Business and the SDGs

Event Highlights Business Role in SDGs During UN General Assembly

 
 L-R: Gabriella Rigg Herzog (USCIB), Daniel Schwartz (Mastercard), Chris Gray (Pfizer), Shaun Mickus (J&J), Louise Kantrow (former Permanent Representative of the ICC to the UN)

L-R: Gabriella Rigg Herzog (USCIB), Daniel Schwartz (Mastercard), Chris Gray (Pfizer), Shaun Mickus (J&J), Louise Kantrow (former Permanent Representative of the ICC to the UN)

 

As governments gathered in New York for the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) from September 24 – 28, convened under the Presidency of Ambassador María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés(Ecuador), USCIB members highlighted the contribution and practical experience of the American private sector in advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

USCIB convened a side event, “Making, valuing and communicating SDG Impact: U.S. Business Signposts for the Next 5 Years.” The event was hosted by Deloitte on September 27th and gathered representatives from business, government and the UN system to share information and experiences in three areas critical to successful SDG action by businesses:

  1. Embedding sustainability into the core of company’s business models

  2. Measuring the impact of sustainability programs and initiatives

  3. Communicating impact to target audiences and key stakeholders

In 2019, the UN will consider the first three years of experience and implementation with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and consider possible changes.  USICB’s event made clear that, three years into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, substantial progress has been made thanks to the commitment and action of U.S. business, but also flagged areas where stronger links with business would enhance progress towards the SDGs.

Director of the Office of Global Change at the U.S. Department of State Thomas DeBass acknowledged that business will deliver most of the funding for the SDGs, so it follows that governments and the UN must do a better job communicating to business. “Only 10 percent of the financing to achieve the SDGs will come through official development aid and related government sources,” said DeBass. “The other 90 percent will come about through private-sector investment. But we are still trying to convince the 90 percent using the language of the 10 percent.  We need to reorient our sales pitch to speak the language of business.”

Meanwhile companies recognize the business case for embedding sustainability across their operations. In fact, Novozymes’ Head of Corporate Sustainability and Public Affairs Claus Stig Pedersen noted, “we don’t have a sustainability policy, we have a business system that adjusts to sustainable development.”

Chief Strategy Officer for International Development at Deloitte Wade Warren pointed out that, “achieving the SDGs could unlock an additional $12 trillion in business opportunities.”  Yet, while business enthusiasm for the SDGs and the business opportunities that the SDGs create, is growing, the full potential of collaboration between the private sector, governments and the UN system has not been unlocked.

Norine Kennedy, USCIB vice president for environment, energy and strategic international engagement, called for a practical approach to “inclusive multilateralism” that will animate business to further develop and deploy technologies, know-how and investment to advance the Global Goals.

On September 27, the UN also held the third high-level meeting on Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs), which was attended by USCIB Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation Mike Michener. The two previous high-level sessions on NCDs took place in 2011 and 2014. The meeting on September 27th served as a comprehensive review of the prevention and control of NCDs and focused on the theme of strengthening health systems and financing for the prevention and control of NCDs, on each country’s path towards achieving universal health care, including through sharing evidence-based best practices, scientific knowledge and lessons learned.” The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) UN Representative in New York Andrew Wilson represented the private sector. The outcome of this meeting was an adopted UN Declaration on NCDs. 

The UN General Assembly is the supreme governing body of the United Nations.  This year’s session that will continue throughout the year into spring 2019 will focuses on the theme, “Making the United Nations Relevant to All People: Global Leadership and Shared Responsibility for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Societies.”

USCIB will continue to work with member companies, governments and the UN system, to share expertise and foster partnerships to continue to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including through the Businessfor2030 web platform.

Read more here.

UN General Assembly 2018 and the Sustainable Development Goals

A look into upcoming highlights for UNGA week

 
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This year’s 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) will be held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from September 18-30. The 73rd session will host discussions around the general theme of debate: “Making the United Nations Relevant to All People: Global Leadership and Shared Responsibility for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Societies.” During the opening of the 73rd session, H.E. Mrs. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés of Ecuador, President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, laid out her priorities for the session. These include gender equality, migration and refugees, decent work, environmental action, people with disabilities, UN revitalization, and peace & security. She also spoke about the 2030 Agenda, mentioning that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are “best measured by its impact on the well-being of the world’s people”. She continued to say that the impact of the SDGs “is ultimately what makes the United Nations relevant and valuable to the world.”

