Highlights from Uniting Business LIVE — SDG Business Forum
This year’s UN Global Compact Uniting Business LIVE event discussed advancing actionable, market-based solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges, from the COVID crisis to rising economic and gender inequality to the existential threat of climate change
UNITED NATIONS, New York, September 22, 2021 — Seven Heads of State and Government were joined by 34 CEOs, the UN Secretary-General and the heads of 21 UN agencies and civil society organizations at this year’s Uniting Business LIVE. More than 7,000 people registered to attend the three-day online event which took place during the high-level opening week of the 76th UN General Assembly. Together they committed to drive corporate ambition on climate action and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as business looks to build back better from COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am pleased that the new UN Global Compact strategy puts the goal of a green recovery front and centre. It is about jump starting business ambition and action on sustainable development and credible climate action. You are helping lead the way. Sustainability is not just a moral imperative, it is good business. Decarbonisation is the greatest opportunity of our time,” said the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his opening remarks.
Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact announced a new Africa Strategy 2021-2023 which aims to galvanize large and small companies across Africa to uphold the Global Compact principles-based approach to business to operate in ways that, at a minimum, meet fundamental responsibilities in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. By 2023, the UN Global Compact aims to have reached one-third of African businesses with more than $25 million in turnover and increased its SME membership by 50 percent.
Sanda Ojiambo also announced the UN Global Compact plans to enhance its Communication on Progress framework to better support participating businesses on their sustainability journeys and help them fully integrate the Ten Principles. The new reporting framework, due to be released next year, will establish a global repository of relevant, comparable corporate sustainability data, which will be open and accessible to all and represents a valuable asset to boost corporate transparency and inform the work of the UN system, Governments, investors and civil society on the road to achieving the 2030 Agenda.
Dozens of Chief Financial Officers who make up the UN Global Compact CFO Taskforce also committed to invest more than $500 billion over the next five years towards the achievement of the SDGs. The CFO Taskforce also committed to link almost 50% of all corporate financing to sustainability performance, with plans to issue new sustainable finance instruments, including sustainability-linked bonds.
The Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, joined Sanda Ojiambo, other UN leaders, senior business executives, trade union heads and government leaders to launch the Ocean Stewardship Coalition, a global and cross-sector initiative which aims to address the twin crises of biodiversity and climate change by empowering the private sector to help deliver on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals and a net-zero, resilient and equitable ocean economy. The Global Compact also called for key actions ahead of COP 26 based on the findings of its new report, Blueprint for a Climate-Smart Ocean to Meet 1.5° C.
The UN Global Compact and Accenture also released a Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Spotlight which revealed SMEs are setting some of the most ambitious gender equality targets. Also launched was a new UN LGBTIQ+ Standards Gap Analysis Tool to help companies measure and improve their progress in ensuring inclusion in the workplace and beyond.
H.E. Mette Frederikesen, Prime Minister of Denmark; H.E. Commodore Josaia V. Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji; H.E. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor; H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya; H.E. Erna Solberg, H.E. Yemi Osinbajo, Vice-President of Nigeria; Prime Minister of Norway; H.E. Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain and H.E.Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden gave remarks during United Business LIVE. Kenyan afro-pop band Sauti Sol and Ghanaian reggae star Rocky Dawuni performed at the event.
All sessions from Uniting Business LIVE can be viewed on our YouTube channel.