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Written by Natacha Wilson

Helping current and future leaders to drive positive change

Shaping our future – working towards sustainable goals

Sustainability has become a “buzz” word that may confuse many and unsettle others. In this article, I have added below links and initiatives that may resonate with you and demonstrate the importance of aligning our goals at global, national, organisational, and personal levels to shape a sustainable future. I will then introduce a framework for personal and organisational development that can increase our impact and ability to drive positive change. I will conclude by inviting you to join a virtual hub to explore best practice and exchange ideas on the best ways to aid this inner development and transformation.

On 25 September 2015, the United Nations published a document titled Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which contained 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) that aim to reflect and address the problems that every society faces. The goals aim to place Sustainability at the heart of our actions to encourage practices that promote well-being of People, the preservations of our natural resources in this Planet, the elimination of extreme poverty for a life of Prosperity for all, through the promotion of Peace based on human rights, justice, and rule of law, and through the Partnership we need to have across nations, sectors, and communities.

Progress has been made and yet the recent pandemic, climate events and geopolitical forces are forcing us to double our efforts. A recent evaluation report listing the progress towards the SDGs can be found here.

In the world of research, the European Union’s Horizon (2021-27), is a research and innovation programme which reflects the policy priorities of the European strategy and address major concerns and societal challenges shared by citizens in Europe and elsewhere. The new EU research and innovation programme will have a budget of around €95.5 billion for 2021-2027. This includes €5.4 billion from Next Generation EU to foster recovery and make the EU more resilient for the future, as well as an additional reinforcement of €4.5 billion.

In the United Kingdom, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) five-year strategy, Transforming Tomorrow Together 2022 to 2027, aims to harness the full power of the UK’s research and innovation system to tackle large-scale, complex challenges. The programme is split under five strategic themes which are Building a green future, Building a secure and resilient world, Creating opportunities, improving outcomes, Securing better health, ageing and wellbeing, Tackling infections with clear links to the SDG themes.

At organisational level, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has encouraged businesses to account for their ethical responsibilities in several different ways. Many businesses integrate their CSR efforts into their wider business strategy and measure impact on an economic, societal and/or environmental levels.

The growth of Social Enterprises and B-Corps have also demonstrated an interest in running businesses with a social or environmental purpose. In 1986, Patagonia became the first major clothing brand to donate 10% of profits to grassroots eco-activists. In 2002, the CEO of Patagonia, formed “1% for the Planet” to encourage other companies to make the same pledge. Chouinard took that commitment a step further in his September 2022 announcement that “the earth is now our sole shareholder.” His family transferred all company voting stock (about 2% of overall shares) to the Patagonia Purpose Trust, which will ensure that Patagonia keeps operating according to its values of social responsibility. The Chouinard family donated the other 98% of Patagonia to the Holdfast Collective, a new non-profit that will receive any profits the company doesn’t need for internal use and decide how to invest it to combat climate change.

Making an impact: How can we develop the skills and tools we need to shape our sustainable future?

When we really must, we can innovate to meet big challenges. We proved that with the Covid 19 vaccine – a lesson in transformative change.  Do we need another crisis to be able to respond with such “positive force”? What can we do to speed up our positive actions, drive change to solve societal challenges, and work towards the Sustainable Development Goals?

 Are they questions for only a few leaders, or do they affect every one of us? 

These questions and the quest to support talented researchers, leaders, innovators, and game changers are at the heart of what I do at Cambridge Insights.

I have been focusing on the ideal skills, mindset and wisdom needed to drive exponential change to solve societal challenges at local, national, and international levels.

In my search, I have identified evidence-based research and initiatives that have inspired me to join two global networks. The first one is The Global Compassion Coalition which mission is to build a world based on compassion where people and nature are cared for and supported so that both can thrive and prosper.

The second is a project focused on a list of skills and attributes we need to develop, individually and collectively to increase our positive impact towards a sustainable future. This project has led to the development of a framework listing “Inner development goals” (IDGs) needed to drive positive change. I’d like you to get involved with this project, I’ll explain how later in this article. 

What are the Inner Development Goals (IDGs)?

The Inner Development Goals (IDGs) are the skills and behaviours that are required for us to drive change and work towards solving societal challenges towards positive economic, social, and environmental Impact. The IDG framework stems from recent evidence-based work from a Scandinavian University (ADD SOURCES).

 There are 23 IDGs categorised under 5 groups: 

Being – Relationship to self

 Cultivating our inner life and developing and deepening our relationships to our thoughts, feelings and body help us be present, intentional, and non-reactive when we face complexity.

Thinking: cognitive skills

Developing our cognitive skills by taking different perspectives, evaluating information, and making sense of the world as an interconnected whole is essential for wise decision-making.

Relating: caring for others and the world

 Appreciating, caring for, and feeling connected to others such as neighbours, future generations or the biosphere helps us create more just and sustainable systems and societies for everyone. 

Collaborating: social skills

To make progress on shared concerns we need to develop our abilities to include, hold space, and communicate with stakeholders with different values, skills, and competencies.

Acting: driving change

Qualities such as courage and optimism help us acquire true agency, break old patterns, generate original ideas, and act with persistence in uncertain times.

Understanding the areas for self and organisational development can help us increase our positive impact, towards sustainability and related goals as highlighted at the start of this article.

This is a journey current and future leaders need to embark on and yet many questions remain. Where to start? Which learning and development programmes can enable this “inner” transformation at individual and organisational level? Would it be better to focus on key areas identified in the IDG framework? How to embed these skills and behaviours in existing development initiatives?

How to get involved and share knowledge with others working towards the SDGs?

To answer these questions and share best practice, I have set-up the Insightful Leadership and Innovation hub. The hub offers a space to discuss the latest developments in transformative leadership and responsible innovation to shape sustainable futures. This is hosted in a LinkedIn group called Cambridge IDG Insightful and Innovation Hub which is free to join.

 It’s a place where you can share best practice and tools to support the personal and professional development of current and future leaders to drive positive change, responsible innovation, and shape sustainable futures in support of the Sustainable Development Goals. There will be many ways to participate in the group and share your views and experience.

The Hub will offer online events and discussions at regular intervals as well as links to relevant books, academic papers and initiatives demonstrating best practice in insightful leadership and innovation. 

If you have any questions or would like to talk to me about the IDGs, please contact me.

For more information check these links:

IDG framework https://www.innerdevelopmentgoals.org/framework

SDG Progress report https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2023/

Join the Hub on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/groups/9355382/

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About Natacha Wilson

Natacha Wilson, founder of Cambridge Insights, is a learning and development consultant and coach. She creates tailored development programmes, which combine 21st century skills, mindsets, and wisdom, to boost leadership capabilities and nurture innovative cultures. Her mission is to support transformational leaders and  “leaders in the making” increase their postive impact, solve global challenges and create a greater world.

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