Coro’s Blog: On Purpose

SDGs+3: Important New Lens on Global Goals

Published on October 9, 2020

Humanity achieved a collective milestone when, in 2015, all countries of the United Nations endorsed the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Together, they form a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere. These are goals worth supporting and I do.

There is just one fly in the ointment: there are some gaping holes when looked at from the Canadian perspective.

I found this out when I was commissioned by the Social Purpose Institute at United Way to research social trends that, if not addressed, could affect Canadian businesses in the future. The research was part of the Institute’s program to identify needs in society that businesses could target as they develop their social purpose north star.

Here is the list of social trends identified from the scan (environmental trends were not part of the study).

Social trends and issues that could affect Canadian businesses as either risks or opportunities

Basics Economy Children Health Vulnerable
Food security Income inequality Child poverty Obesity and healthy lifestyles Indigenous equity
Affordable housing Unemployment / precarious work Disaffected youth Mental health Immigration and racial equity
Safety Mobility Childcare Substance use Inclusion of people with disabilities
Sense of belonging Labour shortage Literacy and numeracy Emergency preparedness Seniors and aging

Source: Social Purpose Institute

Then we compared these social trends to the much-heralded United Nations SDGs. What did we find?

We found that three Canadian social issues are missing from the SDGs:

  • Indigenous equity
  • Aging society
  • Sense of belonging

We needed to advise companies to prioritize the “SDGs+3”, not just the SDGs, when determining the needs in society they can address through their core purpose.

We gave them that advice and now most of them are planning beyond the original SDGs.

The nearly 30 companies that we are helping to define their social purpose use the SDGs+3 model. This broadened lens gives them confidence that they are using a framework relevant both globally and in the Canadian context – so that their social purpose can be truly targeted at advancing a sustainable future for all.

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