UNGA

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.

A Business Case for the SDGs

Using Data to Encourage Support for the Sustainable Development Goals

 
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As 2030 approaches, many companies are creating innovative ways to track progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while others are encouraging the transformation of the SDGs from a corporate social responsibility sector to an integral business process which can impact savings and returns.

Bechtel Corporation has gone a step further by developing a textual analytics framework to use data and metrics that can advance the business case for the SDGs. This framework would help a company transform their SDG practices from their corporate social responsibility and public relations departments into an instrumental aspect of their business practices.

Bechtel’s Global Head of Sustainability Tam Nguyen and his colleague Michael Yamoah, manager of sustainability insights and analytics, have recently written an article in EnvironmentGuru in which they present a case study highlighting the framework process using textual analytics to match business indicators with voluntary national review indicators to highlight different areas for potential project opportunities and risks related to the SDGs. The article goes into detail about the case study by discussing the challenge and approach and noted four key steps to developing the business case for the SDGs.

The new article follows an earlier blog post on June 20, 2017 about Bechtel’s approach to using metrics to advance the SDGs. The blog post focused on how using metrics to study the relationship between the SDGs and corporations would encourage innovation in business to effectively merge the SDGs into business practices.

During last year’s UN General Assembly (UNGA), USCIB organized a  Business Experts Roundtable on Data Analytics for SDGs. At the event, Bechtel presented this framework to encourage companies to shift from SDG reporting to developing a business strategy that consolidates SDGs into the entire business process. 

Bechtel’s innovative framework can help other companies achieve the SDGs and help to push the 2030 agenda forward for all people. The framework can allow businesses to help their bottom line by impacting their savings or returns through further innovation with the SDGs. Encouraging companies to adopt the SDGs into their business practices is not just good for all, but also good business.

Read more on the case study in the original article here.