As part of the United Nations (UN) High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York, the SDG Business Forum gathered governments and business leaders to take stock on progress made so far on the SDGs.
Business leaders and government representatives gathered at the UN Headquarters on 17 July to highlight partnerships that can help speed up the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Just over 1000 days after the Goals were agreed upon, the SDG Business Forum opened with a call on all participants to think critically about the progress made so far, considering the long way ahead.
Under this year’s theme ‘Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies’, 47 countries reported on progress so far. But according to a new report by the United Nations Development Solutions, no country is on track to deliver on the 2030 Agenda. This concerning trend underscores the importance of partnering with all economic actors in society to ensure that implementation of the 17 Goals will be realised in time to achieve our common objectives within the next 12 years.
Business is already partnering to speed up progress for the SDGs, but more can be done to establish action-oriented collaborations with the United Nations and governments around the world. Here are four takeaways on how we can improve partnerships in the year ahead:
1. We need to be transparent about both progress and failures
It was clear that both business, governments and the UN representatives at the Forum want to see more transparency in discussions around the SDGs.
Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, CEO, Solvay, said that “transparency is critical to raising benchmarks and keeping companies challenged,” and called on companies to continue their transformation for the SDGs. “Things are changing — probably not at the speed we would like — but we are moving in the right direction.”
“I’m a big believer in naming and faming companies that are doing good, and naming and shaming those who do not play a role,” said Erik Solheim, Executive Director, UN Environment.
Rebecca Self, CEO Sustainable Finance, HSBC, highlighted the need for more alignment in the way we report on sustainability targets and investments with ESG policies. “I think we need to be more innovative about our reporting processes.”
Tonye Cole of the Sahara Group, Nigeria, intervened from the audience to share an example of ways to develop Voluntary National Reviews (VNR), the mechanism by which governments report on SDG progress at the High-level Political Forum each year. By collaborating with local business organisations and the government, the group has now established a dialogue where Nigerian businesses feed information on activities that are later taken up in the country’s official government communiqué on SDGs.
To provide governments with an idea of what business is doing in all countries around the world for the SDGs in focus this year, ICC launched a report at the SDG Business Forum on ‘Business for Sustainable and Resilient Societies’, which highlights case studies from businesses taking action, and policy recommendations on how governments can help more companies implement the SDGs into their strategies. Here are a few highlights from the report: