The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) were created to measure progress and achievements towards a sustainable future through a series of 17 goals adopted by the UN General Assembly under the moniker Agenda 2030. During this year’s annual UN High-Level Political Forum, held from July 10 – 19 at UN headquarters in New York, the UN Secretariat worked with member states to discuss paths to implementation and to track progress on the SDGs. USCIB and its members were on the ground during the HLPF highlighting the role of engaging all business sectors to advancing environmental, economic and social cooperation for the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
USCIB Vice President for Product Policy and Innovation Mike Michener supported USCIB’s longtime partner, the International Agri-Food Network (IAFN), on their event focusing on SDG2, Ending Hunger, during their side-event, Agriculture and Food Day on July 13. IAFN partnered with leading organizations to host this event to celebrate, discuss, negotiate, analyze, and brainstorm around the role of the agricultural and food sector in relation to the implementation of the SDGs. Agriculture and Food Day summarized the importance of targeting the agricultural sector and food issues to reach the SDGs by 2030. IAFN has been a consistent champion for a stand-alone goal on sustainable agriculture and food security.
However, “solutions cannot address just one goal, but must look to make a difference to several at once,” noted Michener. “The purpose of Agriculture and Food Day was to examine how focusing on agricultural and food policy could achieve not only Goal 2 but make substantive contributions to the achievement of the other 16 goals. Investments made in agriculture — the dominant occupation for the world’s poorest people — can accomplish much beyond Goal 2, including improvements in health, incomes, trade, infrastructure, and the environment,” he said.
USCIB policy experts and members also joined the SDG Business Forum on July 18, the first business-organized meeting held in the UN’s General Assembly Hall. Speakers from the UN, governments, NGOs and business discussed private sector investment, information sharing and public-private partnership to take forward the 17 SDGs. The Forum was organized by the Global Business Coalition for 2030, a coalition of major business organizations and the UN Global Compact, facilitated by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
Speaking to the HLPF, USCIB Vice President for Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment Norine Kennedy stated, “Innovation, infrastructure, economic growth and empowerment and good governance are the four inter-linked cornerstones for all 17 SDGs for business. Therefore it is crucial to consult with private sector groups at the national and regional level to develop enabling frameworks for business actions to advance the SDGs,” she said. Over 40 countries submitted national reports this year on their progress towards the SDGs.
Many of the speakers echoed the sentiment that neither the SDG’s nor the wider 2030 Agenda can be achieved without active participants of non-state actors, including business and industry, to drive inclusive economic growth and prosperity.
In his remarks to the HLPF, ICC Secretary General John Danilovich noted, “There can be no doubt that the private sector means business when it comes to the SDG’s. Since their inception, I’ve said the SDG’s should be known as the BDG’s, the Business Development Goals, and that’s because their achievement represents a clear economic imperative. Business engagement on the UN SDG’s is not only a powerful way to enhance society’s trust but also a great business opportunity. Achieving the SDG’s opens up $12 trillion in market opportunity in sectors such as food, energy, health and cities.”
USCIB member KPMG’s Nick Chism, deputy head of Global Sales and Markets and global chair of Infrastructure, Government & Healthcare, discussed the importance of creating business-friendly environment and opportunities, indicating that enabling environments will lead to more private sector investment.
For this year’s HLPF, USCIB members, including Bechtel, Cargill, Citi, Hilton, Monsanto, Novozymes and Pirelli, added new examples of actions to advance the SDGs to USCIB’s Businessfor2030 web platform.
USCIB’s Vice President for ICT Policy Barbara Wanner also attended an event, Accelerating Women’s Economic Empowerment to Achieve the 2030 Agenda, which was organized by ICC and UN Women – the global champion for gender equality. For many women around the world, ICT’s can be leveraged for personal security, better access to education and jobs, financial inclusion and access to basic healthcare information. But benefits such as these rely on women having meaningful access to ICT which can be facilitated or prevented by several factors, including affordability, relevant content, skills and security. The event showcased the global efforts stakeholders have embarked on to bring women’s economic empowerment to the forefront of all the SDG targets.
“Through innovation, investment and development of products and services, the private sector plays an important role in advancing gender equality and improving the lives of women,” said Wanner.
ICC highlighted several private sector initiatives during the side-event that are catalyzing women’s economic empowerment in developed and developing countries and presented the role of ICT’s in advancing the SDG’s. For additional information on this event, please visit ICC’s website.