Sustainable Development Goals: What are they, and how can we help to achieve them?

The recent #LHGmeetsSDGs virtual challenge - organized and supported by design thinking coaches of the Lufthansa Group (LHG) Impact Week community – connected LHG employees from around the world. Participants had the opportunity to reflect on their own consumption habits, identify opportunities for improvement and design innovative solutions. As the name suggests, the challenge focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations… but what exactly are the SDGs?


We had the great pleasure of hosting Marina Ponti, Global Director UN SDG Action Campaign, as our Guest of Honour during our virtual design thinking challenge. During the official opening of the event, she inspired our participants with a message of hope, but also with a strong call to action. “Never before in history – at least in our living experience – have governments, private sectors, and individuals had the opportunity to re-think the future,” Ms Ponti explained.


With less than 10 years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we are living in a “Decade of Action”. The SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere. There are 17 Goals that have been adopted by all UN Member States, and all sectors of society have been called up to mobilize for a decade of action on three levels: global action, local action, and people action. The aim of the people action, and indeed the #LHGmeetsSDGs challenge, is to generate an unstoppable movement pushing for the required transformations.


During Ms Ponti’s speech, she highlighted the two key principles underlying the 17 SDGs:


1.       These goals were and are universal: They apply to every government, every country, and every one of us, no matter how powerful or vulnerable the country is.

2.       Interconnection: If you want to eradicate poverty or fight for equality, you also need to look at the climate impact, gender equality, mobility, health, and education; everything is connected.


She stated, “…we need to re-think our societies and we need to make very deep transformations.” Since the goals were agreed upon in 2015, we have been hit with a global pandemic, which has severely affected almost every sector in society. It has highlighted inequalities, and other issues underlying our society, and shown us how our society and many of our systems were failing. “But at the same time, any moment of crisis in history always brings opportunity,” Ms Ponti continued.


We are now in the unique situation where we are not only encouraged, but forced to re-think our future. We have the chance to re-design entire sectors, such as mobility, energy, education, digitalization, and health. However, these opportunities are found on all three levels of action, not only on the global scale. Ms Ponti explained, “…as a campaign, [we] were always a great believer in the butterfly effect, which means everyone can start the butterfly effect that can have a ripple effect globally… the pandemic precisely showed us this – individual. Until we had a vaccine… the only strategy we had to help the pandemic was individual action… somehow, the people everywhere tool this individual action to scale and were able – some better than others – to… reduce the spread of the virus.


Ms Ponti continued to talk about how this model of individual action which has helped to slow down the pandemic, can be used “for changing our behaviours, changing the way we live, the way we travel, the way we consume, the way we produce, and the way we earn. So this is what we call – at the SDG action campaign - we are in a moment which is the turning point for people and the planet. And we believe that now, if we work together, we can really not just improve here and there, but make the transformative changes that are needed to be a more just and more sustainable society.


We would like to thank Ms Ponti for her contribution to our virtual challenge, providing our participants not only with an overview of the SDGs and linking them to the present situation, but more importantly, with a message of hope. We will continue to work toward the SDGs as individuals, communities, countries, and one world, to help shape a brighter future for not only ourselves, but the next generations.


Summary by Lyndal Moeller, Impact Week Marketing and Communications & Product Marketing Manager at Lufthansa Systems



Read more about the Sustainable Development Agenda: