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.