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What is sustainability?

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Whether it is in the newspapers, on television, or on social networks, these days we constantly hear people talking about sustainability. There is still some confusion about the meaning of this word which, despite what we may think, does not only refer to environmental issues.
The RAE (Real Academia Española — Royal Spanish Academy) defines sustainability as: “particularly in ecology and economics, being able to continue over a long period of time without running out resources or causing serious damage to the environment.” In other words, sustainability consists of three pillars which, together and in a balanced way, drive economic and social development, and environmental protection.

These three axes (environmental, economic and social) are closely related and interdependent, such that the over-development of one of them triggers an imbalance in the system. An example of this, is the supply of textile products at very low prices (known as fast fashion) which enables consumers to have access to more items of clothing at a much lower price, but at the same time causes serious environmental damage: increased consumption, a bigger water footprint, greater waste generation, etc. Sustainability is concerned with these kinds of questions: encouraging a balance between economic, social and environmental development.

UN Sustainable Development Goals

For its part, the United Nations, defines sustainable development as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Our common future, World Commission on Environment and Development report, 1987).

Aware of the difficulties and urgency of facing up to this challenge, world leaders met in September 2015 to consider 17 global goals with specific targets which they are committed to achieve by 2030, and which aim to: eradicate poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for everyone.

The SDG sets as ambitious targets as possible, based on the commitments of all the agents involved, and they range from achieving universal literacy, through to gender equality, by way of the fight against corruption. The UN has appealed to the whole of society, including the public, private and academic sectors and non-profit organizations, to achieve the 17 goals to transform our world by 2030.


Business sustainability: How is MAPFRE contributing?

MAPFRE’s commitment to sustainability is displayed in its Sustainability Plan and through the work of Fundación MAPFRE. The company also has its own Corporate Map of SDG, which prioritizes MAPFRE’s commitment to the 9 sustainable development goals through which it can make the greatest contribution in its activity as an insurance company.

MAPFRE promotes the SDG in all countries where it operates, and does so for all its stakeholders. Its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals is not made with the aim of promoting the business, but rather to contribute to achieving a world that is more inclusive, fairer and more equal.


What can you do?

If you want to find out how you can contribute to sustainable development, you can download the UN’s SDGs in Action app, which helps users to keep up to date, participate and launch their own initiatives to contribute to achieving these goals.