It is a fact that official development assistance alone will not be enough to raise the trillions of dollars needed to finance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Private investment, then, will be necessary for moving from the “billions-to-trillions” needed to realize the 2030 Development Agenda. Marshaling resources for the world’s development goals has become one of the most important issues of our time.
USCIB, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and several USCIB members participated in a strategic dialogue at the Concordia Summit in New York City on September 20 titled “The Private Sector’s Role in Achieving the SDGs.” USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, ICC Secretary General John Danilovich and USCIB Vice President Ariel Meyerstein participated in a wide-ranging dialogue about how business can engage with the UN sustainable development agenda. USCIB members who participated in the dialogue include Bechtel, Citi, Coca-Cola, MasterCard, Novozymes, Pfizer and others.
The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda provides a terrific opportunity for the private sector to demonstrate the central role it plays in society. While government has been successful in outlining a visionary mission for global development, businesses have the unique ability to bridge the capacity gap to reach the impact and scale necessary to meed the SDGs. Partnership between the public and private sectors, at both the global and at national levels, is vital in creating an effective strategy and successfully implementing it to achieve these goals.
This strategic dialogue brought together leaders from across sectors and industries in a high-level working group to examine businesses’ role in providing technical know-how and fostering the spirit of innovation to fulfill the goals outlined by the United Nations. USCIB has been at the forefront of this initiative. Last year USCIB launched Business for 2030, an online platform showcasing business engagement with the SDGs. To date, Business for 2030 gathered 167 initiatives from 45 companies that cover 81 of the 169 SDG targets.
“We have been often struck at how misunderstood is business’s role in achieving sustainable development and particularly by the knowledge gap of what business was actively doing to help achieve sustainable development all over the world,” Robinson said. “Our hope is that Business for 2030 can make a small contribution to closing these information gaps, aggregating more information about business-led activities and perspectives on achieving the SDGs and hopefully stimulate more businesses to get involved as well as enhance the level and quality of cooperation between business and the UN community.”
During the dialogue, Danilovich explained the the successful implementation of the SDGs will depend upon three priorities: ending the “plague of protectionism” with regard to trade and investment, ensuring that enough trade finance is available to all businesses and finalizing the implementation of the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement, along with other reforms in the multilateral trade agenda.
Since the launch of the SDGs, USCIB has advocated for a focus on good governance and the rule of law, inclusive economic growth, investment in infrastructure, policies 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.
“The truth of the matter is business needs the UN, and the UN needs business,” Robinson concluded. “Our challenge here today is to find new and creative ways to leverage each other’s experience and expertise, and make common cause in support of the SDGs.”