Forging a Path for Business in the UN 2030 Development Agenda

L-R: Amina Mohammed (UN), Peter Robinson (USCIB), Alex Thier (USAID) and Shawn Miles (MasterCard).
L-R: Amina Mohammed (UN), Peter Robinson (USCIB), Alex Thier (USAID). Shawn Miles (MasterCard) and moderator Matthew Bishop (The Economist).

USCIB welcomed the agreement reached today by the United Nations General Assembly of the UN 2030 Development Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A product of extensive consultation with all stakeholders, the SDGs represent the UN’s most ambitious vision for sustainable development. These goals will reshape the practice of development globally as well as the private sector’s role in building a more prosperous, healthy world.

USCIB is deeply engaged in all aspects of the UN 2030 sustainable development agenda, advocating for good governance and the rule of law, inclusive economic growth, investment in infrastructure, enabling environments to foster innovation, strong public-private partnerships and above all, an open channel for business input into policy negotiations and implementation at the international and national levels. USCIB feeds into UN development agenda as the U.S. national committee of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which chairs the Global Business Alliance for Post-2015 and the Finance for Development Business Sector Steering Committee.

“The 2030 Development Agenda identifies the private sector as part of the solution, in more meaningful and concrete ways than ever before,” said USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson. “This is an agenda that we can support, and are indeed already supporting, because we in the business community have helped to build it.”

Business for 2030 Launch Event

On September 24, over 100 business leaders, government officials, UN delegates and representatives from business and civil society attended USCIB’s launch event for its Business for 2030 web portal, which showcases the private sector’s contributions to the SDGs.

Part informative resource, part catalog of business engagement, Business for 2030 features over 120 examples from 30 companies in over 100 countries of how businesses are helping to achieve 70 of the 169 SDG targets. Business for 2030 highlights concrete initiatives and public-private partnerships to inspire renewed trust in the private sector, and to catalyze sustained and active business engagement in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“We wanted to highlight concrete initiatives and partnerships that our members and partners are undertaking to support the 2030 Agenda,” said Robinson. “We believe that Business for 2030 can inspire renewed trust in the private sector, while catalyzing active, sustained business engagement in support of the SDGs.”

At the half-day event held at the Harvard Club, USCIB member companies and international business representatives discussed the examples featured on Business for 2030 with the broader development community, with a focus on the critical role of infrastructure and the need to transform public-private partnerships. USCIB organized the event in partnership with Bechtel, MasterCard and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA).

High-level speakers introduced the event and framed the discussions around the private-sector engagement. Robinson and Amina Mohammed, special adviser to the UN secretary general on post-2015 development planning, gave opening remarks. A panel discussion followed, moderated by Matthew Bishop of The Economist with Alex Thier, assistant administrator for policy, planning and learning at USAID; and Shawn Miles, executive vice president for global public policy at MasterCard.

“It is really exciting times,” said Mohammed, addressing business leaders in the room. “Grab this opportunity.”

Mohammed said partnerships with businesses of all sizes would be encouraged, and that the private sector will be provided with incentives to invest in achieving the SDGs.

View photos of the event (Flickr)

Meeting with WTO Director General and ICC’s SDG Business Forum

The importance of cross-border trade and investment as a key facilitator of achieving the SDGs was a core theme of discussion this week.

On Friday, September 25, USCIB Vice Chairman Dennis Nally hosted a meeting with Roberto Azevedo, director general of the World Trade Organization, with Peter Robinson and ICC leadership.

“The ultimate success of many of the  SDGs‎ – including for example those dealing with climate, infrastructure, and access to water and sanitation – will depend on transfer of  technology and know-how,” said Robinson. “The WTO will play a critical role as the facilitator and delivery mechanism for that process.”

Also on Friday, ICC hosted the day-long SDG Business Forum, providing solutions and resources for sustainable development by 2030. The event brought together CEOs, heads of state, UN delegates and civil society leaders to discuss what business is already doing in support of the SDGs, and how business can be an effective partner and contribute positively to the implementation of the new UN development framework.

Business for 2030 Portal & Talks about Infrastructure and Partnerships

During the Business for 2030 launch event on September 24, USCIB Vice President for Labor Affairs and Corporate Responsibility Ariel Meyerstein gave a well-received virtual tour of the Business for 2030 website.

Ariel Meyerstein (USCIB)
Ariel Meyerstein (USCIB)

“This site showcases business’ past and continuing contributions to sustainable development through the prism of the SDGs,” said Meyerstein. “The goal of the site is to stimulate a more productive partnership between the public and private sectors at the UN and at national levels and to demonstrate the need for a proportionate role for business in the negotiations, implementation and follow-up mechanisms of the 2030 development agenda.”

L-R: George Ingram (Brookings), Angela Baker (Qualcomm), Terri Bresenham (GE), Mike Eckhart (Citi)
L-R: George Ingram (Brookings), Angela Baker (Qualcomm), Terri Bresenham (GE) and Mike Eckhart (Citi)

The event’s first panel – “Infrastructure in the 2030 Development Agenda: Highlights from Business for 2030” – addressed the challenges of public-private sector cooperation around building infrastructure. Because infrastructure is so critical for development and so often implicates the core duties of the state, the stakes are high to achieve results in a cost-effective manner. This issue raises the bar for how national governments work with the private sector, including the critical need for more comprehensive strategic planning at the national level that involves all stakeholders.

“Fifteen years ago, this conference wouldn’t have happened. It was all about official development assistance,” said Ingram. “I’m at the end of a 180 degree change in my lifetime. Today, the private sector is being seen as the essential driver of inclusive development.”

L-R: Adeeb Mahmud (FSG), Karen Newman (UNDP), Gilbert Houngbo (ILO), Mario Ottiglio (IFPMA), Carlos Cornejo (MasterCard) and Claus Stieg Pederson (Novozymes)
L-R: Adeeb Mahmud (FSG), Karen Newman (UNDP), Gilbert Houngbo (ILO), Mario Ottiglio (IFPMA), Carlos Cornejo (MasterCard) and Claus Stieg Pedersen (Novozymes)

The second panel on “Transforming Partnerships in the 2030 Development Era” addressed the UN’s call for renewed global partnerships for sustainable development. The private sector and civil society are invited as key players in achieving the SDGs, creating opportunities for business to leverage its collective resources to help steer and amplify the UN’s development efforts.  For that to happen, however, governments need to create the right enabling environments for business.

“The Debate is Over”

Eric Solheim (OECD)
Eric Solheim (OECD)

The event concluded with remarks from Erik Solheim, chair of the development assistance committee at the OECD. He enthusiastically exclaimed that “the debate is over” in the development community over whether the private sector is a force for good.

“The evidence is so overwhelming that the private sector is part of the solution,” he said. “Without the private sector, development wouldn’t be possible.”

Now that the debate is won, he explained that the next step is to determine how governments and businesses can establish practical and effective partnerships to achieve the goals of the 2030 development agenda. For example, public-private partnerships have had enormous success in limiting childhood mortality around the world. Going forward, all stakeholders must come together to help set up practical partnerships.

See the event agenda.

 

Staff Contact:   Gabriella Rigg Herzog

VP, Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs
Tel: 212.703.5056

Gabriella Rigg Herzog leads USCIB policy and programs on corporate responsibility, international labor standards and corporate governance. She manages USCIB engagement with its affiliated organizations, U.S. government agencies, and United Nations agencies on international corporate responsibility principles, codes of conduct and multi-stakeholder initiatives, as well as international and transnational regulatory activities on labor and employment policies, sustainable development and corporate governance.
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