UN Secretary General Private Sector Critical for Sustainable Development

green buildingsOn December 4, the United Nations secretary general submitted an advance version of the synthesis report to the UN general assembly outlining his views on the UN’s Post-2015 Development Agenda outcomes.

Titled “The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet,” the report will inform member states’ negotiations of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be agreed upon in September 2015. The UN SDGs, which lie at the core of the UN’s ambitious Post-2015 Development Agenda, aim to address sustainable development through international commitments by governments and other sectors, finance and partnerships.

The secretary general envisions a strong role for business in his report, noting that “[a]n enabled properly regulated, responsible and profitable private sector is critical for employment, living wages, growth, and revenues for public programs.” The report adds: “Transforming business models for creating shared value is vital for growing inclusive and sustainable economies.”

An Open Working Group process in 2014 consisting of inputs from a wide variety of stakeholders and member states led to 17 draft SDGs. In his report, the secretary general has sought to inspire action and make these draft SDGs more easily absorbed by member states and other stakeholders by proposing a six pillar framework around – People, Dignity, Prosperity, Planet, Justice and Partnership. Promoting “decent work” is embedded as a core element in promoting prosperity “to grow a strong, inclusive and transformative economy.”

The private sector’s contribution is acknowledged in several paragraphs: “We know that forward-looking companies are taking the lead by transforming their business models for sustainable development, and that we have only scratched the surface of the potential for ethics-driven investment by the private sector.”

Key points of interest to business from the synthesis report:

  • The priorities identified by business for the sustainable development agenda are shared by many other stakeholders and are seen as essential elements to achieving the SDGs.
  • Acknowledgment that business is already innovating for sustainable development and stands ready to contribute more, given appropriate enabling environments.
  • A new framing of the goals and targets that will inspire public-private partnerships and mobilize essential actors.
  • Emphasis on the need to stimulate private money flows to pay for the Post-2015 agenda goals.

Staff contacts: Norine Kennedy and Ariel Meyerstein

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Staff Contact:   Norine Kennedy

VP, Strategic International Engagement, Energy and Environment
Tel: 212.703.5052

Norine Kennedy promotes U.S. business participation in international environmental policy and management initiatives, and works closely with industry, government and NGOs to promote sustainable development and green growth. She also spearheads USCIB’s strategic international engagement initiative, which seeks to advance meaningful business participation and regulatory diplomacy in inter-governmental organizations.
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