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The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide an ambitious, transformative and global framework to achieve a more sustainable future for all, by 2030. Adopted by all 193 UN Member States in 2015, the SDGs present the private sector with a tremendous challenge, and opportunity, to progress these shared global Goals.

The scale of this opportunity is outlined in the Business and Sustainable Development Commission’s Better Business, Better World report, which estimates that at least US$12 trillion per year in market opportunities could be realised by developing products, services and solutions that help to meet societal needs. The report also recommends that key stakeholders in all sectors will benefit from developing detailed ‘roadmaps’ to guide their sector’s shift to sustainable development in line with the SDGs.

Progress has been made in a number of areas as many countries have started to incorporate the SDGs into national plans and strategies.

However, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic there was broad recognition that the world is not on track to achieve the SDGs by 2030. The UN’s Global Sustainable Development Report, The Future is Now, states that despite initial efforts, countries are still far off achieving most of the 169 SDG targets. The report highlights that recent trends across the 2030 Agenda are not moving in the right direction, evidenced by rising inequalities, climate change, biodiversity loss and increasing amounts of waste from human activity.

The pandemic has disrupted progress on nearly all of the SDGs, in many cases reversing progress on Goals that were already not on track.

The UN has declared 2020-2030 as the ‘Decade of Action’ to deliver on the SDG agenda. The decade ahead will indeed by critical. The SDGs provide a ready-made global framework to recover from the pandemic and to build back better in light of the significant challenge that still lies ahead if the SDGs are to be achieved by 2030. Accelerating action: an SDG Roadmap for the oil and gas sector (Roadmap), developed in collaboration with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), identifies how both IPIECA and oil and gas companies can work towards a low-emissions future while contributing to a healthier, more prosperous world in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.