The theme of the 2017 High-level Political Forum on sustainable development will be “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”, which is also a central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In the lead-up to the 2017 HLPF, weekly blogs by representatives of Member States, UN system, and major groups and other stakeholders will be featured in this series to present various perspectives on this theme. The role of SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 14, and 17 will also be highlighted, as these goals will be in focus at the 2017 HLPF discussions.
The SDGs: far-sighted business leaders’ roadmap for success
Irge Olga Aujouannet, Director, Global Policy Affairs WBCSD
The world has an ambitious agenda: delivering prosperity and eradicating poverty by 2030 while leaving no one behind. An integrated and actionable framework embodied in 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) designed to put the world on a development track that is beneficial for people and the planet.
The world, however, also has its challenges. Past months have put globalisation to the test. Across the world, many communities share a growing concern that the system isn’t working for them. The Better Business, Better World report, issued by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission earlier this year, points to flaws in our current economic model, which stand to significantly undermine long-term stability and growth. Devising an effective response to this challenge will be critical and the key lies with the SDGs.
As a source of innovation, finance, economic growth and employment, business has a critical role to play in achieving the SDGs. At the same time, the SDGs provide business with a new lens through which to translate global 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 putting the world on a sustainable and inclusive growth path. It’s a win-win - for business and the world. As the Better Business, Better World report puts it, the market opportunities represented by the SDGs could yield at least US$12 trillion in business value by 2030 while generating up to 380 million new jobs.
Across the world, forward-looking business leaders are stepping up to incorporate sustainability at the core of their business strategy and decision-making. They are working to understand how their business activities translate into economic, environmental and social impacts in the context of the SDGs. Yet, driving the transition at the pace and scale that is needed will require a new course for entire sectors and industries. This is beyond the reach of a group of pioneers and even business alone. Good governance, economic incentives, appropriate and robust legal and institutional frameworks as well as public-private partnerships are essential to reaching a tipping point.
At the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), we use our extensive network to bring companies together within and across sectors to address the most pressing sustainability challenges. We raise awareness and work with our member companies to set SDG-related targets, build roadmaps, explore solutions and advocate for finance and policy enablers that will enable a massive transformation towards the SDGs. A concrete example of this collaboration is our programme for Food Reform for Sustainability and Health (FReSH). The programme involves 45 of the world’s leading food companies working together to deliver food security and improved nutrition, as well as good health and well-being, while unlocking new business opportunities and creating employment.
The United Nations is in a unique position to encourage and facilitate dialogue and partnerships across societal sectors. This is why the High-level Political Forum is such a key moment for business to engage and exchange on the SDGs. We look forward to our strong engagement at this year’s Forum to foster further collaboration and strong leadership for better business and a better world.