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6 August 2019

by Marla Mossman, UN Correspondent

Theme: Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality

The world’s people are demanding “transformative change that is fair and sustainable,
 ….” to “kickstart a decade of delivery and action for people and planet.”

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres call to action was the main point in his address to ministers attending the seventh sessions of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). Under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The event gathered some 2,000 representatives from UN member states, civil society, and the private sector at 33 UN-level meetings and over 150 side events. The eight-day Forum, saw ministers from 47 countries presented Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) on their SDG progress so far, bringing the total number of countries that have submitted in-depth reviews to 142 over the past four years, since the SDGs were launched in 2015.

During the two weeks from 9 July, to Monday, 15 July 2019, these High Level meetings were the main UN platform monitoring each States’ actions towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

At the opening session Guterres observed that the HLPF was “zeroing-in” on the urgent need for more SDG action “to support empowerment, equality and inclusion” to “ratchet up the ambition and highlight the imperative of inclusion”.


“The evidence is clear:  Development is not sustainable if it is not fair and inclusive – and rising inequality hinders long-term growth,” he said. Alongside the impacts of globalization and rapid technological change, “inequality raises economic anxiety, erodes public trust, and undermines social cohesion, human rights, peace and prosperity.

While “mounting evidence” illustrates the “transformative results of equality and inclusion”, he pointed out. “For all these reasons, the 2030 Agenda places the goals of inclusion, empowerment and equality, leaving no one behind at the heart of our efforts”.

Since the, four years after the adoption of the 17 SDG’s, “we are not yet on track and must step it up”, he said, citing extreme poverty, inequality, global unemployment, gender inequality and climate change, among others. And in all these areas “the poorest and most vulnerable people and countries will suffer the most”.

He stressed the importance that, “global climate action must be advanced in a manner that reduces inequality”, including by “shifting to a greener economy that could create 24 million jobs globally by 2030 while safeguarding the 1.2 billion jobs that depend on a stable and healthy environment”.

Thirdly “We must step up implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration”……is absolutely critical”.
Lastly The SDG “is inherently linked to human rights, diplomacy and prevention”, reinforcing the need for “a strengthened global commitment to end conflicts and displacement and tackle root causes”.

HLPF 2019 addressed the theme, 'Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality'. In-depth reviews of SDG 4 (quality education), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), in addition to SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals) which is reviewed each year.

SDG 17 Partnerships for the Goals was of special interest to me to attend the Wednesday 17 July, HLPF Side Event titled; Lead, Transform, Succeed: Chief Sustainability. The panel was  co-sponsored by WBCSD a global, CEO-led organization of over 200 leading businesses working together to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world. They represent a combined revenue of more than USD $8.5 trillion and with 19 million employees, their focus is on maximum positive impact for shareholders, the environment and societies.

The key focus was COLLABORATION between corporations, people and the environment.

Alex Heath, Executive Vice President & Group Head, Business + Social Purpose,
Edelman saw its Purpose in its ability to enact change by the pressure from the companies’ employees and the culture of purpose to address SDG’s

Another Multinational Corporate change maker saw its goals run up against culture:
Christian Frutiger, Global Head of Public Affairs, Nestle SA see’s a shared value initiative embedded into corporate culture. “Somewhere between marketer and Corporation, it’s about people and the money. Two mutually reinforcing may help to solve a problem and doing good and being successful”

All recognized that the starting point is “DOING NO HARM.  Having no negative impact on SDG. Creating Healthy Products, creating a Global Youth Initiative to promote next generation farmers. Urgent Focus is on managing water responsibly.

The extent of corporate work and their best practices to ensure the success of the SDG’s combined with Public Relations programs to inform and inspire inter-generational collaboration with 84% young people seeing their role to make world a better place.
The WBCSD team's HLPF reports the key takeaways that are most relevant to business, built around the following themes and insights:
•    SDG progress: The need for increased ambition and accelerated action
•    The inclusion imperative
•    Continued and maturing engagement by business
•    New collaborations to realize the SDGs
•    The need to make the SDGs actionable

For all these reasons, it’s Imperative that Corporations sees their role as critical to integrating Brand with Purpose.




February/March 2020








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