We are also running a new online workshop. I had the opportunity to teach about the SDGs, and I talked about the basic concepts and how to contribute. In the Q&A section, a student asked about the 17th partnership of the SDGs and how you use it?
One way of looking at the SDGs is to divide them into environmental, social and economic. This is commonly referred to as the wedding cake of the SDGs. No society is greater than the environment, and the economy is the engine that sustains society. Therefore, it is difficult to carry out large-scale economic activities in a society where there is war. Where the environment is broken, such as in the desert, many people do not live. And at the top of that wedding cake is number 17, which does not belong to any of the three categories: economic, social or environmental. It is because No 17 unites those three concepts.
This partnership means that the UN promotes partnerships between countries and between companies and individuals. In the economy, the SDGs are most relevant to the value chain. In the economy, supply chains go from raw materials to processing, to the shelves, to the consumer. This is, as the name suggests, the connection of goods.
In contrast, the value chain is, as its name suggests, a link of value. Value includes the flow of goods and the value of the process by which those goods are produced. This value means, for example, whether the working conditions of factory workers are decent or whether raw materials such as cotton are made in an environmentally friendly way. It would be difficult for an ordinary company to create a product taking into account, for example, whether the product is environmentally friendly or not. Therefore, it is necessary to collaborate with social and environmental NGOs, university researchers, etc., to produce products in an environmentally friendly way and in a way that considers the social values of producers and consumers. By moving from the supply chain to the value chain, the number of factors that a company needs to consider in the production of the same product has increased to such an extent that it is no longer possible to do it alone. This complication is why number 17, partnership, is so significant.
Countries where partnerships are working well are achieving SDG-like results.