Sustainability is currently adopted by more and more players each day in cooperation with both the global development initiatives and the responsible investments by the private sector. Sustainability concerns all walks of life including the public and private sectors.

Published by the United Nations (UN) in 2000 and remained in effect until 2015, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (UNMDG) are re-established under the name Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to cover the period between 2015 and 2030. An explicit inclusion of the word ‘sustainability’ in relation to global development goals is an important indication that the fields of practice for sustainability will grow in number in the upcoming period.

To this end, Member States adopted the Sustainable Development Goals to be applicable for the next 15 years on 29 September 2015 during the Rio+20 Conference. The goals are stated below:

  1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere,
  2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture,
  3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages,
  4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all,
  5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls,
  6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all,
  7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all,
  8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all,
  9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation,
  10. Reduce income inequality within and among countries,
  11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable,
  12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns,
  13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts,
  14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development,
  15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss,
  16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels,
  17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

A major obstacle to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals is the requirement to establish finance structures. In order to avoid problems arising from the failure to establish finance structures urgently following the establishment of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, the UN Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Finance and the World Bank held conferences and issued a report in August 2014. The said efforts aim to shed light on the process of financing the Sustainable Development Goals.

Possible solutions to remove the basic financing problems identified to this end are to develop the taxing capabilities of poor countries, to include the private sector and establish public-private partnerships in order to provide a leverage effect for the process of financing development support projects as well as ensuring risk reduction, and create innovative financing mechanisms (carbon markets, carbon pricing, etc.) to attract investors and national wealth funds. Furthermore, it is recommended that the access of micro/small/medium-size enterprises to finances be facilitated to establish a more resilient private sector.

Significant finances will be required specifically until 2030 in order to attain the said goals. The 2014 report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) indicates that an annual financing of USD 5 to 7 billion is required globally in order to finance the sustainable development goals successfully. Developing countries need USD 3.9 trillion while they only receive USD 1.4 trillion. This marks a significant deficit in the need for finances. International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that the amount required for financing energy and energy efficiency projects may rise from an annual USD 1.7 trillion in 2013 to an annual USD 2.5 trillion by 2035. Furthermore, the amount required for access to global electric power under the annual development goal for affordable and clean energy is calculated as an annual USD 44 billion. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that the amount required for low carbon energy investments will rise to an annual USD 1.9 trillion until 2019 and stand at USD 150 billion only for developing countries after 2025. Long-term infrastructure investments bear a USD 10 trillion risk of financial deficit considering the acceleration towards 2020. Green investments additionally require 4% of this amount. In order to finance sustainable development in the said manner, drastic changes will be required in financing and investment systems. Investments in some specific fields (such as fossil fuels) will be reduced in order to improve the efficiency and sustainability of investments.

Financing of sustainable development will be possible through a supply of resources obtained from various points in an efficient manner with the involvement of different stakeholders such as governments, the business world, financial institutions and NGOs. Although the private sector has an increased level of awareness on including environmental, social and governance issues in decision making processes, success in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals will only be possible by integrating the said environmental, social and governance issues in company operations and including the matter in companies’ medium and long term strategic plans.