There’s an enormous gap between saying and doing. It’s easy to pledge societal transformation, but the challenge and reward is in making those changes happen. Certainly, there can be no greater reward than our company goal: to improve the lives of three billion people a year by 2025.
Philips is a private sector company committed to delivering innovation that improves lives, because at our core, what we care about is people. This is why it’s natural for us to commit to the forthcoming UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which we believe are critical to improving the health and sustainability of our planet and everyone on it.
The SDGs are designed to encourage partnerships between governments, the private sector, NGOs, community groups, social entrepreneurs and academia to implement a new path forward for the development agenda. From 2015, post Millennium Development Goals, partnership is the key to making a meaningful impact on the state of the world.
As an organization, there are three SDGs we can impact best: Goal 3 ‘to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being at all ages’, Goal 7 ‘to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all’ and Goal 12 to ‘ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns’.
Starting with Goal 3, it’s clear how it aligns with our key business of delivering healthcare solutions, innovation and services that ensure healthy lives for all. We are proud of the many collaborations we have made in this space already. One example is teaming up with local government and health providers in Kenya to create Africa’s first Community Life Center, designed to provide primary healthcare in a safe environment. Another is how the Philips Foundation is working with UNICEF and the International Red Cross to ensure the best of our healthcare innovation and expertise brings lasting benefits to those in need, especially women and children.
Still within this goal of promoting well-being, we’re also raising awareness of general medical issues, creating collaborative campaigns that encourage people to look after their health which will, in turn, reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases around the world.
Onto Goal 7, and how Philips can help ‘ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all’. Because the facts are these: thirty eight percent of the world’s population still cook and heat homes using traditional – and often unsafe, unreliable and costly – methods, while in 2011, almost one in five of the world’s population did not have access to electricity.
Philips is not only committed to bringing light to such communities in need, but we are doing so in a sustainable and community-centered way. In the coming years we will have helped develop over 500 Community Light Centers across Africa and 30 in Latin America, where solar-powered LED lighting technology will transform communities. There’s a huge extra benefit from this technology, too: the Philips solar LED lantern means families will not get burned by or sick from smoke inhalation from indoor kerosene lamps and wood fires.
Finally, by 2050, the global population will rise to more than nine billion people, and we need to think about ensuring a healthy planet for these people now, before it’s too late. As such, we are completely committed to Goal 12 – ‘to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns’. We know businesses must lead the transition towards smartly utilising resources, before enabling consumers to do the same. Not only is Philips focused on how we can reduce our own footprint, we are also innovating to deliver business models that reduce waste and lower consumption. For example, we are actively refurbishing medical systems, giving them a second life and (when compared to new equipment) reducing CO2 emissions, energy and raw materials. We’re also forming partnerships with cities such as Buenos Aires, converting more than 70% of its street lights to LED technology, which both reduces energy costs by over 50% and also gives a significant reduction in CO2 emissions every year.
The UN’s SDGs want to make the world a better place for everyone, and we are proud of how Philips can be part of this, and of how our employees, customers and partners share the same commitment.
We encourage all organizations, public or private, for-profit or not-for-profit, to join up to the SDGs with us. We must push each other, break through barriers, ensure we are the generation that continues the great journey started by the Millennium Development Goals.
If we do this, we will make a lasting and positive impact on our planet and the people on it - exactly what improving lives at Philips is all about.
Walter van Kuijen
Head of Business to Government and Enterprise Account Management at Royal Philips
Walter van Kuijen started his career at Philips in 1992 as a Marketing Specialist at Philips Industrial Electronics in the Netherlands. After further work in Product Management, Sales and Service and Marketing Management for Philips Medical Systems, Walter became the Director of the Sales and Services District Netherlands in 2001.