More than 60 experts from the world of employers’ organisations, government, international institutions, academia and private companies came together at the Confederation of Spanish Employers’ Organisations' (CEOE) Foundation headquarters in Madrid on 1-2 October for the Global Business Forum on the SDGs.
The aim was to deepen understanding of the SDGs, and to explore the challenges, opportunities and roles arising for representative business organisations, private enterprises and global institutions and governments, from the new development agenda..
The IOE’s full report, which may be accessed via the link in the Resources box, sets out the main lines of the contributions of more than 35 experts from around the globe, as well as the questions and comments from the floor. Links to all the Ppt presentations are also contained in the report.
Here are some of the key takeaways:
- The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development marks a new and holistic approach to global development, involving shared responsibilities across the range of stakeholders – from individuals, to multilateral organisations, to NGOs, companies and employers’ organisations – who all have a mutually supporting role to play in the implementation of the SDGs.
- The private sector continues to affirm their strong commitment to playing their part in the achievement of the 17 SDGs and their 169 targets. Businesses have a long history of applying creativity, innovation and technology to problem-solving, but depend on institutional and regulatory frameworks that promote growth and expansion to be able to do so.
- In addition to the compelling moral argument for contributing to the 2030 Agenda as a new social contract with the potential for truly transformative and profound change, there is a clear business case for engaging. Research finds that companies that integrate the SDGs into their business operations reap tangible benefits in terms of competitiveness and sustainability rankings, enhanced access to financing and increased market share.
- Addressing the SDGs is a cross-functional matter for companies and top leadership buy-in is key to success.
- Companies can follow five steps to integrate the SDGs into their business objectives, as well as their ways of working:
- Understand the SDGs at board level so that they become integral to the company’s global strategies, priorities and goals.
- Define which goals are most relevant to the company’s operations.
- Set the goals and integrate them into company behaviour and operations.
- Assess the impact of the company’s actions.
- Report and communicate on actions undertaken.
- The success of the goals is reliant on the ability to measure impact – here, the UN has a role to play in providing clarity on how company metrics can align with the 153 SDG indicators that have been established.
- Integrated reporting is not an end in itself, but an important starting point for enterprises to sharpen their strategy and showcase outcomes for investors and shareholders and to consider the opportunities and risks. There is confusion for business around reporting, and there needs to be alignment of the various frameworks to make it easier and more appealing for companies to report.
- Governments need to enable the private sector to contribute to the goals by reallocating funds to the SDGs from other budget areas; providing clarity on the regulatory and legal framework in support of the SDGs; providing certainty in the business environment so that companies can plan their contributions to the goals with confidence; encourage innovation and long-term planning.
- Employers’ organisations cannot replace companies, but they can be vital partners; bring members together for workshops, trainings, and awards to recognise SDG-oriented performance; give guidance in setting priority goals; establish a sustainable development committee; advocate for government incentives for company engagement; support financing for green economy entrepreneurship; advocate for policies that integrate the goals into national action plans and allocate appropriate budgets; provide tools and resources; promote partnerships between companies in the same sector; engage with other stakeholders, including academia; set up or contribute to business-friendly, web-based information-sharing platforms such as USCIB’s Business for 2030.
- Harnessing the power of global networks, such as the IOE provides, is essential to raising awareness; exchanging knowledge, experiences and lessons learned; and building partnerships. To this end, employers’ organisations are called to join the IOE’s Sustainable Development Policy Working Group.
- Open, dynamic and flexible partnerships are key to achieving the goals.
- The IOE, its members, and their corporate affiliates must pool their collective experience, knowledge and expertise to prepare a substantial and data-based business contribution to the UN High-level Political Forum in July 2019 that will review progress on Goals 4, 8, 10, 13, 16 and 17.
If you have any questions or comments on the IOE’s work on Sustainable Development, or would like to be more involved, please contact Pierre Vincensini.