As the UN gears up for its annual high-level political forum (HLPF) to review progress on the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in July, the international community is turning its attention to SDG 9—building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation. The extensive role of infrastructure in achieving all 17 SDGs prompted USCIB to organize a ‘Business for SDGs’ roundtable on Infrastructure last Friday, April 21, hosted by Covington LLP in Washington DC.
Norine Kennedy, USCIB’s vice president for strategic international engagement, energy and environment and the lead for USCIB’s work on the sustainable development goals opened the meeting and served as the event’s master of ceremonies. “USCIB’s SDG Working Group realized that no SDG can be delivered without the right ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ infrastructure, such as education, financial inclusion, food systems and healthcare, in place. The pipeline for bankable projects for both has to accelerate to broadly deploy and leverage business resources and know,” said Kennedy.
The event, held on the margins of the UN Financing for Development Infrastructure Forum, drew participants from government and business, including USCIB member companies AT&T, Bechtel, Citi, KPMG, MasterCard, and Monsanto as well as the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, NGO groups such as the Global Infrastructure Basel Foundation, and U.S. government representatives, notably Ambassador Lisa Kubiske from the U.S. Department of State who gave closing remarks.
The roundtable discussed obstacles to and best practices in public private partnerships for infrastructure projects, challenges in removing barriers or dealing with corruption, and the importance of scaling U.S. business investment, and the role of business in developing and utilizing SDG-relevant metrics. “There’s a huge financing gap, especially in terms of development and sustainable infrastructure projects around the world,” said Kubiske before citing U.S. government resources and initiatives that to de-risk and support U.S. companies competing for infrastructure projects, such as Power Africa.
“Investment in infrastructure is key to achieving a successful implementation of the SDGs,” emphasized Peter M. Robinson, USCIB’s CEO and president in discussing key takeaways from the roundtable. “We must actively search for ways to discourage governments from crowding out private investment; the implementation imperative requires scaling up business involvement and commercial opportunities. A first priority is to knock down obstacles to infrastructure investment, which can take the form of formal barriers to foreign investment in specific sectors or burdensome regulation affecting both foreign and domestic firms,” he said. Robinson’s remarks can be found here.
USCIB will host another roundtable on Innovation and SDGs in May in conjunction with the Financing for Development Forum. Please see USCIB’s Businessfor2030 website for more information on the roundtable and other USCIB actions and engagement on the SDGs.