In summary: 2019 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

Some key takeaways from one of the most important international gatherings on sustainable development.

The 2019 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development took place at the UN in New York under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council from 9-18 July 2019. This year’s theme was "Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality".

Over 2000 participants gathered to review progress on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 4, 8, 10, 13, 16 and 17, and to identify challenges and gaps in their achievement.

Among the different stakeholders involved in reaching these goals, employers’ organisations and trade unions have a key role to play. They are the representative and legitimate voices of the world of work, bringing first-hand experiences of their constituents to the table.

With a focus on SDG 8 and its targets, IOE brought the voice of business to the many discussions. IOE was present in official HLPF meetings, but also organised and co-organised a series of major events aimed at sparking a multi-stakeholder debate to review progress, challenges and opportunities arising from SDG 8 implementation.

IOE President Erol Kiresepi, USCIB President and CEO Peter Robinson, IOE Secretary-General Roberto Suárez Santos, and IOE Deputy Secretary-General Matthias Thorns took part in several discussions during the HLPF, focusing on decent work and economic growth. Their messages revolved around three elements and their improvement, seen as essential for maximizing impact by the private sector: improved governance and rule of law, inclusive multilateralism and facilitation of public-private partnerships.

SDG 8: Progress on economic growth and decent work is sluggish

Deloitte, IOE and USCIB gathered corporate leaders, small business company executives, top UN officials as well as employer and worker representatives at the "SDG 8 Business Dialogue". They were welcomed by the heads of USCIB and IOE to map out the path to increase private sector involvement in SDG 8 targets.

A new IOE-Deloitte-USCIB Report "Reaching SDG8: Challenges, Opportunities and Risks", launched during the Business Dialogue, shows that the rate of global progress has, so far, not kept pace with the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda, and that without major inputs from the private sector, meeting SDG 8 will not happen.

This event and the theme of boosting SDG 8 progress were also a timely opportunity to launch and showcase a new initiative by the USCIB Foundation – "Business Partners for Sustainable Development". The goal of the initiative is to create more public-private partnerships in support of the 2030 Agenda, facilitate and streamline the process of making partnerships and provide an efficient framework for stakeholders to share, discuss and coordinate.

To further feed the debate, IOE Senior Adviser Pierre Vincensini presented some recent findings of a survey on the experiences, perspectives and actions taken in the context of the 2030 Agenda by employers’ organisations globally. The short survey was completed by IOE members as a follow-up initiative of the IOE-CEOE Global Business Forum on the SDGs in Madrid (October 2018). The presentation can be found in the Resources section.

As part of IOE’s work on sustainable development, this survey provides in-depth insights, outlooks and experiences from employers’ organisations. It contains useful information, data and key messages to be shared with governments and other stakeholders. The respondents, covering all regions of the globe, provided a mixed picture of different challenges along with various stages of progress and actions taken.

Main points to emerge from the survey are: the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda are critical to employers and the private sector is committed to achieving this agenda; some of the unspoken elements for achieving progress are the enabling environment for business, improved and efficient governance and capacity building for social partners.

List of some of the events IOE participated in during the HLPF:

Find all the tweets from major events on our official Twitter page: @ioevoice. Photos of the "SDG 8 Business Dialogue" can be found on our official Flickr account.