Checkmarks in the shape of a world map

Working at the world’s checklist

What Are Sustainable Development Goals?

In essence, Sustainable Development Goals are an outline for countries and organizations to adopt in order to create a more principle-driven business culture, improve health and education, reduce inequality, spur economic growth, and tackle climate change.

In 2000, all member states of the United Nations (UN), the global organization responsible for keeping our planet’s citizens safe, signed onto the Millenium Development Goals to build a more sustainable future by 2015. These initial goals were:

  • to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger;
  • to achieve universal primary education;
  • to promote gender equality and empower women;
  • to reduce child mortality;
  • to improve maternal health;
  • to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases;
  • to ensure environmental sustainability; and
  • to develop a global partnership for development
  • In 2015, the United Nations Members adopted a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and our planet. All UN members agreed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At the core of the project are the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are:

    1. No poverty
    2. Zero hunger
    3. Good health and well-being
    4. Quality education
    5. Gender equality
    6. Clean water and sanitation
    7. Affordable clean energy
    8. Decent work and economic growth
    9. Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
    10. Reduced inequalities
    11. Sustainable cities and communities
    12. Responsible consumption and production
    13. Climate action
    14. Life below water
    15. Life on land
    16. Peace, justice, and strong institutions
    17. Partnerships for the goals

    Each Sustainable Development Goal, or SDG, is accompanied by an outline of discrete targets and indicators, making these goals actionable and attainable. Every year, the UN releases reports outlining progress with relevant information.

    Businesses Adopting Sustainable Development Goals

    Governments have a limited capacity to accomplish anything without the private sector. Major multinational companies, as well as nonprofits and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are helping accomplish the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by using the global checklist for a more sustainable planet. Unlikely but powerful partners are helping all over the world.

    Public and private organizations consider their impact by enhancing their missions, broadening the definition of corporate responsibility, and doing what they can to improve the planet. These initiatives have been called many things – most commonly Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), or triple bottom line (social, environmental, financial). Today, they are becoming known as the 17 SDGs.

    Through our own work, the work we donate, and by how we communicate our priorities, Bullhorn Creative focuses and helps companies align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

    Who Is Using the 17 SDGs?

    According to 2017 and 2018 reports from the global consulting firm PwC, a growing number of businesses are measuring themselves and their practices against the SDGs. In 2017, of 470 companies analyzed in 17 countries, 62% mentioned SDGs in their reporting, and 28% setting quantitative targets.

    In 2018, PwC surveyed 729 companies. With their findings, PwC stated clearly that “the SDGs have broken into the mainstream of business reporting.” Half of these companies have identified their organizations priority SDGs, with nearly a quarter (23%) of them disclosing meaningful Key Performance Indicators and targets related to the SDGs.

    These aren’t just small companies. Brown-Forman is a global wine and spirits company managing brands such as Jack Daniel’s. Given the nature of their products, it makes sense that they are working on clean water (SDG 6), better agricultural practices (SDG 15), and clean energy (SDG 7). Because of their dedication to responsible consumption, they are also focusing on health and well-being (SDG 3).

    Nike is using their platform to promote good health (SDG 3), not just consumption. At the same time, Nike’s athletes and advertising argue for gender equity (SDG 5).

    As one of the largest companies in the world, Microsoft is taking on several of the goals. Among the goals they are tackling are some of the more multi-faceted, complex issues such as sustainable communities (SDG 11), climate action (SDG 13), and strong institutions (SDG 16).

    In addition to these examples, industry leaders such as IBM, GM, and Kellogg have dedicated their considerable resources to the SDGs.

    How Bullhorn Approaches SDGs

    At Bullhorn Creative, we approach the 17 SDGs in two ways:

    1. What we do internally.
    2. What we do through our clients.

    Bullhorn’s purpose is to help mission-driven brands succeed and to be a responsible company through the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals. We donate our work to neighbors that share our values. By donating our time and work to organizations such as the Community Farm Alliance, Western Middle School for the Arts, TEDxCorbin, and The Opposite Shop, we have helped work towards eliminating poverty (SDG 1), providing access to quality education (SDG 4), providing decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), and expanding industry, innovation, and infrastructure (SDG 9).

