World leaders will gather for the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA-74) in New York over the next two weeks to deliberate on the need to step up action on the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Climate Change. Many of these leaders from UN agencies, business and civil society, agree that not enough progress or scale has been achieved towards attaining SDG targets. Despite the private sector’s contribution on economic, environmental and social fronts towards delivering the SDGs, constraints to meaningful business engagement remain in some UN forums, hindering productive partnerships that could advance shared value and achieve common goals.
To highlight the importance of meaningful engagement by business in the UN system, USCIB, Deloitte and the International Organization of Employers (IOE) organized an ‘All In’ Conference on the importance of inclusive multilateralism and the role of business in achieving the SDGs. The conference was held at the Millennium Hilton UN Plaza Hotel on September 11 and brought together over 70 representatives from UN Missions and agencies, U.S. government, civil society, NGO’s and the private sector to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation, share challenges and opportunities, and chart a course for a practical “2020 Action Plan for Inclusive Multilateralism and Business.”
Throughout the day-long discussions, speakers and participants agreed that trust between governments, business and civil society has been strained yet remains a crucial foundation and success factor when building long-term, sustainable partnerships to address global challenges such as reskilling of workers, improving nutrition and eradicating poverty.
“If we were to achieve our aspirations, it would require all hands-on-deck, collective action and inclusive partnerships that mobilize resources and expertise,” said USCIB Executive Vice President, Strategy and Business Development Abby Shapiro. “Business can bring solutions, ability to scale and make much-needed investments in infrastructure. And we know that business can do well. We believe the SDGs present a unique prism to see what shared societal value means, especially in terms of social and environmental progress.”
Melissa Kopolow-McCall of AB InBev, a USCIB member, added a company perspective, “In some ways, our company is dependent on the SDGs to sustain its business model,” she said. “So partnerships are key – but it is not clear that all agree that partnerships are welcome or even a good thing. While some may believe that profit is incompatible with public good, we do not share that view.”
Participants also engaged in dialogue with Fabrizio Horchschild, special adviser to the UN Secretary General on preparations for the seventy-fifth United Nations anniversary, Austin Smith, acting U.S. representative to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and Robert Skinner, executive director of the UN Office for Partnerships.
USCIB Vice President for Environment, Energy and Strategic International Engagement Norine Kennedy presented USCIB’s two-year ‘All In’ initiative to focus on strengthening inclusive multilateralism through six elements comprising its Vision:
- Public-private partnerships for shared value
- Leverage public and private science & technology know-how
- Scale SDG solutions through supply and value chains
- Measure and monitor impact of SDG Action by Business
- Inclusive economic empowerment
- Investing in SDG infrastructure in all its forms
USCIB has convened meetings focusing on specific elements of the ‘All In Vision’ in Geneva in May, Bangkok in June and NYC in July and will consider how to continue the global conversation about institutional infrastructure and multi-stakeholder partnerships toward practical solutions that mobilize business, governments and the UN system.