Through our initiatives and activities, we contribute to the advancement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development defined 17 SDGs in September 2015 that seek to address the world's greatest challenges. The SDGs build on the work undertaken through the Millenium Development Goals, but have a greater focus on the involvement of the private sector.

Read how we contribute to the SDGs in our Sustainable Development Report.


SDG1 No poverty

SDG1 calls for universal poverty eradication, while building the resilience of those in poverty, and reducing their exposure to climate-related and other social and economic shocks.

Poverty is more than a lack of income and resources to ensure a sustainable livelihood, it is also vulnerability to hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion, and a lack of participation in decision-making.

What is South32 doing to contribute to this goal?

We reduce poverty through direct employment, local procurement and the payment of taxes and royalties which enable the development of essential social and economic infrastructure.  As part of our Sustainability Policy, we commit to ‘Supporting employment and community practices which empower people to make choices and have control over their process of development as it affects their lives, beliefs, institutions, well-being and the lands they occupy or otherwise use’.

Our Community Investment Framework focuses on initiatives that alleviate poverty.  Examples of these projects are in our annual reporting and on this website.

SDG3 Good health and well-being

SDG3 aims to eradicate HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious diseases, major reductions in child and maternal mortality, reduction in non-communicable diseases, universal provision of healthcare and the reduction of deaths and injuries from traffic accidents.


Health is key to the attainment of sustainable development and is a leading measure of development success or failure. Major progress has been made to reduce malaria, tuberculosis, polio and the spread of HIV/AIDS. However, much more effort is needed to fully eradicate a wide range of illnesses.

What is South32 doing to contribute to this goal?

People’s health and safety, both our own workers and as well as those of our communities, is very important to us. Our daily work is managed through a comprehensive framework and our Care Strategy aims to limit exposures to safety and health risks. We run wellness programs to promote a healthy workforce and include community investment projects on malaria and tuberculosis reduction. Details of these projects can be found within our annual reporting.

SDG4 Quality education

This goal includes quality education provision for all, and access to technical and vocational training to support decent jobs and enterprise development.

Obtaining a quality education is the foundation of improvement to many people’s lives. Major progress has been made, for example achieving  equality in primary education for girls and boys. However, universal access to quality education for all is still  required.

What is South32 doing to contribute to this goal?

Internally, we encourage people to further their skills by supporting ongoing training and education, as well as developing through experience within our company.

We recognise that education, particularly in our local communities, is an important enabler for achieving positive economic outcomes, in terms of employment and provided services. Education is one of three pillars in our Community Investment Framework in both of our regions of operation.  Further information on our community education support is described in our annual reporting.

SDG5 Gender equality

This goal requires progress to be made on ending discrimination against women, an end to gender violence, and gender-equal opportunities for participation and leadership in political, economic and public life. 

Gender equality is a fundamental human right and ensures a more stable and sustainable world. Providing gender-equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making will promote sustainable economies and benefit societies more widely.

What is South32 doing to contribute to this goal?

We have a responsibility to ensure gender equality within our own company, as well as where we set conditions or influence externally.  Diversity is important to the culture of inclusiveness that South32 seeks to create, where everyone feels comfortable to bring their whole self to work and where each person’s unique differences are recognised, valued and celebrated.

We have set ambitious targets that focus on gender and ethnicity.  To achieve these targets, a number of initiatives have been implemented, including attraction of female engineers, closing the gender pay gap, redesigning work and a flexible work environment. Performance against these targets, as well as case studies of our initiatives, is provided in our annual reporting.

SDG6 Clean water and sanitation

This goal calls for universal access to drinking water and sanitation. It also seeks to address issues such as water quality, ecosystem services and climate resilience.

Water is a shared resource with high social, cultural, environmental and economic value. Despite this, there are many examples of mismanagement and water being undervalued. With climate change, increasing agricultural use of land and population growth, future pressures on water resources are likely to grow.

What is South32 doing to contribute to this goal?

Water is a critical resource for our operations. We recognise we are a significant user of water resources and have a responsibility to utilise water appropriately within the context of each catchment.  Our material water-related risks are assessed and managed through our risk assessment, planning and projects group.  We report where we have material water-related risks and how we are managing these risks.  This information is provided in our annual reporting.

SDG7 Affordable and clean energy

This goal aims for universal access to sustainable energy, including a substantial increase in renewable sources to the energy mix.  It also calls for doubling of energy efficiency measures.

