Introduction: What Are The Sustainable Development Goals?
Set up in 2015, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 core tenets that were created as a guiding blueprint for global decision-makers. Some of these goals include fighting poverty and hunger, gender equality, affordable clean energy, reducing inequalities, as well as climate action. Each goal has its own set of targets that altogether contribute to implementing it. For example, two of the affordable clean energy targets call for doubling the improvement in energy efficiency, and promoting access to research, technology and investments in clean energy.
The United Nations and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) keep tabs on the SDGs and their implementation, and while some are meant to be continually self-improving over time, many are meant to be met prior to 2030. This has led to the 2020s being named ‘the decade of action’, as policy-makers and communities strive to meet the targets and goals on time. Timeline-wise, the SDGs are firmly set in the same push towards net-zero and global decarbonization – with activists and NGOs believing that the clean future we are fighting for can also come at the benefit of the UN’s development goals. These goals are in place to ensure that the future is fairer and provides opportunities for all to have access to a good quality of life.
Sustainable Future and Economic Growth Fueled by Lithium
Sustainability is often seen through the prism of climate change – that is, creating solutions that maintain economic growth and development without harming the environment. Yet, sustainability is far more than that. Sustainability is a movement that ensures that all actions we take as a society will have a positive impact in the future. As such, the SDGs are a pillar to the plans that EnergyX is enacting in the mining sector and the lithium supply-chain.
Lithium extraction and its associated operations have been linked to environmental and socio-economic pressures around the world. Considering the vast amount of lithium that is needed to meet global goals on clean energy and the associated fight against climate change – decision-makers cannot afford for lithium extraction to continue as “business as usual”. It is for this reason that EnergyX is disrupting the mining industry by creating technology that improves lithium yields and reduces environmental impacts. Realistically, the SDGs call for innovation and a change in the status quo – EnergyX is doing its part, but we are not the only ones.
Our lihium extraction technology is more efficient across the board compared to traditional methods, will positively affect the lithium supply chain by reducing bottlenecks in demand and reduce the environmental impact of lithium extraction (6, 12, 13, 15). In itself, the technology we are creating will offer opportunities to fast track access to clean energy and transport (3, 7, 11), while current collaborations in Bolivia will support their sustainable development mandate (1, 2, 4, 17).
This is not to say that EnergyX will meet every single one of the SDG targets, but more to highlight that if a young company with relatively modest means can have work towards such a range of goals. Within EnergyX we have a strong culture that fosters innovation and productivity through a diverse team with a wide range of academic and social background (Goals 5, 8, 9 , 10), imagine what a concerted effort across all sectors could yield!
Conclusion: Companies Must Become More Sustainable
You cannot reach sustainability goals without ensuring that the entire supply chain is itself sustainable. Governments can set policies, but companies need to be leading the change, and this has already begin to take hold as the Brookings Institution’s Kaysie Brown, Anthony F. Pipa, Krista Rasmussen, and Max Bouchet explain, “A growing movement of leaders across the [United States] is finding the SDGs to be the roadmap and policy framework to mobilize for progress on ambitious targets around inclusion, equity, and sustainability,” they continue, “Their incorporation into local and state policies, business and university strategies, and wide-ranging partnerships highlights how much the SDGs are rooted in U.S. values and ideals.”
But, if we are so interested in adopting the SDGs, why is that not translating to action? “Despite the growing wave of interest in Environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) investing, the reality is that progress to meet the United Nations SDGs has been slower going than expected,” says Dorothy Neufeld. Dorothy Neufeld points out in the World Economic Forum that “Roughly 38% of companies are aligned [with the SDGs] while almost 55% were misaligned or neutral. Meanwhile, just 0.2% of companies were strongly aligned.”
This is not enough for the world to intensify its shift towards a cleaner tomorrow. Global companies must do more – saying that they want to change the status quo is not actually changing the status quo. EnergyX shows what can be done when a dedicated group of professionals work together towards achieving the SDGs – and if we can do it, anyone can.