How can Business and the UN Work Together Towards the Sustainable Development Goals?


(Jane Nelson) #21

For me the business imperative for engaging in the SDGs is based both on the value to business and the values of business. It can help companies protect value or manage risks as well as create value or enhance opportunities for the company and its stakeholders. But beyond this, engagement in the SDGs can help companies articulate and demonstrate the deeper values of progressive business leaders and their employees, investors and customers.

The imperative for the development community to engage with business also rests of the dual principles of identifying and mitigating risks and negative impact, and identifying and mobilising resources to achieve positive impact. There is a strong imperative to work with companies and business associations to agree on and spread responsible business practices and standards in areas such as human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption. At the same time, there is the untapped potential to mobilise and leverage private financial investments, technological, product and business model innovations, and networks to help achieve the SDGs.


Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Ok - let's go into the first question:

Q1. What is the business and development case for increased UN-business engagement?


(Sergio Fernandez de Cordova) #22

Hi everyone, Sergio Fernandez de Cordova here from PVBLIC foundation and P3 Global Management.

Let me introduce a quick summary of our work with the PVBLIC Foundation and P3GM:

P3GM works structuring Public Private Partnerships (PPP) around smart infrastructure with local, state and national governments. Also, as acting Chairman of PVBLIC I lead the foundations engagement with the White House, United Nations and hosts the Media For Social Impact Summit.

Looking forward to and exciting and fruitful discussion!


(Ketan patel) #23




Ketan patel said:



(Paloma Duran) #24

On September 2015, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by the next 15 years. This provides an unprecedented opportunity to shift the world onto a path of inclusive, sustainable and resilient development. It would be hard to drive such development forward without business being on board. The degree and speed with which companies around the world develop more sustainable business models and partner with development actors will play a large role in the success of achieving the SDGs. In turn, all companies are impacted by the challenges that the SDGs address. For companies, successful implementation of the SDGs will strengthen the environment for doing business and building markets around the world.

Two critical business imperatives stand out to encourage UN- business engagement in the achievement of the SDGs:

  • Firstly, businesses that align and engage their strategy with national priorities will most likely be given their license to operate, by governments and citizens alike those that do not. Companies that contribute towards the achievement of the SDGs will also have a competitive advantage over those that don’t understand their contribution or use the knowledge to revise their strategies respectively. According to the Pwc SGD Engagement Survey of 2015, 90% of citizens believe it is important that business signs up to the SDGs and the 78% said they were more likely to buy the goods and services of companies that had signed up to the SDGs.
  • Secondly, Governments are already using the SDGs to inform development of policy and regulation. Those businesses that are aware of and aligned with the SDGs are more likely to have alignment with emerging policy, giving them more resilient business models.

The case is clear for companies to get involved by doing business responsibly and pursuing partnership opportunities with the United Nations to solve global challenges through innovation, investment and collaboration. While business is central to growth, productivity, innovation and job creation – all drivers for progress at scale – the UN counts with a unique position and universal mandate to support global issues. Through combining our distinct but complementary resources, technology, skills and networks, the United Nations can work with the private sector towards common objectives such as building inclusive markets, combating environmental sustainability, improving food security and promoting social inclusion.


(Zahid Torres-Rahman) #25

Great question Richard. Have you seen any shift since you published the report?

Richard Hardyment said:

I'd be interested in what the panel think about the current level of awareness amongst businesses on the SDGs. Do enough companies know about the opportunity? When we published our own research on this last year (From My World to Our World: What the SDGs mean for business), we found many companies knew about them - but weren't clear what action they could take. Does the panel see that changing? How can progress be made faster?


(Ketan patel) #26



(Bianca Shead) #27

At a general level, there isn't necessarily a need to start something new - the UN could be very effective in helping to strengthen existing initiatives: the UN's key strengths lie in its convening power and influence. There are a lot of platforms and organisations where this convening power and influence could be used to accelerate progress and help profile those organisations which are already doing good work.

