From The Blog

Why Inner Work is Crucial to Sustainable Development

I frequently get asked the question; what’s the link between inner work and sustainability? How can a person’s transformation help us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? Well, I discovered this connection through my own personal journey into a more purpose-driven life. In this article, I want to take you through that journey and how I came to find sustainability, the SDGs, and more recently the IDGs, and the inter-connectedness.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy

Living a purpose-driven life

I used to live in the fast-lane. I was working hard with my head down. I didn’t get a chance to see the world around me. Until, unexpectedly, I was made redundant. What followed was a year long sabbatical during a pandemic. I was forced to go inwards and start work on my inner self.  A fantastic – eye-opening – transformation journey started. I suddenly saw the world I was living in and the challenges we face. Climate change, diversity & inclusion, mental health, profit-centred businesses… How had I been able to turn a blind eye for so long?

I began to hear my calling. I deeply wanted to make an impact. Be of service to others. To work for a cause. The more I delved into my authentic self, the more layers I removed, eliminating false expectations I had forced upon myself. I was stepping closer and closer to my purpose: help businesses and individuals become a force for good. I want to be part of the change-makers fiercely believing in sustainable development, in balancing profits with purpose. And I want to make a positive impact on people and planet.

“To heal our planet, we must heal ourselves first!”

The Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs

Now, let’s take a broader look at what’s happening around us. The SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. The target is to achieve the 17 SDGs by 2030, however we are seeing slow progress globally.

Honestly, this worries me deeply. Why do people not want to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts (SDG 13)? Or reduce inequality within and among countries (SDG 10)? Or ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns (SDG 12)? We all want to live. And we live in this world. So, what are we going to do about it? And why is this vital action not already happening?

Well, because we need human beings to change. It starts with USAnd we don’t want it to end by us. It’s within our capacity to do the inner work. To transform our mindset. To create new belief systems. We must move from ego system to eco-system. And fast.

We are already part of something so much greater than ourselves, but as human beings, we need to recognise this. We need to join forces. And collectively, we can work towards achieving the SDGs.

“New work is inner work” – Joana Breidenbach

The Inner Development Goals – IDGs

Now, we need to upgrade our mental and social operating system from ego-system to eco-system awareness. And for the that we need eco-system leaders – change-makers – who will take people on a journey from silo to a system thinking. This requires a deep transformation and a new leadership.

You might think, but how do we make this happen? How do we do the inner work?

My recent encounter with the IDGs – “Inner Development Goals” – blew my mind. Like-minded change-makers from different horizons were gathering together deciding to develop a transformative skills framework for sustainable development. A framework to help people do the inner work and accelerate the SDGs. The framework encompasses 5 categories:

  • Being – Relationship to self (like self-awareness, openness, and integrity)
  • Thinking – Cognitive skills (like critical thinking, long term orientation, and visioning)
  • Relating – Caring for others and the world (like humility, empathy, and compassion)
  • Collaborating – Social skills (like communication and co-creation skills)
  • Acting – Driving change (like courage and creativity)

The overall objective is to educate, inspire and empower people to become a force for change in society. And it truly is the only way to achieve the SDGs. Also, the IDGs can be used in all sectors: public, private, and education. Costa Rica is the first country to commit to implementing the IDGs across the public sector, followed by Rwanda. IKEA is implementing the IDGs across its organisation, and Harvard recently partnered with the IDGs.

“You cannot change a system unless you transform the mindset of the people part of the system.”


The goal is to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

8 years to go…

8 years to make an impact. 8 years to find your purpose and become a change agent. 8 years to do the inner work and find peace within to heal our planet.

We have 8 years to transform ourselves and the world.

Contact me if you want to find out more about the IDGs. And if you live in the UAE, I am starting the UAE hub for the IDGs. If you’re interested in joining a community of change-makers and impact-driven people, let’s chat. I’d love to hear from you.