request our brochure

The Inner Development Goals are bringing introspectiveness to sustainability

April 10, 2024

In recent years, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have entered the political and corporate agendas as guiding lights towards more sustainable and fairer practices. The 17 goals outlined by the United Nations are based on external solutions, linked to engineering, economics, conservation, medicine, etc., and while this approach is important, a new movement is emerging to complement the SDGs: the Inner Development Goals (IDGs). The IDGs invite people and organizations to take a more introspective angle, taking into account the role of human behavior on global development challenges, and reminding them that in order to change the world, they must also change themselves. 

The idea of looking inside ourselves for answers is far from new – in fact, throughout history, indigenous communities, spiritual gurus, and philosophers have been very familiar with this concept. Yet, the application of the Inner Development Goals comes from aligning this introspectiveness to the rethinking of the exterior world of human progress, and thus getting a clearer-eyed view of why it’s faltering. For example, looking at the issue of poverty, orthodox economists may explain that it still exists because of low economic productivity, weak operating environments, lack of capital investment or state corruption; but advocates of the Inner Development Goals may add an extra factor that explains the persistency of this problem – the societies of the Global North, that prefer to hoard wealth rather than share it. Given this new view, one may understand that selfishness, greed, and apathy are also significant hurdles to overcome, and for that, a spiritual and cultural transformation is necessary. 

The Inner Development Goals focus on five core dimensions: being, thinking, relating, collaborating, and acting. These dimensions emphasize skills like communication, co-creation, trust and mobilization. However, its framework is descriptive instead of prescriptive, that is, its goal is to highlight the need for closer attention to our inward development for long term human progress, and not to map out a prescriptive plan. In that sense, the term ‘goals’ doesn’t carry the same intent as the one on the SDGs acronym: it works as a nod to it, but it’s not attached to measurable targets. 

Some companies, such as IKEA and Google, are already incorporating Inner Development Goals into their practices, recognizing that, in these changing times, what made them successful so far won’t necessarily make them successful going forward. However, there have been some challenges in this implementation, from making the concept relatable to different sorts of people, to prioritizing inner development amidst other business concerns. To fix this, leaders must invest time and attention in cultural transformation and inner development. And the fact is, despite the challenges, there is a growing recognition of the importance of introspection in business leadership. 

Source: Positive News