What do others think?


(Jane Nelson) #28

Agree with the points made by Titilola and Jeff - there is great opportunity to make a stronger alignment between the local content programs that many mining, energy, agribusiness and other companies are developing and the women's economic empowerment agenda. It would be good to hear how companies are integrated gender into their local content programs.

Jeff Geipel said:

Sounds like local content to me! Agree 100% with your idea.

Titilola Adisa said:

UN should set up training on how women economic empowerment could be streamlined into strategic planning of businesses as well business associations. Business associations should also be trained on how to effectively lobby, advocate and form alliance for a good business environment in their locations.


(ANA ANTEQUERA PARDO) #29

Hi everyone, Ana Antequera from Ebro Foods, S.A. an Spanish food company global leader of the rice sector and the second pasta manufacturer in the world. Environmentally and socially sustainable growth is at yhe heart of the company's business strategy. One of our main objectives is to implement sustainable agricultural standards from an environmental and social viewpoint


(Jeff Geipel) #30

I agree on the convening aspect. There are so many criss-crossing initiatives going on, and the UN could be a major player to wrangle them to avoid duplication, identify gaps where new initiatives would help, and that sort of thing.

Bianca Shead said:

At a general level, there isn't necessarily a need to start something new - the UN could be very effective in helping to strengthen existing initiatives: the UN's key strengths lie in its convening power and influence. There are a lot of platforms and organisations where this convening power and influence could be used to accelerate progress and help profile those organisations which are already doing good work.

What do others think?


(Richard Hardyment) #31

I think we are seeing more companies interested in the global goals - but there is variation around the world. Many seem to have an awareness of them, and the number of new partnerships and collaborations seems to be increasing steadily. More examples from companies will no doubt help raise awareness further.

Zahid Torres-Rahman said:

Great question Richard. Have you seen any shift since you published the report?

Richard Hardyment said:

I'd be interested in what the panel think about the current level of awareness amongst businesses on the SDGs. Do enough companies know about the opportunity? When we published our own research on this last year (From My World to Our World: What the SDGs mean for business), we found many companies knew about them - but weren't clear what action they could take. Does the panel see that changing? How can progress be made faster?


(Jane Nelson) #32

Hi Richard - I think the awareness is beginning to gather momentum beyond the core group of companies that are already pioneers in global development. The Clinton Global Initiative hosted a meeting recently with about 30 companies, and I think there is growing opportunity to host discussions around specific industry sectors, which your research and the KPMG Industry Matrix approach could help to facilitate. Also, outreach to companies at the country-level.

Richard Hardyment said:

I'd be interested in what the panel think about the current level of awareness amongst businesses on the SDGs. Do enough companies know about the opportunity? When we published our own research on this last year (From My World to Our World: What the SDGs mean for business), we found many companies knew about them - but weren't clear what action they could take. Does the panel see that changing? How can progress be made faster?


(Jeff Geipel) #33

I think a lot of companies "get it" on the need to empower women through their local hiring and spending. However, practical implementation is difficult for companies who don't know much about economic and social development. There is often a lot of "guessing" as to what would make a good supplier to employ women, that is not based on a thourough examination of jobs created, skills development, etc.

I think this is where NGOs can help a great deal.

Jane Nelson said:

Agree with the points made by Titilola and Jeff - there is great opportunity to make a stronger alignment between the local content programs that many mining, energy, agribusiness and other companies are developing and the women's economic empowerment agenda. It would be good to hear how companies are integrated gender into their local content programs.

Jeff Geipel said:

Sounds like local content to me! Agree 100% with your idea.

Titilola Adisa said:

UN should set up training on how women economic empowerment could be streamlined into strategic planning of businesses as well business associations. Business associations should also be trained on how to effectively lobby, advocate and form alliance for a good business environment in their locations.


(Sergio Fernandez de Cordova) #34

Bianca,

I totally agree with you. The UN's capacity to bring different actors together can be leveraged with the strengths of the private sector in terms of technical innovation and knowledge of the local market communities.

