United Nations, September 28 – There is now a rising global tide for private sector-NGO-government partnerships and collaboration to address major social issues.
It was manifest during the UN Private Sector Forum 2015 on Saturday, and its spirit carried over to the major addresses by national leaders there today.
More than 300 CEOs, heads of state and civic society leaders and UN officials attended the Private Sector Forum to discuss the future role of business in implementing the UN’s 17 new Sustainable Development Goals. They heard an array of support for that mission from opinion leaders including:
High level support
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon – On implementing the SDGs: “Today we begin tomorrow”. On a stronger commitment to such partnerships: …“mobilize the global business sector as never before.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel – reflecting on the success of the past 15 years (mainly the UN Millennium Development Goals) and her optimism for the success of the SDGs: “companies are critical to this.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg - illustrating the win-win for companies applying core competencies to global social problems, he announced Facebook’s commitment, with the global Connectivity Declaration coalition, to make universal internet access a reality in the next decade: “For every ten people who get connected to the internet, one gets lifted out of poverty.”
Paul Polman, Unilever CEO – citing the need for companies to improve their transparency and earn increased trust, and then reporting on the rapid growth of corporate carbon pricing (the latter a Global Compact priority): “The cost of [companies] not acting is greater than acting”.
Early 2030 SDGs advances – fast out of the gate
The UN Private Sector Forum was also the venue for announcement of several substantive early advances related to the SDGs:
. The just-launched Business Action Pledge in Response to the Refugee Crisis which has already generated several new commitments and partnerships for educational opportunities, job training and healthcare for refugees -- as well as funding for refugee aid organizations in war-torn countries.
. Some 35 corporate commitments to benchmark new sustainable development action programs such as combatting corruption, gender equality in the workplace and strengthening healthcare services in Least Developed Countries.
. The launch of the “SDG Compass” – developed jointly by the Global Reporting Initiative, the UN Global Compact and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development – a guide for private sector development of SDGs strategies, especially through their core business activities.
This momentum for collaboration carried through to today’s General Session as embodied in President Barack Obama’s commitment and entreaties: “I am committing the United States to achieving the sustainable development goals … [we must] galvanize collective action … together we can erase extreme poverty [and] we can roll back the pollution that clouds our skies.”
Business in Society, @Biz_in_Society reports regularly on CSR and sustainable development in a variety of social and legacy media. John Paluszek, executive producer, is also senior counsel at Ketchum