by Magda Nawrocka-Weekes
To build a sustainable business, and make a lasting impact on the world, its best to set some targets. Thankfully there are already global goals to point people in the right direction. Here we will be talking about how we at CCell and other companies use these to work towards a better world.
With over 20 years in the making the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed upon at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015, are symbolic of a hopeful world. To be completed by 2030, these goals cover everything from reduced inequalities and climate action to health, sanitation and an end to world hunger. The goals were developed based upon a document created in 2012 by the United Nations titled “the future we want” which launched the process of creating the goals. All UN Member States agreed to these goals in 2015. Now, nearly a third of the way through their implementation, their effects and progress are beginning to be seen.
Each of the 17 goals splits into manageable targets, broad enough to be implemented in several different ways. Each target comes with associated indicators so that its progress can easily be recognised and monitored. For example, SDG14.5 is that by 2020, at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas are to be conserved. This conservation must be based on the best available scientific information and consistent with national and international law. The indicator for this goal is the coverage of protected areas compared to marine areas which can be quantifiable.
To help implement SDGs, organisations, mainly the Division for Sustainable Development Goals (DSDG) in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), have been set up. They provide political analysis, co-ordinate inter-agency efforts, connect stakeholders and facilitate the adoption of tangible policies and actions.
At CCell, we combine cutting edge technology with a nature-based solution that prioritises local communities and suitability. Its no wonder we find ourselves meeting six different SDGs, let's look into them a little closer:
This goal is all about future-proofing infrastructure, from roads to sea defences, as well as upgrading industries with more sustainable methods. By retrofitting our paddle manufacturing practices to an existing industry, that of boatbuilders, we aid in the adoption of environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes. These new practices will bring green innovation to their other manufacturing skills. We also provide resilient physical infrastructure, that strengthens over time, in the form of the reefs themselves. As they grow, they become more robust to the effects of storms and waves, major contributing factors in coastal erosion, while sustainably supporting marine ecosystems.
A significant aim within this SDG is to reduce the number of people affected by disasters, especially water-related ones such as hurricanes and floods, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations. To do this, integrated policies based on climate resilience and disaster mitigation will be crucial; solutions like CCell work with nature to protect against the power of the ocean. While reviving marine wildlife on our coral reefs, we will also be providing a vital barrier to the oncoming sea in a sustainable and repairable way. Coastal communities will be hit hardest by the effects of climate change, including increasingly intense storms and flooding, which is why they are a key focus for us.
One way to boost the adoption of sustainable practices is through education. By involving the local community in our reef creation, we will expand their understanding of how they can work in harmony with nature. Our solution also provides hotels and other clients with a prime opportunity to educate their guests on the threat of climate change. Risks both to and from the ocean could be addressed. Discussing our solution with guests will start a dialogue on the other ways in which they can reduce or improve our impact on the earth. Through presenting solutions and beginning discussions, people can start making more informed choices.
In the production of our paddles, we also aim to be as green as possible, using sustainable resources such as cork, making sure our solution doesn't accidentally cause more harm than good.
Along with education, as mentioned earlier, there are other ways in which our solution tackles adaptation to climate change. One of the principal ways in which CCell is useful in mediating climate change is as a carbon sink. Natural coral reefs sequester roughly 2% of the worlds annual Anthropocene CO2 through the formation of their calcium carbonate exoskeleton. By recreating this growth by accumulating CaCO3 in the form of limestone rock and by boosting coral growth, our solution actively traps carbon. Combine this with the restoration efforts of coral gardeners using our reef to enhance marine biodiversity, all while protecting coastal communities, and you are on to a resilient solution. For small island communities, this could be a lifesaver; providing them with renewable electricity infrastructure for years to come, while preserving the very ground they walk on.
Correct management and protection of marine and coastal ecosystems is considered vital for sustainable development. Coral reefs are the habitat and breeding ground for up to a quarter of all marine wildlife. By creating and sustaining more of them, we will be bolstering local biodiversity. This includes fish vital for small scale fishers as there will be new, safe areas for the fish to reproduce and thus replenish their stocks. This SDG also covers ocean-based tourism which should be managed correctly, especially for small island states. Here our artificial reefs will bring in eco-tourists, providing a boost to the local economy while promoting ocean conservation.
Most businesses focus, in some way or another, on the furthering of SDGs, but when their commitment to a goal is at the forefront of their purpose, it is clear to see. There are countless amazing companies and charities out there working on one or multiple of the Sustainable development goals but below are just a few to check out.
One UK company working on reducing food waste is Rubies in the Rubble, who turn ugly fruits and veg into condiments. For broader reading on the challenges this SDG presents, which includes balancing the effects of agriculture on the environment and the importance of fair wages, there is an excellent article from Business Green.
Many companies are springing up to work on this SDG, from those using tech to refine the care sector to apps such as Sweatcoin and GoJauntly, which encourage walking and physical activity. New technology is appearing every day that helps us to live healthier fuller lives.
One cutting-edge company working on water management and responsible production (SDG9/12) is Colorifix which uses biologically deposited dyes to colour clothes. As the textile industry accounts for nearly 20% of worldwide water pollution, this innovation will make a significant impact on environmental runoff from the dyeing process. Their process is unique in the fact that it doesn't require high temperatures, lots of water or harsh chemicals to dye the fabric. One of the charities working on the availability of water is Wateraid. A huge international charity focused on access to clean water, sanitation facilities and toilets for everyone, everywhere by 2030. As well as providing vital water management education all over the world, they are known for cleaning festival toilets in the UK, to help raise awareness for their cause.
If you want to find out even more about companies trying to work on each of the goals, there are great platforms available for getting more information, including the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and the Solar Impulse foundation as well as Business Green's guide to the SDGs.