Business and the 2030 Agenda: A Review & Preview of Business Involvement in the First Steps Toward Implementation

In September 2015, the international community adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This globally agreed blueprint of commitments to reducing poverty and inequality, protecting the environment, and improving the lives of all expands upon the scope and objectives of the Millennium Development Goals, making them universally applicable to governments as well as other important societal partners, notably the private sector. The SDGs signify the global community’s most ambitious vision for sustainable development and their success will ultimately depend on securing the necessary means and resources of implementation.  For business, the 2030 Agenda entails a wide range of policy & market issues, along with a new world of expectations from governments and stakeholders alike. This provides a tremendous opportunity to identify new business opportunities and create new shareholder and stakeholder value.

After the 2030 Agenda and SDGs became operable on January 1, 2016, numerous meetings on implementation have taken place at the UN on specific themes, such as indicators, technology and partnerships, and on the monitoring and review processes, and more deliberations are foreseen throughout the year.  This intense and ongoing activity requires business attention and input to ensure that implementation reflects what the private sector can contribute and considers business priorities to help maximize business engagement and inputs. The achievement of the SDGs critically depends on the success of the multi-stakeholder implementation model, so it is essential to invite business into policy dialogues at the national and global levels to help co-create responses to social problems.

Since the UN has placed so much emphasis on a “revitalized” global partnership for sustainable development in the 2030 Agenda, it is imperative to assess and upgrade private sector engagement in the UN system as it takes its first steps toward implementation.  

In our new policy brief, we:   

  • Review relative engagement of the private sector in these first steps of implementation, including meetings of the Technology Facilitation Mechanism, the UN Statistical Committee, and the ECOSOC Partnerships Forum.  
  • Preview important next steps to come and opportunities for business to be involved, including at the following meetings and critical milestones:
    • ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development (April 18-21)
    • High-level Thematic Debate on Implementing Commitments on Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Financing (April 21)
    • The Science, Technology and Innovation Forum (June 6-7)
    • High-level Political Forum (July 11-20)

As we document, while there have been some missed opportunities to sufficiently involve business in the first steps of implementation of the 2030 Agenda, there are tremendous opportunities for involving business as a co-equal partner at both the global and national levels. This will require a renewal of the UN’s working methods and executing on the commitment to a renewed partnership for sustainable development, but the business community stands ready to play its part.