4 reasons business should get involved in the global development goals
By Kathy Calvin, President and CEO, the United Nations Foundation
Something major recently happened at the United Nations that matters to all of us: Countries around the world agreed on the document to be adopted in September on the global development goals and noted the need for partnership on the first page of text, calling for “the participation of all countries, all stakeholders, and all people.”
“Partnership” appears alongside “people,” “planet,” “prosperity” and “peace” in the document — a clear statement that the UN and its members recognize that partnership can’t be an afterthought of our development agenda; it has to be a core part of it.
It’s simple: To translate the next set of global goals from words into a world where everyone has opportunity and no one is left behind will require a range of sectors and communities to get involved. The private sector especially has an important role to play. It has unique resources, ideas, expertise, technology and human talent to contribute.
Here are four reasons why businesses everywhere — from small start-ups to large multi-nationals – should join the effort to achieve our global development goals.
- The global goals matter to business.
The new global goals for 2016-2030, known as the Sustainable Development Goals, set an ambitious agenda to end extreme poverty, promote opportunity for all, and protect the planet — achievements that will improve global stability and expand prosperity. As smart business leaders recognize, this is good for the world and good for business. A survey by the UN Global Compact found that 93 percent of CEOs believe sustainability is important to their future business success.
The process to create the global goals included consultation with the private sector, and the next development agenda includes issues that matter to businesses, from expanding access to energy to promoting effective institutions. Making sure people have access to jobs, health care, adequate nutrition and thriving environments is not just a moral imperative — it’s an economic opportunity.
- We need private sector engagement to help make progress.
Government aid is important, but it’s not enough by itself. The private sector is an engine for economic growth, job creation, and innovation, which will be essential to empowering people to move from poverty to prosperity. To succeed, we need to unlock private sector investments and harness the sector’s know-how, technologies and human capital.
- This is not your grandfather’s development sector.
The new global goals are made for the 21st century, based on a 21st century model of how to do development. They are concrete, measurable, and driven by data — aspects the business community understands.
Additionally, the doors to partnership with the development community are open like never before. A Devex Impact survey of development professionals found that 91 percent of respondents view business as a positive force in development. The development sector is ready to hold ourselves accountable, partner with the private sector, and deliver results.
The UN is also embracing private sector engagement in our shared global agenda as it makes sure it is fit for purpose in this new era.
- It’s the right thing to do.
Business is a member of the international community and has an obligation, like all of us, to be a responsible actor. Each of us needs to play a role in creating a world where everyone has opportunity, no one is left behind, and the planet can flourish.
So how can you get involved in achieving our global goals?
Speak out: Raise your voice about why the global goals matter, and why the private sector needs to participate.
Build a business case: Help build the case for why the global goals are important to your business and the broader business community.
Engage your networks: Spread the word about the global goals among your employees and networks.
Internalize the global goals: Learn about the global goals and integrate them into your plans, products, and services.
Partner: Get involved by working with other organizations – from governments to civil society groups to other companies – that are also engaged in global problem-solving.
Many businesses are already taking action. For example, Dell has launched an EntrepreneursUNite petition to promote entrepreneurship in support of the goal on economic growth and employment. Philips is leveraging its business in integrated ways to advance progress on goals related to health, energy, and sustainable consumption and production. And companies such as Unilever and Novozymes have elevated and embedded sustainability as key parts of their business strategies.
Now we need to keep the movement growing.
While the global goals are ambitious, they are also achievable if we come together and act. The bottom line is building a stronger, healthier, more prosperous world will require and reward the participation of every sector.