New York, NY , United States of America
At the SDG Business Forum on Day Three of the United Nations Global Compact’s Uniting Business LIVE, leaders and experts from around the world spoke about how funding and finance can be better aligned to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
From microloans to export finance, they said, global flow of money can promote sustainability and equality and help combat the pressing dangers of climate change.
For the 6th year in a row, today’s SDG Business Forum was co-convened by the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs, the International Chamber of Commerce and UN Global Compact.
One business leader noted, however, that despite the world’s health, environmental and economic crises, “We are not worried enough!” Others sounded a more optimistic note, saying they see a heightened awareness in the private sector of the role it can play in promoting sustainability.
Business leaders can use their influence, assume a sense of stewardship and push issues of sustainability into executive boardrooms, they said.
A strong business case can be made for sustainability and investing in skills and expertise to find creative solutions. Leaders noted that embedding the SDGs into the DNA of business strategies renders companies more competitive, more innovative and better placed to tap into new markets and opportunities.
Take a broad look around, advocates said, at the concrete steps that can be taken. Invest in young entrepreneurs and initiatives run by women or indigenous people. Invest in the Global South. Be a mentor. Be creative.
Of particular importance is “closing the finance gap,” participants said. Arguments were made for improving access to capital to enable and support small businesses in emerging markets and the developing world. small and medium-sized enterprises will play a major role in rebuilding the global economy.
Leaders said money needs to be channeled where it is needed, and export finance should look at building infrastructure like hospitals and roads in emerging economies. Export credit agencies could design financing that is more flexible and aligned with the SDGs.
With COP26 just weeks away, business leaders also discussed their participation in the Race to Zero, detailing their efforts to reach net-zero carbon emissions.
COVID-19 has dealt a major blow to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, with just over eight years to go. The approaching deadline underscores the indispensability of private sector engagement and action to build an equitable, safe, resilient world community.
The day’s insights came from prime ministers, global trade experts, climate innovators and chief executives from Fiji to Finland, Senegal to Saudi Arabia.
All today’s sessions can be viewed on the UNGC YouTube channel.