To understand the impact of the SDGs on people and business, United States Council for International Business (USCIB) will be leading an event, hosted by Deloitte, on September 27. The event, Making, Valuing and Communicating SDG Impact, will seek to measure the impact of the SDGs on US business and how companies are embedding SDGs into their everyday process. During the event, the platform Business For 2030 will be highlighted as an innovative and accessible way to present specific examples and approaches to the SDGs, embedding the cases in the SDG language itself. USCIB member companies, government, and other stakeholders, will attend the event to consider how American business can make an impact in embedding SDGs in their business operation, and options to strengthen international cooperation and business engagement for the SDGs.

The General Assembly will also feature sub-events specifically focused on driving progress toward the SDGs, namely Global Goals Week and Climate Week NYC.

Global Goals Week is a week long series of events starting on September 22nd focused on making progress toward the SDGs. The week will include events such as 2018 Concordia Annual Summit, 2018 Global People’s Summit, Sustainable Development Impact Summit, Global Day of Action and more. This event presents the chance for representatives from businesses, governments, academic institutions and NGOs to engage in a variety of panel discussions, exhibitions and seminars.

Climate Week NYC will be held from September 24-30 in New York City, and is organized by The Climate Group along with the United Nations and the City of New York. Climate Week NYC will host many high-level stakeholders with the objective to create policies around climate action to combat climate change. The week will host over 160 affiliate events in a variety of formats, in hopes of creating an open dialogue to drive awareness and advance debate against climate change.

 

Read more about UNGA here.

Read more about UNGA events here.

Business for 2030 Platform Welcomes New International Partners

An event to celebrate the internationalization and expansion of Business for 2030

 
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As governments, international agencies, business and other stakeholders converged on New York for this year’s High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations July 9 – 18, the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) hosted a Businessfor2030 dinner on July 16. The dinner was co-organized with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), ICC United Kingdom, ICC Switzerland and the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and brought together business, UN organizations and governments to highlight private sector action and achievements towards sustainable development, showcasing the Business for 2030 website as a partnerships resource and source of SDG business action examples.

The dinner celebrated the expansion of the Business for 2030 platform. Along with a revamped logo and homepage, the platform welcomed three new content partners—ICC United Kingdom, ICC Switzerland and IOE. These new partners aided in kickstarting the “internationalization” of the platform through the inclusion of case studies that showcase how private sector entities around the globe are working to deliver the UN Global Goals. USCIB is excited to have new content partners that share the Businessfor2030 vision of diversity and partnership as a resource to advance SDG implementation. The new partners feel the same way:  

We are excited about working with the Businessfor2030 initiative to showcase the important role that the private sector plays in supporting the SDGs, and use it as a platform to promote good corporate governance. – ICC UK
Partnerships are key for reaching the SDGs. Neither companies, nor governments or civil society can afford to work in silos anymore. Companies need to work together and with stakeholders like governments and affected communities to address systemic challenges that one player will not be able to address systematically alone. I am looking forward to connecting the dots through this cooperation and facilitating partnerships for a better implementation of the SDGs. – IOE President Erol Kiresepi
The UN SDGs are a unique reference system to work for a more sustainable world. ICC Switzerland is enthusiastic to showcase the contributions of Swiss companies to these activities. Such examples strengthen the trust in business to actively cooperate. – ICC CH

The push to internationalize the Business for 2030 website coincides with strong business commitment to advance the SDGs around the world. Speaking at the dinner, new Secretary General of ICC John Denton issued a challenge to the international community to unleash business resources and knowhow to attain the 2030 objectives across economic, social and environmental areas.  “We need to help people understand the power of working with the private sector,” emphasized Denton.  Kris DeMeester, representing the International Organization of Employers, underscored the broad commitment of employers all over the world to advance sustainable development through employment, in the workplace and working closely with other social partners.

“Three years after the launch of the SDGs, we continue to take seriously that all companies, all sectors must engage to deliver on economic, environmental and social progress,” stated USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson in his opening remarks. “No company can sit this out.  We commend our own members for having embraced the SDGs and moved forward to embed them not only in corporate responsibility programs, but increasingly across aspects of their planning and investment.”

Partnerships are key to achieving the SDGs and the Business for 2030 platform is a strong example of this. By working together with multiple organizations, the platform aims to expand and increase business action for the SDG around the world while showcasing to the UN and public sector what business has done for the Global Goals.

The three new partners join Businessfor2030 content partners ICC, Business Call to Action (BCtA), The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA).

The Business for 2030 website may be hosted by the United States Council for International Business, but it is an initiative of more and more businesses around the world in their efforts to achieve the SDGs.