At last night’s USCIB 2017 International Leadership Award Dinner, USCIB members and representatives of the international community turned out to honor Mastercard President and CEO Ajay Banga and celebrate the private sector’s contribution to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The dinner, which was held at United Nations headquarters in New York, drew over 220 high-level private sector individuals, UN dignitaries as well as press and featured keynote remarks by UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed.
“Business leaders are ever more eager to work with governments on the 2030 Development Agenda,” said Mohammed, praising the involvement and “sustained momentum” that has been achieved by the private sector to date. While urging the private sector to continue working towards the achievement of the goals by 2030, she also noted, “The UN itself needs to change since it has not yet fulfilled its full potential.”
USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, who gave welcoming remarks, highlighted 2017 milestones for the business community in aligning actions with the UN’s 2030 Development Agenda. “This has been a watershed year for American business in terms of focusing its attention on the importance of working effectively with international institutions – not just the UN, but also the G20, OECD, ILO and so many others,” said Robinson. “A key milestone came toward the end of last year, when the International Chamber of Commerce, one of three global business organizations for which USCIB serves as the American affiliate, won top-level Observer Status in the United Nations General Assembly.”
Terry McGraw, chairman of USCIB and chairman emeritus of McGraw Hill (now S&P Financial) echoed Robinson’s sentiments stating, “With elections and changing government leaders and priorities in the United States and literally around the world, it is more important than ever for business to stand up and continue to press forward an agenda that will strengthen important institutions and rules by which we work and trade.” McGraw also specifically acknowledged the role of the UN, noting, “To build a better world, we need institutions like the United Nations to function effectively and harmoniously, representing not just all of their member governments, but all interested stakeholders.”
However the award honoree Banga emphasized that more needs to be done. “More than 2 billion adults around the world don’t have access to formal financial services, and the majority of them are women,” he said. “They have no way to do the things we take for granted – pay a bill, save money for a rainy day, borrow on reasonable terms. They are trapped in a cycle of poverty and faced with systemic barriers to the resources that would allow them change their situations and contribute to the growth and resilience of their communities. The private sector has a major responsibility and role to play in driving financial inclusion and, ultimately, inclusive growth, by bringing investment, innovation and scale to the table.”
The leadership award, which was established in 1980, is presented to a leading CEO, international figure or institution, and recognizes outstanding contributions to global trade, finance and investment, and to improving the global competitive framework in which American business operates. In honoring Banga, USCIB also recognized Mastercard’s leading work in global financial inclusion. Upon accepting the award, Banga was joined by Eric Roston, chief sustainability editor with Bloomberg News, for a “fireside chat” exploring Banga’s thoughts on business leadership and sustainability.
The gala event also served to showcase the private sector’s efforts to align its activities with the SDGs, including via a new video, spotlighting a number of USCIB member companies, for the Business for 2030 web platform launched by USCIB two years ago. Please visit www.Businessfor2030.org to learn more about what companies are doing to achieve the SDGs.
Banga’s other achievements include leadership roles as member of the U.S. President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations and as a founding trustee of the U.S. – India Strategic Partnership Forum. He also served as a member of President Barack Obama’s Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity. Prior to Mastercard, Banga was chief executive of Citigroup’s Asia Pacific. He began his career at Nestle in India, where he also spent two years with PepsiCo.