Highlights Vol 24, No. 09 - September 2020

International cooperation works – even from home

For the past 75 years, royals, presidents, prime ministers and other world leaders have been coming together at the UN General Assembly every year to discuss and attempt to peacefully resolve the planet’s gravest challenges. This year, for the first time since the end of the Second World War, they will stay at home. But the conversation and cooperation carry on.

With the COVID-19 pandemic raging on in many parts of the world, including in the UN’s host nation, the United States, the General Debate of the General Assembly this month will, for the first time in history, move to the virtual reality.

Although virtual meetings are a far cry from real-life, human interaction, international cooperation is more important than ever, as the world grapples with a global pandemic, a collapsing economy, catastrophic climate change and a human crisis that threatens to push millions into poverty.

United Nations turns 75

On 21 September the world will be reminded of the value of multilateralism, as the United Nations celebrates its historic 75th anniversary, reflecting on all that humanity has achieved together, and all that is still left to do. “We, the peoples” will also recommit to the vision of the UN Charter, which is more relevant today than ever before.

SDG Action continues

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out years of progress, the world remains resolute to deliver the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Every year between now and 2030, world leaders at the General Assembly will be joining the “SDG moment,” an annual check-in to instil a renewed sense of urgency, ambition and accountability into our collective efforts.

But States alone will not be able to achieve the ambitious 2030 Agenda. To support them, UN DESA will invite private sector leaders for the annual SDG Business Forum, to be held virtually on 23 September, in cooperation with the UN Global Compact and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). The Forum will spark a meaningful dialogue on the role of the private sector in addressing the current economic landscape and to co-create lasting solutions for a more sustainable future.

A range of other high-level events, including the Biodiversity Summit, and a meeting to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons will punctuate the busy September week for the General Assembly.

Making the case for sustainable business solutions

This year is like no other, for individuals and businesses alike. The world is facing new and unforeseen challenges at a time when the international community is five years into efforts to achieve the global goals and at the start of the Decade of Action. As companies struggle in a COVID-19 stricken world, some suggest that the gloomy economic forecast may make them less inclined to adopt sustainable business practices. The upcoming SDG Business Forum hopes to prove otherwise.

Contrary to some of the fears, the global community has seen a new form of business leadership take shape during the crisis – a generation of executives and rising professionals who understand that there are no successful businesses in a failing world.

The private sector – in partnership with governments and civil society leaders – is therefore leveraging the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to respond to the immediate threats in their communities. They are preparing for long term sustainability, by remedying three critical fragilities: climate change and biodiversity loss; social inequality; and economic exclusion.

As the largest UN gathering of business leaders, the SDG Business Forum – co-hosted by UN DESA, the UN Global Compact and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) – highlights how companies are using their influence to create positive change locally and globally.

The 2020 edition of the Forum, held virtually on 23 September on the margins of the 75th UN General Assembly (UNGA), will continue to serve as a platform for dialogue on the role of the private sector in addressing the current economic landscape and to co-create sustainable solutions.

The Forum will be hosted on the third day of the UNGA special event ‘Uniting Business Live’. Registration is complimentary to UN Global Compact participants, signatory companies and non-business stakeholders, ICC participant companies and non-business stakeholders, as well as UN System employees, representatives from Major Groups and other stakeholders. To register, visit this site.

To spur further action on the goals, this year’s event aims to generate a Compendium of SDG Acceleration Actions for the Decade of Action and Delivery from its participants. Participants are also encouraged to register their SDG Acceleration Action initiatives here.

For more information: SDG Business Forum

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