Making a commitment to the UN SDGs

Making a commitment to the UN SDGs

ACCA Think Ahead

by Shelly Ann Mohammed

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

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On September 25, 2015, a remarkable meeting happened in New York City. For the first time in history, governments of the world met in one place and pledged to put aside national interests to protect the common future of all people on the planet.

This historical day was when the representatives of all 193 members of the United Nations approved a bold, collaborative proposal to change the world.

They signed a document called 'Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development', with targets to tackle interconnected issues — environmental, economic and educational — which together pose a critical threat to human survival.

The UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets introduced in this report are a last chance to act together on a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. The stakes were and are incredibly high. As the UN secretary general at the time, Bank-Ki Moon, pointed out: “We don't have plan B, because there is no planet B.”

There has been some progress in the five years since, but there is wide recognition that global action is not advancing at the speed or scale needed. That's why the current UN secretary general, António Guterres, has called on all sectors of society to mobilise for a 'decade of action' to reach the goals by 2030.

This reflects a growing mood for change and real action across societies everywhere. People here in the Caribbean, but also in all countries on all continents are increasingly aware that more must be done to protect and sustain the future prospects, happiness and security of our children, grandchildren, and all future generations.

So, in the spirit of doing our bit in an open and accessible way, we have publicly committed to nine of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, embedding them into our strategy and focus, and promising to report annually on our progress.

We have studied the goals and chosen the ones which are the most relevant to ACCA and our members in the accountancy and finance professions, so that we can give our full focus to the areas where we believe we can make the most difference.

Our commitments include embedding green finance in our qualifications and learning products to improve capability across the profession for climate action, promoting gender equality across our global community and achieving gender equality across our employee population; and committing to becoming Net Zero by 2030. Our commitments are listed on our website, and I urge you to take a look and read them too.

While sustainability isn't a new concept at ACCA, we believe that now more than ever, it's time for action. We believe that this is the right thing to do. Making our commitments public is an important and necessary step to ACCA and our community plays a key role in the transformational change business and society needs to see over the next decade. Our approach is collaborative. We know that we can make the most impact towards the SDGs by delivering change for public good through our connected community here across the Caribbean but also globally.

And as Mark Carney, former governor of the Bank of England and COP 26 finance adviser made clear at an event for Climate Week in October 2020, the accountancy profession is absolutely essential in the fight against climate change. So professional accountants have a massive role to play here, as they are vital to supporting economies to grow and prosper in a sustainable way.

We know that this is not going to be quick or particularly easy, but it's an important issue for us, for the accountancy profession and the future of our global society.

Shelly Ann Mohammed is the head of ACCA Caribbean


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