Thanks to Claire Cullens and the team at the Norfolk Community Foundation, AG was honoured to attend the Oxfam Inequality Hearing in Norwich alongside a wealth of experienced public sector influencers. The event was part of a wider group of hearings taking place in 10 locations around the UK. Lord-Lieutenant for Norfolk, Lady Dannatt, MBE, addressed the audience with a wonderful speech to steer debate and reinforce the importance of tangible action to take forwards.
The Sustainable Development Goals identify the worlds greatest challenges, with the ambitious target of achieving them by 2030 in just 10 years time. The event hosted today in Norwich placed our local city on the map for the debate on how we tackle several of these goals through transformation in public services in particular.
The world’s richest 1% have more than twice as much wealth as 6.9 billion people
Oxfam explained on stage the role that they play in bringing the Global Goals to life through their work, addressing poverty, inequality, good work and economic growth amongst many others. One area of debate discussed taxation and the how systems that tax our society could be reimagined, so that wealth is distributed and services improved to meet the demand of an aging population. As a company with a base in Norfolk and in the deprived city of Great Yarmouth we completely understand the inequality challenges and see the divide in our own county.
We highlighted the value of education and the role of providing an holistic approach to learning, something that Sir Ken Robinson, British author, speaker and international advisor on education eloquently describes and creates a vision which we prescribe to. Certainly the SDGs and the wider work of achieving a sustainable natural system, whilst providing economic prosperity, requires diverse thinking that is hard to achieve in a narrow curriculum where specific subjects, topics and jobs are stigmatised over others. This is where we need to change the paradigm as the job roles of the future are yet to be created or defined but the challenges which business and wider society are tackling will need to raise a new generation which can take the fight to poverty and inequality. We recommend reading Sir Ken's fantastic book, The Element - A New View of Human Capacity, as much of our thinking derived from this influential book of insightful experiences with some of our most revered creative leaders.
Norman Lamb Health and Wellbeing Fund
Claire Cullens CEO of the Norfolk Community Foundation announced on stage their work with the former Liberal Democrat MP, Sir Norman Lamb. Sir Norman set up the fund supporting people in Norfolk, aiming to ensure equality, justice and human rights for those with mental health issues, people on the autism spectrum and those with learning disabilities. We heard stories today of children at school feeling anxiety about climate change, how a young family suffered in the absence of something we all take for granted, a washing machine, and how many others have found it difficult to find work based on where they live. These challenging topics amongst others inspired our debate around the Sustainable Development Goals and the power they have to enable communication from the young people on the streets to the governments in parliament to have a shared vocabulary.
That's where we believe the SDGs can achieve the most, creating a shared verbiage for all to understand and commit to so that collaborative action can take place where traditionally it could not. That's where we enter the fray as our work helps businesses to describe how they directly and indirectly positively and negatively impact the SDGs, how they can promote the positive impacts they have already and connect them with organisations which help to promote shared beliefs and values. In some cases these partnerships can lead to stimulate the creation of new jobs, funding, projects and even new products and services as leaders and investors alike recognise that the Sustainable Development Goals present the greatest opportunity for business growth in the next decade.
Putting politics to one side
Global Goal 17 pertains to partnership for the goals. It's the collective strength of humanity that will be able to overcome our greatest challenges. Today's event hosted a number of professionals working within the local public sector who described their challenges, ‘splitting up the cake’ that is, public funding, ensuring that the critical and most vital work is able to be done.
Outlined by the World Benchmark Alliance business industries directly impact every SDG on some level and therefore business plays a role to collaborate with the public sector to find solutions to these challenging social problems. Business has long been associated with the role of achieving scale based on being capable of fixing or reimagining the system for the benefit of customers. We believe that the SDGs and the rising challenges that the public sector are encountering can be solved through entrepreneurial thinking and business innovation to help ideate, support and create new systems that deliver natural, industrial and social system improvements.
This is where our latest work with the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce and the Norwich Business Climate Leaders group aims to bring businesses together around the shared topic of the environment and expand beyond to tackle the wider systemic social challenges that impact the environment. These challenges naturally align with the Sustainable Development Goals and our influence as independent stewards for the values and principles which guide our business to also guide action to build resilience and growth into the economy.
Where do we go from here?
"The gap between the richest and the rest, especially those living in poverty is out of control. While people at the top get influence, opportunities and power, people living in poverty miss out on the basics they need - like a decent education, healthcare, and jobs." - Oxfam. The notes taken from the 10 hearings across the UK will be curated along with videos interviews and other sources to create a document that will be presented at a parliamentary event. The objective is to inspire debate and formalise action locally through the hearings and nationally through changes to state processes.
What we have extrapolated from today’s hearing and the lessons learned will be formulated into our work with businesses across the world helping to unlock the potential of industrial competition in order to achieve the massive step towards creating a safer, more equal and happier society which benefits everyone. At the heart of our work we aim to understand what motivates the hearts and minds of the people who have created the organisations with which our economy relies upon, inspire informed debate and challenge our greatest minds to reform and redesign the systems that drive our economy.
Technical innovations help to speed up the process but it is culture that will ultimately move the wheels of change. Our audits, assurance reports and communications work centers around best sustainable practice which will now incorporate the information learned today and from the Oxfam report forthcoming later this year. If you are inspired by the events held by Oxfam and want your business to play a role in giving people the right to a decent and dignified life free from poverty or if you already operate inequality policies we want to help you to develop, connect and promote your work to a global audience.