Join the world’s most important soccer game, solve the Global Goals and open new expanding markets. The next 1,000 days will decide if you lose or win the game.

By Erik Rasmussen, publisher of The Sustainian

This week it is all about scoring goals. The most featured and celebrated game takes place at the World Cup in Russia. But this issue focuses on the least talked about but most important goals that we should be yearning to score – at “The World Cup for Sustainable Goals”. This is a game nobody can afford to lose. It is not a match about a great trophy, but about the quality of life for the world’s population – and future generations. A game with these enormous stakes and consequences ought to be the most watched match ever. But while billions of people go crazy about the fight for an honorable trophy, only small crowds are tuning into the game that decides their own future.

This issue focuses on the least talked about yet most important goals that we should be yearning to score – at “The World Cup for Sustainable Goals”.

Why is that? Because very few know about the Global Goals. Most people have never heard about the goals – shortened to “SDG” (sounding more reminiscent of a disease). However, among converted sustainable corporations they are well known and referred to as the new golden standard for the business of tomorrow. Politicians either embrace or disregard them depending on what suits their own political goals. But outside these circles, the SDGs mean nothing.

This week – more precisely June 23rd – it is 1,000 days since the Global Goals were agreed upon by 193 nations, and this is the perfect timing to check the status. The Sustainian has done so and the conclusion is clear: Without an urgent change of game plan and strategy, we will lose the game. The match has to move much faster and new players are desperately needed. The tournament is the longest ever – ending in 2030. But as in any game, it is necessary to have a determined start and command of the match. That goes too for the fulfillment of the 17 Global Goals. But unfortunately, the most important world game has had an alarmingly slow first period.

We have digested over 70 reports and 47 Voluntary National reviews on the progress of the Global Goals and assessed them based on 21 regional divisions. The result is depressing: Nowhere have the political leaders set up the necessary visions, strategies and policy frameworks to keep all the goals on track. There are no green spots on the world map today. At the current speed we will not meet the Global Goals and will lose the most important game for humanity. The questions is then, what and who should be the real game changers?

The new game changers

If we listen to three of the world’s most prominent “mindsetters”, entrepreneurs, and corporate leaders there is no doubt: The business leaders must become the new game changers. They have the skills, influence and self-interest to take the lead during the next 1,000 days – to demonstrate and communicate why and how it is possible to win the game for a sustainable future, even though we are far behind after the first period. These leaders are the author, columnist in New York Times and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman, the solar energy entrepreneur Bertrand Piccard who flew around the world in a solar-driven airplane and the CEO of Unilever Paul Polman – the ”Cristiano Ronaldo of the The World Cup for Sustainable Goals”. In the two previous issues, Thomas Friedman and Bertrand Piccard explained why only greedy leaders and business explorers can drive transformational change and accelerate the process. In this edition, Paul Polman strengthens the message.

He urges business leaders to become sustainability activists and step into the leadership void left by politicians and post-war institutions. In the interview, Polman explains why and how business leaders can de-risk politics – how the corporations must follow higher missions than just serving the needs of shareholders and instead, integrate purposes like education, food security or sustainable products etc. In other words: we must expand the role of business. This will be a win-win game because sustainable solutions are set to create the biggest and fastest emerging markets in the next 10 years.

It is not just a matter of expanding the role of business and winning new markets. It deals with the future of our civilization as we know it today. One example: A study from May 2018 published by the National Academy of Sciences, documents that there is a 35% risk that concentrations of emissions will exceed even the most severe scenarios projected. Carbon emissions will most likely increase much more than expected, especially since we are producing and consuming more than was ever accounted for in previous forecasts. Several reports therefore conclude that the coming three years – or 1,000 days – will be crucial for the achievement of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

This will be a win-win game because sustainable solutions are set to create the biggest and fastest emerging markets in the next 10 years.

The sum of all the recent scientifically-backed warnings may soon justify a state of emergency for the planet. We at The Sustainian however, prefer to call it a state of urgent innovation, i.e. connecting and scaling the best available and sustainable ideas and solutions from around the world. There’s no denying it, we have to deliver the fastest industrial revolution ever.

Join the team

And this calls for strong and daring leadership. The leaders we need are the ones that, over the next 1,000 days, can make a significant difference to the world as well as their own companies. Such symbiosis will enable a true win-win situation not only for business but for people and the planet.

Sustainia will play its part. Since 2009 Sustainia has prepared for the mission. Together with our partners including the UN Global Compact, we have analyzed and mapped thousands of opportunities and solutions from all over the globe. They are all connected and presented in our Global Opportunity Explorer. Our conclusion is crystal clear: even the biggest global risks can be turned into exciting ventures and prosperity – provided we act fast, focused and coordinated. Therefore, we feel a strong obligation to reveal how a 1,000-day business leadership can turn the 17 Global Goals into 17 innovation hubs. If we succeed, such a triumph will be remembered as the most pivotal and fastest industrial revolution ever.

Our ambition: Within this year we will have around 1,000 committed players in “The World Cup for Sustainable Goals”.

The Sustainian is the first important step to building a team of committed players that can act as role models – being the future stars – in the “World Cup for Sustainable Goals”. With The Sustainian we want to connect, commit and communicate best sustainable practice from all over the world, providing exchange of solutions and ideas, and update our “players” with new trends and opportunities of what seems to be the most expanding markets in the years to come.

Our ambition: Within this year we will have around 1,000 committed players in “The World Cup for Sustainable Goals”. Next week another one of the world’s greatest sustainable profiles will provide a step-by-step guide to the new market reality. So sign up today and get access to advice from some of our closest allies – and those who already have committed themselves.

Why you should join

“The Sustainian is an important market guide for many of our market managers and could be an integrated part of our leadership programs.”

Mads Nipper
CEO, Grundfos


“The Sustainian moves us forward at a very different level than we’ve done before. It has a very important role to play… to bring partnerships together, share best practices, and help each other with the challenges we will face along the way.”

Paul Polman
CEO, Unilever


“What Sustainia is doing is essential. You are not only doing the right thing, you are doing the only thing that can really make a difference that can get scale. Just wish you could be multiplied.”

Thomas Friedman
Journalist, author, three-time Pulitzer prize winner


“The Sustainian is a new kind of strategic tool that inspires and provokes us to rethink the market opportunities.”

Claus Stig Pedersen
Head of Corporate Sustainability and Public Affairs, NovoZymes


“Sustainia has built a unique and inspiring platform for sustainable opportunities and solutions. We look forward to working with Sustainia and together accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Michael Møller
Director-General, UN Office Geneva


“UN Global Compact has been a close partner with Sustainia for several years. We are impressed by their approach and consider Sustainia as a strong ally in our joint mission of turning global goals into local business, which they have demonstrated in the annual Global Opportunity Reports and in the Global Opportunity Explorer.”

Lise Kingo
CEO, UN Global Compact


Erik Rasmussen is founder and Executive Chairman of Sustainia. From 1989 to December 2016 Erik held the position as founder and CEO of the house of innovation, Monday Morning. Erik has been elected one of the world’s 100 most influential journalists by World Economic Forum, has been a member of the International Media Council, and was recently awarded the prestigious Danish Publishing Prize for his influence on a generation of Danish journalists.