“Get the word out there.”
These five words sum up what mass communication is essentially for. The media relentlessly keeps the public up-to-date on the latest news in every field imaginable. So, when it comes to advancing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the possibilities of what diligent media coverage can achieve are endless: from facilitating dialogue between the people, civil societies, business conglomerates and international organizations, to acting as a critical watchdog over the government, and more importantly, shining a light on Best Practices of those effectively aligning with the goals.
Advancing Sustainable Development Goals
Pursuant to its understanding of the media’s key role in sustainable development, the United Nations – which set the 17 SDGs in place – formed the SDG Media Compact back in September 2018. Indian media houses form a small minority of the SDG Media Compact.
Mainstream media in India has been grossly ignorant of the SDGs, barring a few environmental issues that make headlines. However, independent media and portals like Down to Earth, Quartz, The CSR Journal, India Development Review and Better India are doing a phenomenal job of highlighting the newsmakers and stories relevant to the SDGs. This coverage is especially pertinent for responsible businesses and NGOs that seek to replicate the positive impact and scale of successful sustainable development projects.
The Indian subcontinent’s progress on the Global Goals is of special significance, not only because India signed the official UN declaration but also because the SDGs provide a powerful framework for India Incorporated to engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR). Even more interestingly, the CSR policy under section 135 of the Companies Act came into effect around the same time that the SDGs were formed.
CSR and the SDGs
There is so much interconnectedness in the thematic areas of SDGs and CSR in India that practically every CSR project today is aligned with at least one of the 2030 Global Goals. Responsible companies have already set for themselves individual goals for the year 2030 that will be achieved through strategic CSR. From becoming carbon-neutral and water-positive, ensuring that no child gets left behind in schooling, increasing employment via skill development to building hospitals for free medical treatment, there’s plenty of positive change to witness.
Yet, unless the media acts as the conveyor of Best Practices for both, the public and other companies who can benefit from the knowledge, these success stories will remain unheard. Indian media would do well to look deeper into the hinterland for stories of change that could inspire others to make the world more inclusive, equitable and sustainable by the time 2030 comes knocking.