    We are a certified B Corporation, one of Kentucky’s first. As a B Corp, we’re proud to have taken many steps, as an office and as coworkers, that address the SDGs, as well. We monitor our energy usage and waste and recycling practices, using less any time we can. Even though we’re based in a state with a coal-dominant power generation mix, we purchase half renewable electricity through Arcadia Power. These steps help to show a demand for affordable and clean energy (SDG 7).

    By ensuring fair, equitable policies for everyone who works at Bullhorn, including a non-gender biased health insurance plan, and paid maternity leave in a state where doing so is both not required and often rare, we address gender equality (SDG 5).

    Bullhorn Helps Organizations Adopt & Communicate SDG Practices

    As a creative firm, Bullhorn helps companies adopt and communicate their dedication to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Nothing broadens Bullhorn’s impact more than being hired by organizations that are directly affecting the SDGs.

    Through our work with Texas Central Railway, we built a brand identity for an innovative transportation infrastructure company whose plans to build a high-speed rail in Texas directly address the goals of innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9).

    AppHarvest, an agtech startup based in Morehead, KY (and the only VC-backed company in Appalachia), plans to upend the global vegetable economy by using gigantic, energy-efficient greenhouses to grow non-GMO, chemical-free produce that ships a shorter distance, thereby using fewer fossil fuels. Despite what’s surely a run-on sentence, that’s one company preparing to address responsible consumption and production (SDG 12).

    Many of our clients’ activities can be tied to the SDGs. Lextran’s work is improving transportation infrastructure (SDG 9). The Children’s’ Advocacy Centers of Kentucky – is working on improving justice for kids (SDG 16). Berkshire Food Co-op and Good Foods Co-op – responsible food production (SDG 12). We love all our clients equally. But two SDG success stories rise above the rest in our client portfolio.

    Brown-Forman is one of the world’s largest spirits and wine companies. They have pushed their industry towards higher standards of responsible drinking for decades. They also orient their business values around the SDGs:

    Bullhorn was hired by Brown-Forman to create a way for people within the company to talk about responsibility in a way that is fun, inspiring, open to multiple interpretations, in-line with their brand strategy, and uses their brand guidelines. In addition, as a multinational company, the effort needed to translate across the world. The result? “Pause.” The word is open-ended. It is different for every person. It allows a person to consider if they should have another drink or get something to eat. It leaves room for a person to consider the implications of a message before submitting a brief. It leaves room to think about the legacy the company has in Louisville, in the industry, and across the world. This campaign directly contributed to Brown-Forman’s efforts relating to improving health (SDG 3).

    The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is the United States’ development finance institution. OPIC helps businesses invest in emerging markets and in 2017 decided to launch a new initiative dedicated to empowering women in developing countries. As a whole, women make up the world’s largest emerging market – an economic opportunity twice the size of India and China combined. Yet they are drastically underrepresented in the global economy and face a $300 billion shortfall in access to credit when compared to their male counterparts. In our research, we learned that women invest 90% of their money in their families and communities. Men? A mere 30%. So, Bullhorn came up with “2X,” a reference to the multiplier effect of investing in women (and a hat tip to the female chromosome).

    The initial goal for 2X was to mobilize $1 billion of investment for the world’s women. OPIC surpassed that goal in less than a year. The 2X brand was simple and incredibly effective in outshining its other staid government counterparts. Driven by the unmatched passion and relentless leadership of its supporters, 2X became a global symbol for women’s equality, bringing the G7 nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom) together to up the ante with a $3 billion combined goal. Women’s equality (SDG 5) and 2X are firmly, permanently tied.

    In Summary

    When Bullhorn takes on a branding project, we have one measurement of success: Adoption. We build brands for the purpose of use. If our clients’ employees, stakeholders, and audiences use and adopt the visual and verbal identities we build, we’ve succeeded.

    When those brands are built with an eye towards accomplishing global goals – the SDGs – we know we’re doing all we can. We’re proud of the work we’ve done in this space and look forward to doing much more.

    If you’re interested in learning how Bullhorn can integrate and communicate SDGs within your organization, contact our team today.

    Will Coffman
    Will Coffman

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