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Sustainable Development Goals Add Value for Cities, Companies, Investors and Society

Sustainable Development Goals Add Value for All Sectors

By 2030, the global population is expected to reach 8.6 billion. This expanding global market is opening new opportunities for all sectors.

By 2030, the global population is expected to reach 8.6 billion.

sustainable development goals

By 2030, the global population is expected to reach 8.6 billion. Half of the world’s population will be concentrated in just 9 countries by the middle of the century, according to the United Nations, and 26 countries in Africa will have doubled in size. This expanding global market is opening new markets and opportunities for governments, companies, investors and civil society. But there are serious challenges too. Technological and demographic changes, combined with shifts in global supply chains, are affecting labour markets. Urban infrastructure is in need of significant investment and revitalisation. The impact of climate change is beginning to be felt in concrete and dramatic ways. And citizens are demanding more sustainable choices from their public and private sector leaders. 

Sustainability is a central focus of the new governmental program, Inclusive and Competent Finland, which aims to transform Finland into a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable society by 2030.

These opportunities and challenges require innovative solutions and coordinated action among all sectors of society. Sustainability is a central focus of the new governmental program, Inclusive and Competent Finland, which aims “to transform Finland into a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable society by 2030.” It presents support for the Nordic welfare model, robust job growth and productivity, climate change mitigation, and responsible use of natural resources as a roadmap for a globally-competitive, emissions-free Finland.

Global and National Commitments

In 2015, Finland and all other United Nations’ member states adopted Agenda 2030 – a universal plan of action to make the world more prosperous, inclusive and resilient – and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These global goals aim to end poverty and hunger, ensure sustainable consumption and production, and promote peaceful, healthy and equitable societies. Together with the Paris Agreement, the SDGs aim to combat climate change and promote green economic growth.

Finland’s national sustainability strategy, The Finland We Want by 2050, focuses on eight bold objectives that go even further than the global goals. These include a carbon neutral society, lifestyles that respect the carrying capacity of nature, and a participatory society for citizens. Finnish cities are leading the way on implementing these goals. Helsinki’s city strategy aims to make it the most functional city in world, with sustainable decision-making and smart solutions in everyday life. Helsinki is a member of the international Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance (CNCA) and over 50 Finnish cities are part of a Carbon Neutral Municipalities (HINKU) network led by the Finnish Environment Institute. These cities are committed to an 80% reduction in emissions by 2030. 

Helsinki’s city strategy aims to make it the most functional city in world, with sustainable decision-making and smart solutions in everyday life.

While governments are accountable for implementing Agenda 2030, there is a clear consensus that the SDGs and national sustainability goals can only be achieved through strong collaboration with private companies, investors and civil society. The SDGs need to be approached in an integrated way in order to achieve robust results and lasting impact. Innovative leadership must come from all sectors and effective public-private partnerships are essential for success.

Change Spurs Innovation and Opportunity

Pioneering cities, companies, investors and organisations are already contributing to and reporting on the SDGs. They understand the need to integrate the SDGs into their work at all levels. It is clear that operating in a sustainable way is no longer a choice, but a necessity for long-term success in all areas of business and society. 

Investors and companies are putting more focus on the SDGs as they stimulate innovation and open new commercial prospects. Businesses that develop solutions to the challenges of sustainable development are considered a good investment opportunity. The global market for renewable energy and energy efficient technologies, for example, is growing rapidly as climate change mitigation and adaptation becomes an urgent priority. The need to develop new products, services and distribution channels for businesses and consumers around the world, including in developing countries, also offers huge potential for improving various areas of business, such as supply chain management.

Due to technology and globalisation, market entry costs have lowered for non-traditional actors and start-ups with disruptive business models. Social enterprises, which prioritise social and economic performance alongside profit, are fast increasing in size and influence. Local companies are piloting innovative initiatives that can be scaled up and replicated. Large cities and capital regions are expanding impact by building networks of innovative ecosystems to tackle climate change and create jobs using technology, artificial intelligence and social innovation.

These changes are providing market incentives for leaders in all sectors to develop ethical, inclusive, resource-efficient and resilient strategies. Companies that adopt new technologies and innovative models increase their access to affordable capital as investors are searching for and valuing sustainable solutions (and the SDGs) to an increasing extent when making investment decisions. Consumers and civil society groups are demanding more accountability from companies and government institutions on their environmental and social impact. Those that don’t integrate the SDGs into their strategies and approach will face higher risks and missed opportunities for future growth. 

Contributing to the SDGs goes beyond furthering development objectives and provides added value and competitive advantage for cities, companies, investors and organisations that rise to the occasion. 

How KPMG can help you?

KPMG is here to help clients in all sectors adapt to this changing world and understand how the Sustainable Development Goals can advance their core objectives.

KPMG has developed useful tools to help its clients integrate the Sustainable Development Goals into their targets, strategies, operations and reporting. Publications such as How to Report on the SDGs and Boardroom Questions offer concrete advice on how to get started. For key industries (e.g. energy, healthcare, transportation), KPMG collaborated with the UN Global Compact to publish a SDG Industry Matrix that provide practical examples and ideas for action on each of the SDGs for six key industries. Investors can look to Creating Value for Society through Impact Investing for information on this growing sector. Public sector clients can learn about trends shaping governments in our Future State 2030 and Benchmarking City Services reports. And all clients can use our recently-released 2019 Change Readiness Index, which captures data on over 150 variables across 140 countries.

Contact us

Tracy Dolan

International Development Assistance Services

Tel. +358 20 760 3688


Riikka Sievänen

Responsible Investment and Sustainability Services

Tel. +358 20 760 3170


Maarit Vuorela

Government Advisory Services

Tel. +358 20 760 3449


Email: firstname.lastname@kpmg.fi