sustainable Development Goals and Meaning


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Years of Industrial development has been contributing to flaring and Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. No country in the world could escape the drastic effects of global warming and climate changes. If action is not taken now, the damages would be irreversible causing long lasting changes to our planet earth. Year after year the level of sea ice has been declining sending across potential signs of danger. Over Exploitation of the non-renewable energy sources by Humans is leading to depletion of these non-recoverable fuels. At this rate of over utilization of the resources, we will soon run out of fossil fuels. The number of people having access to electricity has increased remarkably between 1990 and 2010.Thus fossil fuels are over exploited to meet the growing needs of the global economy. It is highly essential to develop and use sustainable energy sources. Efforts should be taken to bring the renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy at par with thermal energy. The entire plant and animal species are also impacted along with humans by the rigorous self-harming activities of humans. Many plant and animal species are at the risk of endangerment at an alarming rate and few have already been endangered. These actions have been hampering our delicate ecosystem and hence it is highly crucial to find a way to keep the balance of our ecosystem. In areas where there is a shortage of food and water, a social decline is present. Thus, upsetting all the 3 pillars i.e. Economic development, social development and environment protection. Thus, Humans have finally recognized their responsibility towards our planet earth. This awareness recently has led to unified goals to make earth a better place and using the available resources mindfully. Nations have started working towards clean environment and place great emphasis on the identification and mitigation of Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) risks.

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What is sustainable development?

Sustainability is a broad discipline, which gives insights into most aspects of the human world from environment to social development and from technology to business. Definition of sustainable Development-Sustainable development is defined as development of present that meets the needs of the present without inhibiting the ability of future generations. The desired result is a balanced and stable ecosystem without compromising the quality of life and the resources meeting the human needs. When natural resources that are used by humans are utilized at the rate at which they can be replenished naturally is called Sustainability in true sense.

 Sustainable Development Goals

In the year 2012, United Nations conference on the topic of sustainable development decided on a set of 17 universal sustainable goals. These development goals are the urgent steps that all nations and citizens of this earth should be taking to save the planet and transform it to sustainable route. All the 17 sustainable goals are interlinked and thus the success or failure of one would directly impact the other goals.

Role of ISO in SDG’S:

 No poverty: ISO 20400, has set up guidelines for supply chains to be implemented ethically. With these standards in place Organizations are enforced to follow ethical and sustainable purchasing methods. By doing so, the society benefits within the area of operation. ISO 37001, is basically a standard to ward off bribery. It aids business and governments to fight bribery and promote integrity in the society. It is very well known that the root cause of poverty and a wide gap between the rich and poor is due to bribery in our system. Hence by installing such standards, poverty can be eradicated in the world.

 Zero hunger-ISO has a group of standards to assess and control food safety. One of the family of standards is ISO 22000 which focuses primarily on food safety. Food safety hazards are prevented with the help of this standard. Social responsibility is taken care of by standards such as ISO 26000.Working conditions of agricultural workers is improved by sustainable procurement in the food production chain with the help of ISO 20400.Cocoa bean farming has ISO 34101 which specifies standards on sustainable cocoa bean production. A management system is in place which specifies requirements in cocoa bean farming.

Good health and well-being- In the field of healthcare systems, ISO has set standards such as ISO 11137 which focuses on sterilization of products. The material used for surgical instruments is monitored by ISO 7153.There are about more than 1300 standards in place to provide an effective and reliable healthcare service by supporting equipment’s and medical practices that are safe.

Quality Education-Vocational education and on job training which are learning outside the formal educational system is covered by ISO 29993.This standard puts across the requirements and outcomes of these coaching services. Another example of this is ISO/TC 232.These standards function as the management systems for these educational institutions by providing requirements.

 Gender equality- This is one the widely discussed social issue. ISO has set standards to eliminate the gender disparity for example, ISO 26000.The social responsibility of female empowerment and promoting equal rights to all the sexes is the objective of ISO 26000.The government as well as the firms require a balanced mix of females and males. This balance will help in promoting parity which will ensure no sex is treated inferior to the other and equal opportunity is provided when it comes to hiring, pay scale and career opportunities. The crucial decisions in governments as well as organizations will have both men and women in equal role of participation and decision making.

 Clean water and sanitation- ISO 24518 – in the event of water shortage or crisis, this standard is set for drinking water management for society to come out of this situation. It also establishes guidelines for wastewater services and maintenance and management of on-site wastewater services. An example of this is ISO 24521.Users and operators are trained, risks are evaluated and basic waste water systems are designed and developed. Local resources are put to use to use some alternative technologies.

