Co-hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA), and the UN Global Compact, and organized in collaboration with the Global Business Alliance (GBA) for 2030, the Forum brought together 1,500 leaders from business and government, together with the heads of UN agencies, key international organizations, and civil society groups to highlight how business is delivering on commitments to advance the 2030 Agenda.
The event was the largest business event to take place at the UN, but in case you couldn’t make it to New York or missed our real time coverage on social media, we’ve singled out these 6 notable quotes from the array of insight presented at the event.
- Opening the event, which took place in the UN General Assembly Hall, ICC Secretary General John Danilovich said that some had been skeptical when business committed to stand squarely behind the global goals when they were formally adopted two years ago. “Well today, we have a clear and visible response to that skepticism…one which reinforces the commitment of the business community to the SDGs,” he said. “There can be no doubt that the private sector means business when it comes to the SDGs.”
- While the event brought together representatives from all sectors, there was clear consensus among speakers: no one group can attain the SDGs alone. Bola Adesola, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria highlighted the power of partnerships to advance the 2030 Agenda and said: “Our coming together today is a reminder that no one business, global or local, no one country, developed or developing, can deliver the SDGs on their own. More than ever before, we need to collaborate”.
- Underscoring the pragmatic nature of business in a session on private sector investing in the SDGS, Danish Minister for Finance Kristian Jensen said: “The world needs dreamers and it needs doers, the business people of the world are doers…having the dreamers and doers working together will do the job.” Mr Jensen said that while a lot of Danish companies were front runners when it came to investment, many others needed help. Recognizing the business need for global governance and stable investment climates he said: “It is important to stress that a sustainable investment is only sustainable if it is economically sustainable.”
- Frans Lindelow, CEO of Swedish insurance company Skandia, said that while the company’s customers and owners expected a good return on their pension, they also expected the service provided with high morals and ethical standards. Mr Lindelow said Skandia was looking at how to incorporate the SDGs more into the investment process, noting that since the 1980’s business goals had transitioned beyond simply improving the bottom line for shareholders. “Responsible business has shifted focus from shareholder value to shared value,” he said.
- Nick Chism of KPMG had sound advice to offer businesses during his reflections at the Forum. He said: “Firstly, don’t focus all the attention on new initiatives at the expense of huge efficiency gains in existing areas of activity. Secondly, technology and innovation will continue to disrupt this strategic map so embrace them, don’t reject them. Thirdly, Don’t strive for perfection at the expense of progress. And fourthly, forums like the the SDG Business Forum, are incredibly valuable for stimulating collaboration, and the sharing of insights and lessons learned.”
- ICC joined a number of leading business organizations, private sector institutions and networks that support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across the world as signatories of a joint statement issued at the conclusion of the SDG Business Forum. The statement, which pledged to step up transformational partnerships and efforts to raise awareness and accelerate implementation of the goals, said: “The SDGs provide all businesses with a new lens through which to translate the world’s needs and ambitions into business solutions. These solutions will enable companies to better manage their risks, anticipate consumer demand, build positions in growth markets, secure access to needed resources, and strengthen their supply chains, while moving the world towards a sustainable and inclusive development path.”