The countdown to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals

Rhiannan PriceOn September 25, the clock starts ticking. The United Nations member states will adopt 17 ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as priorities until 2030. From that point, the international community will give itself 15 years to end poverty, end hunger and save our environment. This is a daunting mandate. As of 2011, 2.2 billion people lived on less than $2 a day. So when deciding how best to affect change, we have to think about how to reach millions of the most vulnerable, remote populations on earth.

The organizations with the best reach worldwide include many companies – think of Coca-Cola’s distribution model or Western Union wiring money or DigitalGlobe satellites watching the Earth from space. If the private sector is really going to be a stakeholder in ending poverty, we have to truly want to affect change. This is more than corporate social responsibility – it’s a new line of business. If the private sector doesn’t play a major role in the development agenda, the SDGs, like their predecessors the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), will fail. The role of the private sector needs to be more than financing. It’s about leveraging all that the private sector has to offer: technical expertise, business acumen, data-driven decisions, R&D, and much more.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

This is not to say that with the private sector involved we won’t fail. The best way to amplify our impact is to work together. DigitalGlobe has innovative solutions in food and nutrition security, environmental sustainability, infrastructure development, livelihoods and human rights, but our work supports those of you on the frontlines of development.

Every day, DigitalGlobe’s satellites beam down terabytes of data, observing the vast expanses of the Earth from farmer fields in rural Ethiopia to the coastlines of the Caribbean. There is so much information that can be extracted from our extensive libraries and ongoing collections. While we may be subject matter experts in geospatial data, we work closely with partners to apply our expertise to solve real-life issues. And although information is powerful, it is only as impactful as the people who put it to use. With strong partners, we can uncover new ways to apply our imagery and data to impact food and nutrition security, human rights, livelihoods, infrastructure development and environmental sustainability.

For that reason, today we launch 17 days of conversation. Let’s discuss how to best execute against the framework put forth by the SDGs. DigitalGlobe has a significant role to play as a thought leader and information provider, and we plan to use this opportunity to share our ideas of how to see a better world but also to learn from those of you who have spent your lives fighting to end poverty in one form or another.

Stick with us over these next 17 days. Every day we’ll share an “image of the day” on Facebook, highlighting exciting images used in global development – tell us what you think. We’ve also got some great events planned, such as our Twitter Live Chat next Wednesday (please join us), our commitment to the UN Zero Hunger Challenge, and a first-of-its kind crowdsourcing campaign in Mali – you can sign up on Tomnod and join the conversation in the Tomnod forum. And to top that all off, there will be a big announcement from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon himself about a new global partnership in which DigitalGlobe is an anchor partner.

We’re looking forward to reflecting with you over the next few weeks and taking action together. Join the conversation, and let’s make these Sustainable Development Goals our 2030 baseline.

Already want to know more about our global development work? Check out our Seeing a Better World™ video.