Affordable and clean energy- ISO 50001, is nothing but implementation of energy management system. It has set up guidelines for organizations to adapt and follow optimal energy usage. It also includes user guidance with requirements. The ISO 52000 series of standards is to help the construction sector to improve energy efficiency by measuring the energy performance of buildings. ISO has numerous other standards which promotes the renewable energy sources such as solar energy, for example ISO 9806.This standard specifies the methods to identify the safety, durability and reliability. Also, the solar collectors have to meet the thermal performance. Solid biofuels too have certain specifications such as ISO 17225 which classifies the fuel quality.

Decent work and economic growth- ISO 45001 is in place to safeguard the health of the employees of an organization. This has established standards for organizations to protect the health and safety by following the guidelines of Occupational health and safety management systems.

 Industry, innovation and Infrastructure-There are certain standards set for companies that collaborate and work together. Example of this is ISO 44001 which helps in growing and maintaining healthy business relationships which in turn increases the turnover of these organizations. A platform is provided by the framework which assists these firms internally as well as between multiple firms. Innovation is nurtured between the collaborating partners with ISO 50503.Innovation management systems are defined by standards ISO 50501.

Reduced Inequalities-Discrimination of any sort within an organization is countered by standard such as ISO 26000 which is enforces organization to carry out its operation in a socially responsible way. It provided guidelines on how organizations can provide equal opportunity to all without any discrimination. Aspects such as human rights, consumer issues and labor practices are defined. To give a fair chance to the developing countries and to remove barriers for them to trade in global market to make their NQI strong is also one of the goal of ISO. They help these developing countries to participate and integrate into markets regionally as well as globally which in turn provides them the capacity to boost their welfare. They can focus on building their infrastructure as well as develop their health care system. Developing countries are provided with an opportunity to participate in international standardization by offering them expertise in strategy formation as well as technical and operational guidance.

 Sustainable cities and communities- Number of standards are available to indicate the quality of life in cities and the services offered by them such as ISO 37120 and indicators for smart cities such as ISO 37122 for indicators for resilient cities. Standards are set to make communities sustainable, safer and resilient to face challenges. Cities and communities are operated efficiently by setting standards for secure business, water management and intelligent transport systems. Examples of these are ISO 22313 for business continuity management systems, ISO 22326 for emergency management, ISO 22395 for helping people in case of emergency and ISO 24526 for water efficiency management.

 Responsible consumption and Production-Environment labelling is defined under standards such as ISO 14020 series. Buildings are constructed sustainably throughout the entire lifecycle of construction work, i.e., from inception to the completion of project with the help of principles defined under standard ISO 15392.ISO 20400 for procurement of goods and services in an organization sustainably.

Climate action- Group of standards, namely ISO 14000 are responsible for providing framework for organizations to carry out their operations sustainably without impacting the environment in a negative way. Tools are provided for organizations to curb and manage the environment altering operations in their environmental management systems. One of the well-known and widely used standards in this regards is ISO 14001 which covers aspects such as environmental labelling, audits, communications and ways to get accustomed to the climatic change.

Life below water- Life under water is safeguarded by standard such as ISO/TC 234 which focuses on marine life management and traceability of resources and fish. Opportunity is provided by ISO’s technical committee for aquaculture and fisheries for the sustainable development for marine life.

 Life on Land-Efforts have been taken by ISO to use forest and its resources sustainably. ISO 38200 focuses on deriving wood from sustainable sources and thus helps in curbing the illegal practices of deforestation. It restricts the use of wood obtained from unsustainable methods. ISO 14000 deals with Protection and restoration of terrestrial ecosystems. ISO 14055, has set principles and standards to manage environment by setting practices for using land efficiently to combat desertification and degradation of land.

 Peace, justice and strong institutions- Promotion of peace, integrity and justice by increasing transparency in the management system by combatting bribery with the aid of the standard ISO 37001.ISO 37000 sets guidelines for good governance in organizations. This standard isn’t fully developed and is under progress. ISO 37000 helps in the management of firms ranging from all types and from small to medium size. A stable direction is given to the organization by governance. Management systems have to comply with ISO 19600.

 Partnerships for the goals- ISO believes in global integration of nations, governments and industries for the upliftment of all. Partnership of stakeholders coming from all parts of the globe is going to give rise to enormous benefits such as the improvements in health care system, educational institutions and improvement of the environment. Expertise coming from diverse backgrounds would revitalize the ISO system. Global partnership leads to sustainable development as diverse participants would help in creating standards that would benefit all nations regardless of economic condition or size. ISO recognizes the need of creating more collaboration as this would by default open the world market and create an economic gateway. 

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