Half the 169 targets that make up the Sustainable Development Goals will only be achieved if business actively engages, asserted Unilever’s CEO Paul Polman, during a meeting of the UN Global Compact held during the World Economic Forum on 20 January, 2016.
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova joined UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, UN principals, business leaders and heads of foundations at the meeting that called for strengthened public-private partnerships to translate the Global Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement into action.
Mr Ban urged business leaders to be actively engaged in achieving the Global Goals and to adopt working models that are more inclusive, to unlock economic opportunities for women and respect human rights and dignity.
“I ask all the CEOs here today to help us. You recognize that responsible businesses have enormous power to create decent jobs, open access to education and basic services, unlock energy solutions and end discrimination,” he said.
He highlighted the need to engage with more companies to reach the SDGs, ensuring that each one of them is committed to universal values and principles.
The SDGs carry real opportunities for growth and innovation, but the case has to be made more forcefully to spur a broad business movement committed to creating a better world, said Lise Klingo, UN Global Compact Executive Director.
Underlining the necessity for the UN to partner with companies that abide to the social responsibility standards of the Global Compact, she said that greater trust has to be built between the private sector, governments and the UN to accelerate progress.
Describing the UN as the “only moral framework we have,” Unilever’s Paul Polman called for breaking down silos, stronger advocacy, better coordination and accountability to multiply the impact of partnerships.
Advocating for business engagement in the SDGs, he said the global economy could lift by trillions through creating economic opportunities for women and investing in sustainable energy.
Dr David Nabarro, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General on Agenda 2030, called for collective action to make partnering more successful.
The UN Global compact aims to take the lead on turning the SDGs and the Paris Agreement on climate change into drivers for more responsible and sustainable business. Launched in 2000, the UN Global Compact is a call to companies everywhere to align their operations and strategies with 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. It includes more than 8,500 companies, based in over 160 countries.