This can make the implementation of UN-related and other public sector initiatives much more effective and have a greater impact.

Bianca Shead said:

At a general level, there isn't necessarily a need to start something new - the UN could be very effective in helping to strengthen existing initiatives: the UN's key strengths lie in its convening power and influence. There are a lot of platforms and organisations where this convening power and influence could be used to accelerate progress and help profile those organisations which are already doing good work.

What do others think?


(Bianca Shead) #35

I would agree that awareness is high but that action is still in the early stages. With 17 goals and 169 targets there is a lot to work out. In the early stages, we mapped our sustainable development Shared Imperatives with the Goals to see where the top level alignment was.

But we've subsequently been doing some really interesting work to understand - at a really granular level - how our core business can support and further the SDGs which we'll be publishing later this year.

Richard Hardyment said:

I'd be interested in what the panel think about the current level of awareness amongst businesses on the SDGs. Do enough companies know about the opportunity? When we published our own research on this last year (From My World to Our World: What the SDGs mean for business), we found many companies knew about them - but weren't clear what action they could take. Does the panel see that changing? How can progress be made faster?


(Mike Wisheart) #36

Hi All,

its my hypothesis that the value of the UN exercising its conveing power to broker partnerships and collaborations between others (biz, CSOs, govts) could far exceed the potential value generated by developing direct UN-Business engagements. What do you think?

Mike


(Zahid Torres-Rahman) #37

Thanks for all the great comments so far! Let's move on to our second question:

Q2. How can business most effectively engage in the SDGs, and how can the UN most effectively engage with business?


(Paloma Duran) #38

2016 is an important year for all actors to really engage in delivering the SDGs. Our report “Private Sector and the United Nations: Working together towards the Sustainable Development Goals” is the beginning of this discussion and our attempt to raise awareness about the businesses engaging with the SDGs. We believe awareness is raising rapidly and the feedback to this report has been overwhelmingly positive and we have seen marked increase in business in reaching out to engage with the SDGs and bringing them to the core of their operations.



Richard Hardyment said:

I'd be interested in what the panel think about the current level of awareness amongst businesses on the SDGs. Do enough companies know about the opportunity? When we published our own research on this last year (From My World to Our World: What the SDGs mean for business), we found many companies knew about them - but weren't clear what action they could take. Does the panel see that changing? How can progress be made faster?


(Jane Nelson) #39

Totally agree. The WEConnect initiative led by Elizabeth Vasquez is a great example of a business-oriented NGO that is trying to help companies and women-owned businesses to bridge this gap.

Jeff Geipel said:

I think a lot of companies "get it" on the need to empower women through their local hiring and spending. However, practical implementation is difficult for companies who don't know much about economic and social development. There is often a lot of "guessing" as to what would make a good supplier to employ women, that is not based on a thourough examination of jobs created, skills development, etc.

I think this is where NGOs can help a great deal.

Jane Nelson said:

Agree with the points made by Titilola and Jeff - there is great opportunity to make a stronger alignment between the local content programs that many mining, energy, agribusiness and other companies are developing and the women's economic empowerment agenda. It would be good to hear how companies are integrated gender into their local content programs.

Jeff Geipel said:

Sounds like local content to me! Agree 100% with your idea.

Titilola Adisa said:

UN should set up training on how women economic empowerment could be streamlined into strategic planning of businesses as well business associations. Business associations should also be trained on how to effectively lobby, advocate and form alliance for a good business environment in their locations.


(Jeff Geipel) #40

Has anyone seen the World Economic Forum's paper on mining's contribution to the SDGs? They worked with Columbia University and the UNDP on it, and I think it goes into great detail about how practically companies impact the SDGs. Of course it's quite long and needs to be translated into shorter business-friendly pieces, but it could be a model for all sectors: http://ccsi.columbia.edu/work/projects/mining-and-the-sustainable-development-goals/