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Sustainable development – 2030 Agenda

According to UN data, in terms of the implementation of  Sustainable Development Goals (STGs), Poland is an outstanding country in the international arena, Poland is in 9th place out of 166 countries included in the ranking.

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Unfortunately, Poland’s good results against the global background are mainly due to differences in the level of development between developed countries, including Poland, and developing countries. These disproportions are manifested in the scale and type of challenges that individual countries face in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

What is the 2030 Agenda?

The 2030 Agenda is a programme of action adopted by all member states of the United Nations (UN) in 2015. It is a global action plan for sustainable development aimed at eradicating poverty, combating inequalities and protecting the environment. At the heart of the 2030 Agenda is a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals ,  which address a wide range of social, economic and environmental issues, such as health, education, gender equality, clean water, energy and climate action. These goals are interlinked and are to be achieved by all countries in the world by 2030, which requires international cooperation and the involvement of both the public and private sectors.

The implementation of sustainable development goals in Polish business

According to research by  the Polish Economic Institute (PIE), only 43% of large companies and only 2% of medium-sized ones have comprehensive strategies for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Polish companies most often identify their impact on promoting the well-being and health of employees. However, they attach less importance to the objectives related to innovation, economic growth and environmental issues.

Most of the SDGs (56%) in Poland are on track to achieve their 2030 implementation levels. However, almost a third of them (30%) have stagnated or regressed.

UN Global Sustainable Development Goals
UN Global Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable development goals and the size of a Polish company

The size of a company is a key factor influencing the commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals. In Poland, 78% of large companies and 64% of medium-sized companies are aware of the existence of these goals. At the same time, 64% of large companies declare systematic actions to achieve at least some of these goals, while in the case of medium-sized companies this percentage is only 7%.

The greater involvement of large companies in activities for the 2030 Agenda compared to medium-sized enterprises is related to having long-term development strategies. The motivating factors are the business benefits of commitment to sustainability and the often felt pressure from contractors and customers.

The most important SDG goals for Polish companies

Goal 3, i.e. health and well-being, is a priority objective, according to the survey. Improving health and quality of life was considered important among 65% of the surveyed companies. At the same time, 22% of companies believed that this area of change could be the most affected by their business operations.

Goal 10, which concerns the reduction of inequalities, is considered important by 54% of companies, ranking second in the ranking of priorities of Polish enterprises. In third place, with a result of 51%, is Goal 14, related to the protection of life underwater.

The least important SDG goals for Polish companies

The results of the PIE survey show that Polish companies do not attach much importance to typical economic goals. An example is Goal 9 related to innovation and development of industry and infrastructure, which they consider to be of little importance. Companies also declare a minimal impact of their activities on its implementation. The same applies to Goal 12, which concerns responsible production and consumption. It is also worth noting that few entrepreneurs feel the impact on the implementation of environmental goals, such as the protection of life under water (goal 14) or climate protection (goal 13), despite the growing regulatory pressure in these areas. The low involvement in these issues may result from the high emission and energy intensity of the Polish economy and the slow pace of these changes.

Poland compared to the European Union countries

Compared to the European Union countries, Poland performs particularly well in the implementation of Goal 1, i.e. poverty reduction, and Goal 4, i.e. the quality of education. The implementation of activities to improve these areas of life in Poland is much faster and is at a higher level than the EU average.

Our country achieves the weakest results in the implementation of sustainable development compared to the European Union countries in the implementation of Goal 2, which concerns the reduction of hunger; SDG 6, related to the availability of clean water and improving sanitation, and SDG 14, focusing on life below water. In these areas, not only are the results achieved below the European Union average, but also the pace of their implementation has slowed down significantly.

Global difficulties in implementing the 2030 Agenda

Recent years have shown that it may not be possible to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Developed countries, taking advantage of a much better starting position when announcing the 2030 Agenda, quickly achieved many goals, such as reducing income inequalities and improving public health. However, developing countries continue to face a growing investment gap, which is currently estimated at around $4 trillion per year, which could exceed as much as $22 trillion by 2030.

Other reasons hindering the achievement of the goals of the 2030 Agenda are the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, which have significantly hindered the implementation of the challenges, causing global energy, food, inflation and debt crises. For these reasons, a significant part of the funds allocated for development assistance has been directed to the fight against the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine. This shift in priorities is also the reason for reducing the chance of timely implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

As a consequence, if clear positive effects of the actions taken for sustainable development are not achieved, the condition of ecosystems and the quality of life of communities around the world can be expected to worsen. Delays in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, despite the global priority of Goal 2 on eliminating hunger, are the reason for the reversal of the trend. According to the latest forecasts, in 2030 the number of malnourished people in the world will increase to 665 million, which means an increase of 75 million compared to 2015.

Source: Polish Economic Institute “Implementation of sustainable development goals in Polish business”

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