On 25-27 September world leaders will adopt an ambitious plan to eradicate poverty, fuel inclusive growth and protect the environment, at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit. Focusing on 17 global goals, the post-2015 development agenda is an important long-term framework that will define new ways of doing business while supporting prosperity and societal needs.
With a record participation of over 150 heads of state and government and a speech by the Pope, the SDG Summit is set to be a historic event. We have a significant presence at the Summit, and 11 of the 19 private sector speakers will be WBCSD members.
This is a very positive reinforcement of the fact that for the first time, the business community has actively helped to shape the agenda. Continuing this engagement will be critical to helping achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We know that long-term economic and social stability are absolute prerequisites for business success. Businesses cannot succeed in a society that fails. The SDGs provide a connecting framework between business strategy and global priorities, and address a wide spectrum of sustainability topics – such as climate change, environmental degradation, health, education and poverty eradication. As such, they will form an all-encompassing global agenda for the development of our societies until 2030. By redirecting global public and private investment flows towards these priorities, the SDGs can help define new markets for your business.
Across the world, the SDGs provide a new framework for your company to help solve global challenges through sustainable development. By engaging your company, you can capitalize on a series of benefits ranging from accessing new markets, stronger economic incentives for resource efficiency, increased stakeholder engagement and minimized exposure to growing legal and reputational risks.
But many businesses are asking how they can align their strategy and operations to the SDGs. We are proud to be part of the coalition that will launch the SDG Compass for business at the United Nations Private Sector Forum on 26 September. The SDG Compass is a living inventory of business indicators and tools mapped against the 17 SDGs . We’ve developed this unique tool in partnership with the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), to help you align your business strategy with the relevant SDGs and measure and manage your contribution.
In addition, an international group of business and public leaders have created the Global Commission on Business and Sustainable Development. It will begin its work during a private session on 24 September. The Commission will play a strategic role in clarifying the business case for sustainable development, in facilitating the integration of sustainable development principles into core business strategy and in creating a collaborative environment for business to take the lead in implementing the SDGs. This vital role is similar to that of the Commission on the Economy and Climate, which, through its New Climate Economy Report, has been critical in defining the business case for climate action.
At the WBCSD, we fully embrace the SDGs as an overarching framework for doing business. All our work streams relate to one or more of the SDGs. For example, our innovative Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative (LCTPi), which brings together over 187 companies and partners and will present business solutions at COP21, aims to address SDG 13 to combat climate change. Our Cities work seeks to build inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities as outlined in Goal 11. Our business solutions on land use support Goal 15 for the sustainable use and management of land and ecosystems.
In addition to the big apple’s inspiring global agenda, there are a number of other key events that should also be on your radar. A quick overview is found below, and I strongly encourage you to attend and add your voice.
The momentum is clear and profound: sustainable development is what will define healthy business. It is the only possible option for long-term profitability and success. Let’s work together to make 2015 the start of this new era.
President & CEO, WBCSD