Energy is a critical component to enable education, healthcare, job creation, food production, transportation, communications and technology. The link between fossil fuels and climate change also makes a managed and timely transition to clean energy essential.

What is South32 doing to contribute to this goal?

As a significant energy user and emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, we have developed a climate change strategy, which addresses how South32 can reduce our emissions through efficiency, substitution or new technology.  We have short-term targets on emissions reduction as well as a long-term goal of net zero emissions by 2050 in line with the global aims of the Paris Agreement.

Materials we mine, such as silver and aluminium, will be required in a clean energy world and we therefore have great opportunities to supply these materials in the pursuit of this goal.

SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities

SDG11 calls for adequate, safe and affordable housing and services, effective urban transport and reduced environmental impact of cities. In the face of a growing and continually urbanised global population, the challenge will be to allow cities to expand, while improving resource use and reducing pollution and inequality.

What is South32 doing to contribute to this goal?

We contribute to this goal in a number of ways, including our direct employment of people in cities, our engagement with local companies that operate in and contribute to cities, our investment in infrastructure and services, and the supply of key raw materials, including metallurgical coal, aluminium and silver.   We also increase environmental and social value from our operations and land holdings for those living in cities. For example, we have converted previously owned land into conservation, which in turn assists in resilience to climate change.

Our community investment strategy includes contributing to the sustainability of communities and while a number of our local communities are located in remote areas, ensuring these communities are successful without us is a key aim of our social closure planning.

SDG12 Responsible consumption and production

This goal aims to promote the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources at all times, and a reduction in waste.  To sustain the projected worlds’ population, product lifecycles will need to be circular and not linear.

What is South32 doing to contribute to this goal?

We continuously improve our product stewardship, including the safe handling and distribution of our commodities.  As part of our climate change strategy, we are working on becoming more efficient in our energy and water use.

The release of value from waste has been a theme of recent projects, including a third party making bricks from waste material at one of our South African operations.  This offers greater value from our resources, reduces waste and reduces future closure liability.

SDG13 Climate Action

This goal calls for rapid action to decarbonise the global economy in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. Climate change impacts include extreme weather events, threatened food production, access to water, biodiversity changes and potential impacts to health.  

What is South32 doing to contribute to this goal?

Our climate change strategy has three pillars: opportunity, resilience and emission reduction.  As climate change and its impacts are widespread and multifaceted, we have risks and opportunities in both preventing and adapting to climate change. Our work involves ensuring that the risks are minimised and that we position our company to provide and create value out of opportunities.

SDG15 Life on land

This goal requires quick and complete observation of all international agreements relating to the sustainable use of land, including conservation and protection. It also calls for sustainable forest management and measures to prevent desertification.

What is South32 doing to contribute to this goal?

Biodiversity is one of our material sustainability issues. As a mining company, we have a direct impact on land in terms of clearing and degradation, but also in terms of land improvement, conservation, offsets and rehabilitation. As a member of the International Council on Mining and Metals, we abide by the Mining and Protected Areas Position Statement.

We have developed a program called Intelligent Land Management, which recognises the value of biodiversity and seeks to utilise this in a way that increases environmental, social and economic value. This enables us to promote sustainable communities through unlocking land value. These initiatives, as well as the numerous projects we participate in to protect biodiversity, are described in our annual reporting.

SDG16 Peaceful and inclusive societies

This goal demands major reductions in all forms of violence, an end to abuse and torture of children, and the promotion of the rule of law at all levels, and a reduction of illicit financial and arms flows. This also encompasses addressing corruption, human rights abuses, bribery, tax evasion and conflict.  By providing a stable, transparent and inclusive society, the opportunities for people to participate fully in social, economic and political life are broadened.

What is South32 doing to contribute to this goal?

Our corporate governance framework is robust and we report annually via our Corporate Governance Statement, which is on our website. We adhere to the highest standards of tax transparency and publish annual tax reports in accordance with voluntary European accounting directives.  We also contribute to the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative through our ICMM membership.

As stated in our Sustainability Policy, we apply the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and voluntarily publish an annual statement in accordance with the UK Modern Slavery Act.  We are committed to continuous improvement in preventing modern slavery in our supply chains.

More detail on how we contribute to SDG16 can be found within our annual reporting.