“In order to achieve the goals of the German Sustainability Strategy and the 2030 Agenda, we must follow the path of a truly ambitious transformation that encompasses important areas such as energy, climate protection, the circular economy, housing, transport, food, and agriculture, ” wrote Chancellor Angela Merkel in March 2021 in the foreword to Germany’s updated Sustainability Development Strategy. It is based on the 17 overarching Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) defined by the United Nations in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda and 169 concrete target values for socially, economically, and ecologically sustainable development. In this way, the SDGs form the common global framework for governments, companies, and society.
To achieve this, the UN has defined more than 231 indicators within the framework of the 2030 Agenda. For each of the 17 SDGs, the EU's indicators contain specific targets to be achieved by 2030 at the latest. For SDG 7 “Affordable and clean energy," for example, the EU aims at reducing energy consumption by 32.5 percent by 2030 while increasing the share of renewable energy to 32 percent. Or under SDG 12 "Responsible consumption and production," the average CO2 emissions of new cars should be less than 95 grams per kilometer.
Companies and public administrations are now also adopting the goals of Agenda 2030 and placing corporate social responsibility (CSR) at the core of their strategies. They want to use it to improve their image, attract younger talented workers who are more committed to sustainability goals, retain customers, and have better opportunities when it comes to public tenders and contracts.
“We take our responsibility to society and the environment very seriously. We live corporate responsibility. Every day. We want to be a leader in climate protection as well as in sustainable supplier management and in ensuring equal opportunity participation in the information and knowledge society,” says Timotheus Höttges, CEO of Telekom. This responsibility is reflected, among other things, in the inclusion of Telekom’s shares in various sustainability indexes, most recently in 2020 in the indexes of Vigeo Eiris, one of the largest sustainability rating agencies.
The German Federal Statistical Office (Statis) evaluates a wide variety of data sources to show the respective status of the indicators in Germany. For example, the indicator “Use of EMAS eco-management system” of SDG 12 “Responsible consumption and production” shows that in 2020 only 2,184 organizations in Germany use an Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). This is less than half of the target of 5,000 EMAS in Germany by 2030. According to the indicator report, “an eco-management system provides a concept for systematic operational environmental protection and is linked to the aspiration to continuously improve the environmental performance of the organizational site.”
How can we measure whether and to what extent an organization is implementing the measures agreed upon in the Agenda 2030? T-Systems has worked with 20 municipal administrations in Spain to develop Syrah Sustainability, a configurable SDG dashboard that enables all public and private organizations to define, visualize, measure, and monitor sustainability indicators. The aggregated information provides a good barometer for deciding on a case-by-case basis which measures have not yet achieved the desired result and where things are going as planned.