Why Social Entrepreneurs and Impact Investors Should Vote
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Everyone should vote.
Today, I’m going to make the case for why social entrepreneurs and impact investors should. None of these reasons are intended to excuse anyone from engaging in this civic activity that is equal parts privilege and duty.
Fundamentally, government at all levels from the local school board to the White House (and, yes, I understand that as I write this immediately preceding the mid-term elections the president is not on the ballot) impacts the work we care about, devote our lives to and invest in.
The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals provide a list of 17 issues that draw the attention of social entrepreneurs and impact investors. These issues are all impacted by governments as much as by the efforts of entrepreneurs and investors. As you consider each vote you cast, weigh how it will impact these 17 areas:
Goal 1: No poverty
Goal 2: Zero hunger
Goal 3: Good health and well-being
Goal 4: Quality education
Goal 5: Gender equity
Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation
Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy
Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth
Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure
Goal 10: Reduced inequalities
Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities
Goal 12: Responsible production and consumption
Goal 13: Climate action
Goal 14: Life below water
Goal 15: Life on land
Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions
Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals
UN Sustainable Development Goals CREDIT: UN
It is tempting to assume that none of these goals relates to the United States, that these are developing world goals not relevant to wealthy America. Many in Flint, Michigan would argue that Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation is perfectly relevant.
Women tweeting the hashtag #metoo are arguing that Goal 5: Gender equity is a primary voting issue in America. Similarly, those in the #blacklivesmatter movement are reminding us that Goal 10: Reduced inequalities is as much a future discussion as a past one in America.
President Trump himself has made clear that discussions about America’s responsibility to address Goal 13: Climate action are topical. Similarly, environmental regulation is undergoing a change with the current leadership in the White House and EPA, suggesting that goals 14 and 15 Life below water and Life on land are also timely.
Social entrepreneurs and impact investors are leading efforts at deploying more renewable energy, from rooftop solar to utility-scale wind farms. A future of cheap and clean energy seems almost assured, but to ignore the government’s hand in the transition is laughable. Goal 7 is as urgent in the developed world as it is in the developing world.
It would be disingenuous to argue that these goals align perfectly with any political party. Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth highlights the tension implicit in the SDGs. What most struggling people want more than anything is a job–or a better job. There is a genuine risk that some well-intended efforts to ensure the dignity and safety of work can have the effect of reducing jobs at the margin. Still, work conditions and wages for some even in the United States are not acceptable. The government has a role in ensuring a healthy balance.
Anyone who claims to care about any of the SDGs, but especially those who are working to solve these problems as entrepreneurs and investors, should take the time to thoughtfully consider the impact of every vote cast on each one of the 17 goals.
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