The UN Sustainable Development Goals and their relevance to construction

UN Sustainable Development Goals
The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals

CIOB president Mike Kagioglou explains how the targets adopted by UN members in 2015 have continuing relevance for the global construction industry.

The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were created through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations members in 2015.

Their aim is to achieve “peace and prosperity for people and the planet”, while tackling climate change and threats to biodiversity. The SDGs highlight the connections between the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainable development.

Professor Mike Kagioglou highlights the following SDGs as having particular relevance to construction:

Goal 9

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation.

Goal 11

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Goals 13, 14, and 15

These are about climate change, conservation and biodiversity. “These are all areas where our work has an impact, where CIOB has already put in a lot of groundwork, notably in highlighting the new rules about biodiversity net gain.”

But he notes that all the 17 SDGs apply to construction in some way, for example:

Goal 1

End poverty in all its forms everywhere. “Are we sure that our supply chains are paying a living wage? Do the buildings we create reduce exposure of vulnerable people to climate-related extreme events?”

Goal 3

Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages. “Are the buildings we construct keeping the occupants safe? Is the infrastructure contributing to reducing deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents?”

Goal 4

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. “Education and learning are core to the CIOB and should be for all construction companies.”

Goal 5

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. “There are some good EDI initiatives tackling this, but what impact are we really making towards the SDG target of ensuring women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership
in our industry?”

Goal 8

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. “For example, the objective of modern methods of construction is not just about building faster, less expensively. It is about improving economic productivity.”

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