Over 12,000 sustainability leaders, including Government Ministers, a Head of Government and 40 CEOs from around the world gathered virtually at the 5th SDG Business Forum on Wednesday to discuss how the private sector, can work with governments and civil society, to use the SDGs as a roadmap for long-term sustainability, and to address the three critical fragilities exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic – climate change and nature loss, economic exclusion and social inequality.
Co-hosted by the International Chamber of Commerce, the UN Global Compact and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the SDG Business Forum was held under the theme “Redefining Business Leadership in a COVID-19 World” and featured the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, as well as government ministers, including from the United Arab Emirates, France, Egypt and Estonia.
Speaking at the Forum, the head of UN DESA, Mr. Liu Zhenmin, pointed out the sobering social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Not only has the pandemic demonstrated how the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainable development are intrinsically linked, but it has also revealed the dire consequences that profound inequalities and injustices have on our societies.”
“It is at times like these that we need extraordinary leadership, from governments, from civil society, and from the purpose-driven business leaders who are not afraid to step up to drive the much-needed transitions,” he added.
In the Forum’s 12 breakout sessions, participants discussed progress on a range of topics, from sustainable energy to water and sanitation, sustainable transport, ocean, food systems, digital transformation, and small and medium enterprises.
The UN Development Programme, UN Global Compact and The International Chamber of Commerce used the Forum to announce their joint COVID-19 Private Sector Global Facility, which will work to mobilize a minimum of $5 billion in support of local business communities to enable a resilient recovery from the pandemic.
The facility will leverage public financing and in-kind contributions from multi-national businesses to deliver projects – from skills training to infrastructure development. DHL, Microsoft and PwC have joined the Facility as initial strategic partners, which remains open for other international institutions and companies.
Recordings of the plenaries and breakout sessions of the 2020 SDG Business Forum will be made available shortly on the UN Global Compact YouTube Channel.